The Tennessee-made Nissan Pathfinder three-row SUV has a smooth V-6 engine, a robust 6,000-pound towing capacity and seating for seven.
Still, it has had a hard time finding a passing gear to match or exceed the sales of segment leaders such as the Ford Explorer or the Toyota Highlander. The Pathfinder appeared to find its footing with a 2013 redesign that boosted annual sales to over 88,000, but sales have been flat to down since then.
A week in a Pathfinder SV 4WD tester, provided by the manufacturer, demonstrated that the model still has chops. The design, refreshed for 2017, features a flowing shoulder line, prominent skid plates and black mesh grille.
Our mid-trim SV model also showcases the handsome Rock Creek Edition appearance package — no relation to the Chattanooga-based outdoors store. Elements include dark 18-inch wheels, black roof rails and door handles, a collection of badges, special seat stitching, metallic interior trim, the aforementioned black grille and more.
› Model: 2019 Nissan Pathfinder SV AWD
› Exterior color: Gun Metal (gray)
› Interior color: Black and gray
› Engine: 3.5-liter, V-6
› Horsepower: 284
› Transmission: continuously variable
› Fuel economy: 26 mpg highway, 19 mpg city
› Local dealer: Nissan of Chattanooga East, Mountain View Nissan
› Price (as tested): $39,675
Taken together, the black-out effect of the Rock Creek Edition makes the soft-around-the-edges Pathfinder at least gender-neutral if not down-right masculine. Frankly, it's just what the designer ordered. Both my sons, 17 and 12, liked the look. You can actually imagine this SUV rolling down a rocky creek bed when it's not parked in front of Bed, Bath and Beyond.
The 2019 Pathfinder is in good supply at local Nissan stories. Nissan of Chattanooga East had seven in digital inventory late last week and Mountain View Nissan had 12.
WHAT IS IT?
The Pathfinder is a seven-passenger SUV that has more than three decades of evolution and is built on the same platform as the excellent Infiniti Q60. The current generation Pathfinder was introduced in 2013 and updated in 2017. It's one of the few six-cylinder SUVs that employs a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission, a Nissan specialty.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The price sheet supplied with our tester (with lists for $39,675) ranges from $31,230 for a front-wheel-drive S-trim Pathfinder to $44,260 for a Platinum 4WD model. All Pathfinders come with the sweet, 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine making 284 horsepower. In all, there are eight trim levels.
The Rock Creek Edition package is a bargain at $995, plus $980 more if you want the tech package, which includes navigation and heated seats. The engine is one of the best V-6s on the market and the 6,000-pound towing limit is a big plus — most comparable SUVs top out at 5,000 pounds.
We would hope for a power rear hatch on an SUV approaching $40K. Too, most brands ditch the cloth seats and add leather at this price point.
The Pathfinder offers brisk acceleration — again that sweet V-6 at work. Steering is a little loose, but overall the ride is confident and comfortable.
With the Pathfinder and the VW Atlas made within its borders, Tennessee is well-represented in the three-row SUV wars. To support the home teams, drive both and take your pick. We'd say it's a toss up.
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