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Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF THE DAMN PAVEMENT


Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn PavementWhile certainly the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder isn’t nearly as rugged as the prior generation that simply doesn’t mean it can’t get dirty. I mean, for crying out loud, it has “PATH” and “FINDER” it is name. What part of that means you can only drive it to the grocery store? To help, “inspire” you to get it dirty, I took it off-roading with the family. Here’s how it went down.

Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn Pavement

Dirt aka non-paved road.

On a long family trip, we drove across the Midwest camping along the way. As we traveled, we swapped out various vehicles like a Land Cruiser and a Silverado before ending our trip with the Nissan Pathfinder. Now, I know what you are thinking. Ugh. You gave up a truck for a unibody SUV? Yes, yes we did. And gasp! We did it happily.

Sure, I love trucks (and you should too), but hitting the gas pump every few hundred miles with the 6.2L V8 isn’t my idea of a “fun” trip. Plus, it was equally fuel economy killing 4×4 variety of truck. Why not trade it off for a vehicle with better fuel economy and 4×4 capability? Wait, what?!?

Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn Pavement

Oh look at that!

Oh you didn’t know the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder has 4×4? Well then, let me tell you. Sure, this generation Pathfinder doesn’t have a solid axle under it and the ground clearance is more minivan than rock crawler, but it did retain a lot of off-road capability. For example, it has 4wd AND a nifty screen showing you the torque distribution between all 4 wheels. You know, all 4 wheels that are engaged when, you know, the weather gets terrible or you are on dirt. Oh and believe it or not (I’m guessing you won’t), it has an AUTO 4wd option, so you don’t even have to think putting into 4wd. Huzzah!

During our trip, we aimed to get it dirty by hitting a snowmobile trail in Northern Michigan as well as tackling a scenic drive in a remote corner of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

Heck, we even aired down the tires and used Nissan’s handy BEEP, BEEP I’M FULL OF AIR feature to fill up the tires.

Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn Pavement

Yes, those are sandals and golf shoes. You just never know what kind of gear you will need!

Plus, the hidden trunk space in the rear allowed us to carry all of our “holy crap that didn’t go right” gear, you know, in case a freak winter storm hit in July.

Carting around the cabin filled with kids and a rear full of luggage, the Pathfinder played the role of soccer-game SUV just fine. The 3.5L V6 has enough oomph to get us going without spinning the tires and the 20/27 MPG city/highway fuel economy meant we weren’t stopping every 3.5 hours for gas (potty breaks excluded).

Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn PavementSure, it isn’t precisely the sexiest SUV on the planet, but thanks to the kick-butt, take-no-names attitude of the female chief product planner, it is much more aggressive and it doesn’t belong in the bland 1980s crowd. Seriously, a woman lead the team on this and trust me, she wasn’t going to let some man tell her to tone it the hell down!! (yeah double exclamation marks on that.)

Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn PavementOk, fine, I didn’t attempt to tackle the Rubicon trail or go snow bashing in the Rockies with it, it does have some limits, but I didn’t get white knuckled leaving the oil road. I could have done more. The thing is filled with safety gear and technology like an exceptional around-view camera system and all the latest safety stuff to avoid hitting shopping carts when backing out of a spot at Piggly Wiggly.

Review: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder – Get OFF The Damn PavementFrankly, I’m shocked (not really) the Pathfinder doesn’t get more love from the general public. A three-row (that’s 7 people) SUV starting at $30,790 with 4WD capability should get more attention from buyers. Think about that the next time you bury your (cough) SUV wanna-be in a snow drift. You should have bought a Pathfinder. /end rant

Be sure to check out the podcast episode on the Nissan Pathfinder.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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