Test Drive: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Midnight Edition

Although Nissan may disagree with me, despite its name the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder has really morphed from an off-road adventure vehicle to an everyday urban jungle caravan as it boasts seven seats, ample cargo room, entertainment and luxury adornments.

I’ll admit I thought I was getting a black vehicle to test...

Although it still offers 4x4 and a lock mode, unfortunately that locking is 2WD on the wrong wheels (the front ones). Not that there is anything wrong with this shift, in fact, the Pathfinder takes on its new role and conquers it quite admirably!

The Pathfinder starts at $32,598 for the base front-wheel-drive S model V6. Adding all-wheel drive increases the price by $3,000 and the prices climb from there, to the SV, SL, Midnight and Platinum editions. The Midnight and Platinum are the same price at $48,598. The Midnight edition (I’ll admit I thought I was getting a black vehicle to test) adds black outside mirror covers, a black rear-tailgate spoiler and the exclusive black 20-inch wheels – which look outstanding on my white-bodied tester – as well as a rear panoramic moonroof, interior LED lighting and illuminated kick plates.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped inside, sat down and started up the 2017 Pathfinder was the steering wheel. Perhaps it was just that I came from a vehicle with a larger one, but it felt small in my hands, the circumference seems especially small for a seven seat, mid-to-large sized SUV. I suppose this makes driving the Pathfinder easier, or at least the perception of it as it makes the vehicle feel smaller and more nimble – more car-like.

After the initial steering wheel saga, I moved on to inspecting the rest of the interior and a well-appointed one it is. Heated and cooled front seats, tri-zone climate control, front and rear moonroof (pano in the rear), heated second-row seats, third-row seating with adjustable air vents, leather all throughout and a smattering of technology features like blind-spot detection, radar cruise control, collision alert, and more. The infotainment screen offers a variety of functions and applications such as navigation control, phone control and fuel-economy monitoring.

The dark wood trim that oddly feels matte-finished and rough on the centre console, yet smooth on the door panel, is not my favourite trim detail, but I could live with it. Around that wood trim are aluminum accents which is an odd combo overall. The Bose premium audio system sounds great and the added subwoofer under the rear cargo floor adds a good thump. Although well laid-out, I would like to see more storage in the centre console area – the directly competing Toyota Highlander offers a massive centre console storage bin, while the Pathfinder leaves enough for a cellphone and a few trinkets.

The seating arrangements for all seven occupants are pretty comfortable, the second row slides fore and aft to offer more legroom to the third row, which is surprisingly sufficient even for adults. Behind that third row offers 453 L of cargo space which is enough for some groceries or a gym bag, but flip down that third row and you are presented with a healthy 1,201 L, fold that flat and it nearly doubles to 2,260 L.

The Pathfinder is powered by Nissan’s award-winning 3.5-litre engine producing 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque in this application. It is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which to some can result in immediate dismissal of the vehicle from their shopping list, but Nissan has been using these transmissions in conjunction with their 3.5-litre V6 engine for quite some time and they have been proven to work, despite some initial woes. The programming in this application is spot on, it took me awhile to even realize it wasn’t a regular six-speed automatic as it still seems to have programmed shift points and no hanging revs typically present with CVT applications.

Out on the highway the Pathfinder is acceptably quiet with a little bit of road noise intrusion consistent with its price range and vehicle class. Visibility is decent with large windows along the sides and out the back C-pillar area, although with the third-row headrests up, rearward visibility is severely compromised leaving only a tiny spot in the middle of the rear-view mirror to monitor traffic.

Despite the available G-force meter application in the infotainment system (which by the way seems to max out at 0.5 lateral Gs) the driving dynamics of the Pathfinder are not sports-car-like – but that’s okay. The Pathfinder drives smooth and comfortably while still offering enough road feel to keep you alert. Despite its size and weight (2,103 kg) the Pathfinder feels light around town and easy to manoeuvre. When parking, the surround-view cameras really make parking this rather long car (5,542 mm) a breeze.

Over a week of driving I managed to travel nearly 400 km and was a little disappointed in the fuel economy. According to the onboard computer I averaged 12.5 L/100 km over the week, which is far worse than Natural Resources Canada ratings of 8.9 highway and 12.1 city as most of my driving was highway miles.

With a comfortable, quiet ride, seven-seat capacity and a strong V6 engine, it is hard to go wrong with a Pathfinder. The Midnight Edition adds that little extra bit of luxury and style that makes the Pathfinder even more appealing and unique.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder Midnight Edition
Engine Displacement: 3.5L
Engine Cylinders: V6
Peak Horsepower: 284 hp
Peak Torque: 259 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 12.1/8.9/10.7 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 453 L/2260 L seats folded
2017 Nissan Pathfinder Midnight Edition
Base Price $48,598
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,795
Price as Tested $50,493
Optional Equipment None
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 8.0
8 Styling
8 Powertrain
8 Quality
8 Comfort
9 Practicality
8 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
7 Fuel Economy
9 Features
7 Value