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2017 Nissan Pathfinder Revealed With More Power, Torque, Tech

The reskinned family SUV gets upgrades all the way down to the bones

Back in 2012, Nissan came to a crossroads with its much-loved Pathfinder nameplate. Though the rough-and-tough SUV earned its credibility and popularity largely as a durable four-wheel-drive machine with off-road chops, times had changed. People were flocking to soft-roading family SUVs such as the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot. Nissan soon followed suit, swapping the Pathfinder's body-on-frame platform with a unibody structure adapted from the Altima sedan. With its newfound focus on people-moving, Nissan's gambit worked like a charm. Instantly, sales more than doubled from 42,621 for the 2012 model year to 88,632 for the 2013 model year.

Now that the people have clearly spoken with their wallets, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is here to keep that train rolling. As you'd expect, the refreshed Pathfinder gets modernized looks with plenty of new technology and convenience equipment. But Nissan also packed the 2017 Pathfinder with more power, torque, and greater towing capacity. It's still not the seasoned off-roader of yore, but when it comes to hauling a truck full of kids and a boat in tow, at least on paper, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is more ready than ever before to perform.

The heart of the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is its revised 3.5-liter V-6 engine with new direct-injection technology, also at work in the latest Armada SUV. Combined with a revised combustion chamber design, pistons, and intake manifold, the updated V-6 features 50 percent new parts. The result is a bump in power and torque to 284 hp and 259 lb-ft (formerly 260 hp and 240 lb-ft). The compression ratio is additionally now 11:1 versus 10.3:1 with the old engine. And despite the upgrades, Nissan does not expect fuel economy to suffer—ratings are predicted to remain at 20/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined.Towing capacity rises for the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder by 1,000 pounds to a total of 6,000 pounds. That comes in part because of the upgraded engine output, but also because of updates to Nissan's Xtronic (continuously variable) transmission similar to what's used in the Maxima sedan. Reinforcements to the body and trailer hitch area also make the new tow rating possible.

Adjustments to the suspension promise to make the new Pathfinder handle better, as well. Retuned shocks, 11 percent stiffer up front and 7 percent stiffer in the rear, combine with 25 percent stiffer rear rebound springs and new rebound springs for the front struts for a claimed improvement in body control and reduced roll. "Fine tuning of the spring rates and the addition of front strut rebound springs has allowed better control of typical body motions such as roll and pitch and bounce," said Nissan vice president of product planning Michael Bunce, in a statement. "The result is the Pathfinder remains flatter while cornering and road vibrations are well controlled, especially on rough roads and during off-road driving." Nissan also retuned the electric power steering system for 11 percent quicker steering.

On the looks front, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder ditches its dated appearance for something a little sleeker and more refined. Picking up some cues from the Maxima and Murano (such as the rear-fender kink), the Pathfinder strikes a more modern note. Both the front and rear fascias have been redesigned with new headlights and taillights and optional LEDs, but the big addition is Nissan's widespread V-motion grille design. 18-inch machine aluminum alloy wheels are standard, while fat 20-inchers come standard with the fully loaded Platinum model.

Although the exterior does look a little sweeter, the bigger improvements for the Pathfinder happen inside. There's a new display between the tach and speedometer in the instrument cluster, standard Bluetooth connectivity, dual USB ports, and a new 8-inch touchscreen monitor now dominates the center stack. Navigation is optional for the SV and SL trim levels, and standard on the Platinum model. Nissan Connect app services are also available, which is new for the Pathfinder lineup. Starting on the Platinum SV there's keyless entry, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, a new foot-activated motion liftgate, Nissan Around View 360-degree camera, and remote start. Jump to the SL for heated front and rear leather seating surfaces with lumbar support, blind-spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert. The fully loaded Platinum model gets satellite radio, LED exterior lighting, cooled front seats, a Bose 13-speaker sound system, adaptive cruise control, and forward emergency braking.

The 2017 Pathfinder's technology, handling, towing, and powertrain improvements will likely prove wise, especially as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Explorer are upping their game in these departments. Pricing for the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder won't be available for a little while, but we don't expect big changes. Expect the Pathfinder S to start right around $30,000, ranging up to the Platinum model in the low $40,000 space.