Despite a rugged history, the Nissan Pathfinder has found relative success in its fourth generation with a decidedly more mainstream approach. It’s less of the rugged SUV it once was, more of a stylish family vehicle. That formula doesn’t change much for this 2017 model year mid-cycle update, but Nissan has improved a number of key components that work to make its seven-passenger CUV a bit better for daily life.

That starts with a revised powertrain; the Pathfinder’s 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 now adds direct injection. The end result is 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque – increases of 24 hp and 19 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional, and with the Nissan-typical Xtronic continuously variable transmission, fuel economy ratings remain unchanged for the 2017 model at 20 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined (with front-wheel drive).

Slight as they may be, a few other mechanical bits have been upgraded. The front and rear shocks are now 11 and 7 percent stiffer, respectively; rebound springs are added to the front struts; rear rebound spring rates are increased by 25 percent. The electric power steering system is also revised, with an 11 percent quicker ratio. All that should work together to make the Pathfinder a bit better to drive. We’ll have a full report on that front later this month.

Visually, the 2017 Pathfinder gets updated front and rear fascias – the soft lines of the current model are made a bit sharper, and overall, the new look is a moderate improvement. Inside, not much has changed in terms of design or functionality, though the standard eight-inch touchscreen gets the latest NissanConnect infotainment software, with navigation available on higher end models (and standard on the range-topping Platinum).

Nissan keeps its excellent EZ Flex seating system intact, which allows the second row seats to tilt and slide forward for what is, arguably, the best setup in the business for third-row ingress and egress. Plus, there’s now a motion-activated liftgate – like many other crossovers – that allows owners to operate the rear hatch simply by kicking their foot under the bumper.

Pricing will be released closer to the CUV’s on-sale date later this year. As before, S, SV, SL, and Platinum models will be available, with all-wheel drive optional on each. This 2017 refresh isn’t a complete overhaul of the Pathfinder by any means, but with a few solid updates in noticeable areas, it should continue to help Nissan’s three-row CUV remain fiercely competitive in this incredibly popular segment.

Gallery: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

Hide press releaseShow press release

2017 Nissan Pathfinder ups adventure-ready credentials with aggressive new exterior styling, increased power and towing capability, advanced driver assistance features

- Major redesign includes bold new front end with signature boomerang-shaped headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights and available LED headlights

- New 3.5-liter V6 engine adds direct injection system, horsepower increases to 284, maximum towing capacity now a class-leading* 6,000 pounds (when properly equipped)

- Enhanced user friendliness features range from Motion-Activated liftgate to updated vehicle connected services

- New advanced driver assistance technology includes Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control and Around View® Monitor with Moving Object Detection

Pathfinder, one of Nissan's best known and most popular nameplates in its nearly 60-year history in the United States, is reborn for the 2017 model year with more adventure capability, a freshened exterior look and enhanced safety and technology – pure Pathfinder taken to a higher level of performance and style.

"The Nissan Pathfinder has an amazing heritage as one of the modern pioneers in the SUV segment, with more than 30 years in the marketplace, yet we are always looking forward – as the Pathfinder name implies," said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. "For 2017, Pathfinder receives much more than your typical facelift. It now offers more power, towing capability, improved driving dynamics and new available driver assistance features –more of what you need for safe, comfortable every day and weekend family adventures."

The seven-passenger 2017 Pathfinder is offered in 2-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive configurations and a choice of four well-equipped grade levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum.

A Powerful New Look

When the fourth-generation Pathfinder was introduced for the 2013 model year, its design represented a major step forward in refined styling and aerodynamic emphasis. For 2017, the refreshed exterior goes even farther, adding a stronger sense of adventure, character and presence and continued fine-tuning of aero efficiency.

The updated appearance incorporates the latest Nissan signature design elements introduced on the award-winning Maxima sport sedan and Murano crossover – including the new "V-Motion" grille and boomerang-shaped headlights with LED daytime running lights. New LED headlights are standard on the Pathfinder Platinum grade.

Other exterior enhancements include a new, more aggressive hood, front bumper and fog lights. The outside rearview mirrors now include standard integrated turn signals. In the rear, changes include new taillights and a stronger bumper design.

In addition, aerodynamic optimization efforts include a new grille design, which enhances cooling performance and negates the need for an active grille shutter, and a new front chin spoiler design that has been moved forward and directs air downward – without compromising the approach angle for off-road driving. These changes help optimize air flow around and below the exterior, with the coefficient of drag reduced to 0.326 (from the previous 0.34).

Another significant addition for 2017 is the available Motion-Activated liftgate with liftgate position memory. A simple wave of the foot under the center of the liftgate activates the power opening function. It is standard on SL and Platinum grades.

Other exterior details include recessed front windshield wipers, roof rails, chrome door handles and privacy glass. An available Dual Panorama Moonroof is standard on the Platinum grade. It includes a sliding opening front panel and fixed rear glass panel, which extends over the 2nd and 3rd rows.

Also added for 2017 are 18-inch (S, SV and SL grades) and 20-inch (Platinum) machined aluminum-alloy wheel designs.

Completing the exterior makeover are two new exterior colors – Sandstone and Caspian Blue. Other available colors are Midnight Jade, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Magnetic Black, Cayenne Red, Pearl White and Glacier White.

"More than just a more powerful appearance, the 2017 Pathfinder offers more functionality – from the convenience of the Motion-Activated liftgate to user-friendly interior upgrades," added Bunce.

A Roomy, Refined Interior

The enhancements to the Pathfinder interior for 2017 focus on convenience and connectivity. For example, the cupholders have been reshaped to accommodate mug handles and an illuminated front storage bin. There are now two USB ports inside the console versus the previous single port.

The biggest change, however, is the adoption of new-generation information technology. The standard Advanced Drive-AssistÔ Display (ADAD), located in the center of the instrument display between the tachometer and speedometer, features additional infotainment and driver assistance displays (versus the 2016 Pathfinder design). Voice recognition has been enhanced with a new HD microphone.

The standard 8.0-inch touch-screen monitor, mounted in the middle of the instrument panel, provides intuitive interaction and control of a variety of driver-selectable vehicle systems and settings – including the standard NissanConnectSM with Voice Recognition for audio, Bluetooth® and vehicle information. In addition, the available NissanConnect Navigation system** (offered as standard equipment on Pathfinder Platinum and optional on SV and SL grades) includes Voice Recognition for navigation, including one-shot voice destination entry and three years of included SiriusXM® Traffic®. The Pathfinder also includes standard SiriusXM® Travel Link** with three years of complimentary service, featuring sports, movie listings, stock prices, gas prices and weather.

NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM®** features automatic collision notification, emergency call and stolen vehicle locator, customizable alerts, dealer service scheduling and maintenance alerts. It comes standard on Platinum grade.

As in previous years, the 2017 Pathfinder's 3-row/7-passenger interior combines comfortable seating with the cargo capacity that families need every day. It offers the benefits of a mid-size crossover with the comfort of a larger SUV, including a flat floor for enhanced interior packaging flexibility and ample space. Overall interior roominess is 173.8 cubic feet (passenger and cargo areas combined).

Every 2017 Pathfinder interior is anchored by Nissan's innovative EZ Flex Seating System™ with LATCH AND GLIDE™, a 2nd row tilt and glide seat that allows easy 3rd row access with a child safety seat remaining securely in place (on the passenger curb side).

A wide range of seating and cargo carrying combinations are available with the 2nd row 60/40-split seat with manual slide/recline/fold flat and 3rd row 50/50-split seat with manual recline/flat fold. New cloth seat fabric is added for S and SV grades, along with new interior finishers for SL and Platinum grade levels. Leather-appointed seating is standard on SL and Platinum models.

Pathfinder's quiet, comfortable interior also includes a wide range of available features, including two rows of rich leather-appointed seating surfaces, heated and cooled front seats, heated 2nd row seats, heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, multiple user memory settings and an advanced Bose® Audio System with 13 speakers.

Pathfinder also offers available class-exclusive*** Around View® Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD) added for 2017. Other available technology includes Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System and iPod® integration. The tri-zone Family Entertainment system includes 2nd row head restraint-mounted DVD display screens. The rear displays are now 8-inch QHD designs (versus the previous 7-inch WVGA) and include auto brightness control and USB and HDMI rear source inputs. The rear display can be easily controlled from the front with a more user-friendly display.

An available remote engine start**** function allows the climate control system to warm up or cool down the interior prior to driving (standard on SV, SL and Platinum).

The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), available with individual tire pressure display, comes with standard Easy-Fill Tire Alert that provides both visual and audible signals to help owners conveniently maintain correct tire pressures without the use of a gauge.

Revised 3.5-liter V6 Engine, Class-Leading* 6,000-lb Towing Capacity

In a major step up of its already highly capable adventure credentials, Pathfinder's new 3.5-liter V6 engine features more power, torque and towing capacity. It utilizes more than 50 percent new or new-to-Pathfinder engine parts and components – including combustion chamber design, pistons, intake manifold and e-VTC (fully electronic on intake). The compression ratio has also been raised to 11.0:1 (from the previous 10.3:1).

The engine's new Direct Injection Gasoline™ (DIG) system, which is also utilized on the all-new flagship Nissan Armada full-size SUV, provides better wide-open throttle performance and improved fuel economy and emissions performance (versus a non-direct-injection system). The switch to mirror bore cylinder coating reduces engine weight by around three pounds and reduces friction between the piston ring and the cylinder wall. The technology eliminates the need for a heavy cast iron cylinder liner.

Horsepower for the new V6 increases to 284 hp (from the previous 260 hp) and torque is now rated at 259 lb-ft (up from 240 lb-ft). And, while adding more horsepower and torque, Pathfinder fuel economy remains 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined (2WD models) (estimated).

All 2017 Pathfinder models are equipped with Nissan's third-generation Xtronic transmission (similar to that utilized in the sporty Nissan Maxima). The Xtronic transmission includes D-Step Logic Control, which simulates shifts, giving a more natural acceleration feeling.

The new Pathfinder powertrain helps provide real world driving benefits of more responsive acceleration and re-acceleration, such as when entering highways or passing.

Maximum towing capacity has increased by 1,000 pounds to a best-in-class* 6,000 pounds (when properly equipped) due to the enhanced powertrain and body reinforcements added around the trailer hitch area. The advanced Xtronic transmission design also helps keep engine rpm optimized while towing without the typical "hunting for a gear" feel.

"As part of Nissan's ongoing, extensive research into consumers' real-world towing activities, we've found that mid-size SUV owners really want the ability to tow two-axle recreational trailers, whether for watercraft, flatbeds or campers," said Bunce. "The 2017 Pathfinder now fits most of those needs with the added confidence of its standard 6,000-pound towing rating."

As in previous years, Pathfinder also features selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD Lock modes from the available intuitive ALL-MODE 4x4-i system. With the available intuitive four-wheel drive, Pathfinder continues to serve as an excellent vehicle for inclement weather driving conditions.

Pathfinder is the only vehicle in class***** with selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD Lock modes for its available intuitive ALL-MODE 4x4-i system. The system lets the driver choose full-time 2WD for maximum fuel economy, Auto mode to automatically monitor conditions and adjust the balance of power between front and rear wheels for best traction, or 4WD Lock mode when full-time 4WD is desired.

In addition, standard Hill Start Assist helps prevent control when starting and driving away on a steep incline (both 4WD and 2WD models), while standard Hill Descent Control (4WD only) helps by adjusting speed and brake pressure when traveling slowly down steep, rough terrain grades.

Pathfinder's extensively retuned 4-wheel independent suspension (versus the 2016 Pathfinder) also contributes to the enhanced driving dynamics, offering improved body control and a more refined ride. Among the revised or retuned suspension components are 11 percent stiffer front shock absorbers and seven percent stiffer rear shocks. Rebound springs have been added to the front struts to help assist with roll balance and body control. The spring rates of the rear rebound springs have also been increased by 25 percent.

"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. The result is the Pathfinder remains flatter while cornering and road vibrations are well controlled, especially on rough roads and during off-road driving," said Bunce.

In addition, a revised hydraulic electric steering system provides an improved cornering feel (versus the 2016 Pathfinder). The steering ratio is 11 percent quicker, due to a revised valve design, for less steering angle input – enhancing maneuverability.

The 2017 Pathfinder's advanced driver assistance technology includes new Forward Emergency Braking (FEB) and Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC). For 2017, Moving Object Detection (MOD) has been added to the available Around View® Monitor (AVM). Also available are Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

Standard safety and security features include Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (includes dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and an occupant classification sensor), 3-point seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, supplemental front seat-mounted side-impact air bags, roof-mounted supplemental curtain air bags for side impact and rollover head protection for outboard passengers in all three rows (includes rollover sensor), 3-point seat belts for rear seat occupants, including 2nd row center position, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) – 2nd row outboard seating positions only, child safety rear door locks, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS).

A Choice of Models and Packages

The 2017 Pathfinder comes in four well-equipped models, starting with the Pathfinder S with 284-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, Xtronic transmission and available ALL-MODE 4x4-i system. Standard features include NissanConnect with 8.0-inch color display, HD Radio, SiriusXM® Satellite Radio**, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, EZ Flex Seating System™ with LATCH AND GLIDE™, Tri-Zone Automatic Temperature Control, RearView Monitor and Advanced Drive-AssistÔ Display (ADAD).

Pathfinder SV models add a range of features including Nissan Intelligent Key®, 8-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift lever, Rear Sonar, fog lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® Universal Transceiver, remote engine start**** and much more.

Pathfinder SL models include leather-appointed heated 1st and 2nd row seats, 4-way power front passenger's seat, driver's seat 2-way power lumbar support, heated steering wheel, Motion-Activated power liftgate with liftgate position memory, Around View® Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), among other features.

Pathfinder Platinum models offer unique 20-inch machined aluminum-alloy wheels, 235/55R20 tires, LED headlights, NissanConnect with Navigation and Services**, NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM®**, Bose® 13-speaker premium audio system, cooled front seats, woodgrain finishers, Dual Panorama Moonroof, Trailer Tow Package, Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) and more.

Several option packages are offered for 2017: the Trailer Tow Package; the SV Cold Package with heated front cloth seats, heated steering wheel and heated outside rearview mirrors; and the SV Tech Package with NissanConnect with Navigation and Services**, NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM®**, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

Also offered are the SL Tech Package, which features the Bose® 13-speaker Premium Audio System, NissanConnect with Navigation and Services, NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM®** and trailer hitch receiver and trailer towing harness; and the SL Premium Package with NissanConnect with Navigation and Services, NissanConnect Services powered by SiriusXM®**, Bose® 13-speaker Premium Audio System, Dual Panorama Moonroof and tow hitch receiver with integrated finisher.

The Family Entertainment Package adds the dual 8.0-inch headrest DVD/Family Entertainment System with rear seat wireless headphones, wireless remote control, rear headphone jacks with volume control, USB port, HDMI jack and VTR jack.