Pros: High-quality interior; top-notch safety; easily accessed third row; competitive prices; above-average tow capacity; cool Rock Creek Edition
Cons: Worse to drive than rivals with odd steering response and weird ride with 20-inch wheels; less third-row space
The 2024 Nissan Pathfinder doesn’t get the attention it probably deserves, but it’s understandable. It gets overshadowed in the three-row family crossover segment by sales heavy hitters (Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot) and critical darlings (Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade). It also replaced a vehicle two years ago that was so uncompetitive and unmemorable that it managed to erase the word “Pathfinder” from the collective consciousness of would-be buyers, and to be honest, car reviewers. Ultimately, the fact that the Pathfinder isn’t quite as solid as those critical darlings and others means it falls short of being a class leader, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance.
There’s an awful lot to like. It looks great, especially with its available contrasting black roof and selection of bold, modern colors. The rugged Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition steps the style game up even further, while adding more capability than most such outdoor adventure trims. You may actually be able to find some paths with it! Ultimately, though, the Pathfinder is a family hauler, and for that purpose, it impresses with a modern, high-quality interior that boast easy-to-use controls and useful storage. Third-row space and cargo capacity aren’t as generous as the competitors mentioned above (minus the Highlander), but it’s still a three-row family crossover, and we’re ultimately talking about degrees of “big” here. Similarly, its competitors tend to be just a little bit better to drive.
So that’s really what we’re talking about here. The Pathfinder doesn’t quite make the podium, but it turns in a solid-enough performance that there’s a strong possibility that you might like what it brings to the table more than the others. There’s also the matter of pricing: the Pathfinder tends to ask less for comparable trim levels and, as it does fly under the radar, we wouldn’t be surprised if there are better deals to be found.
What’s new for 2024?
The Pathfinder is unchanged for 2024.
What are the Pathfinder interior and in-car technology like?
This is the Pathfinder’s best attribute. Although the range-topping Platinum trim level pictured above in tan is its best foot forward, complete with handsome two-tone leather/pleather all over the place, even lower trim levels benefit from the same handsome design, thoughtful storage and user-friendly technology. General materials quality is average for the segment, which speaks to how good the segment is.
The center console features a vast pad to charge your smartphone, be it wired or wireless on upper trims, plus a smaller bin to prop up your phone should you prefer. The cupholders are big and versatile, the under-armrest and door bins are large, and there’s bonus storage under the console. You can also get a removable center console in between the available second-row captain’s chairs.
A 9-inch touchscreen is standard on the SL and Platinum trim levels, and features a user interface that really nails a sweet spot of aesthetics and functionality. There are hard buttons and knobs, plus a stationary row of on-screen menu icons, which are always appreciated. The display itself is high resolution and features vibrant colors with attractive, legible graphics. It may not be ultra-wide (as in the Palisade and Telluride) or tall (Explorer), but it’s big enough, easy to see and works well. The 8-inch screen found in the S, SV and Rock Creek trims (pictured below with black interior) has fewer features to control and obviously is smaller, but its functionality is essentially the same.
How big is the Pathfinder?
The 2024 Pathfinder is basically the same size on the outside as the Palisade, Telluride, Subaru Ascent, etc. Differences inside are more noticeable, however, particularly in the third row where the seat is a little closer to the floor than you’d find in those mentioned above and therefore less spacious and comfortable. Nissan’s means of getting back there is better than most, however, as the second-row not only slides forward at the touch of a button (that’s quite common), but does so in a way that provides more space to squeeze back into the third-row and allows you to keep forward-facing child seats installed. That could easily be deal-sealer for some.
Cargo space behind the raised third row measures at 16.6 cubic-feet. On paper, that would make it barely better than the disappointing Toyota Highlander, but in practice, the Pathfinder’s boxy shape and useful under-floor storage actually help it carry more stuff than its specs would indicate. We could fit four medium-sized suitcases back there plus a duffle bag under the floor, but that still puts in mid-pack for the segment. You can see all of our real-world cargo tests for the segment here. Otherwise, the Pathfinder’s cargo area measures 45 cubic-feet with the third row lowered and 80.5 with both rear rows lowered, which are big enough that differences with competitors shouldn’t matter much.
What are the Pathfinder’s fuel economy and performance specs?
Every Pathfinder comes with a 3.5-liter V6 and a nine-speed automatic. It produces 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque in most trims, but the Rock Creek Edition gets a little more oomph with 295 hp and 270 lb-ft. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims but the Rock Creek. It comes standard with the same all-wheel-drive system that’s optional on the other trims.
Fuel economy depends on drivetrain and trim level. Front-wheel drive models get 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, while the AWD S, SV and SL curiously get just a bit better at 21/27/23. Can’t see we’ve seen that before. The Platinum goes down to 20/25/22 with AWD, while the Rock Creek is in the basement at 20/23/21. There’s a price to be paid for its cool all-terrain tires and roof rack.
Towing capacity is 6,000 pounds with AWD (it’s 3,500 with FWD), which is considerably better than the segment’s norm of 5,000 pounds or less. The standard tow hitch on AWD models is also handy for hitch-mounted bike racks and gear solutions.
What’s the Pathfinder like to drive?
At best, the Pathfinder delivers what’s expected for the segment. It doesn’t stand out, but it also doesn’t have irritating habits like its bland, squishy predecessor. In particular, it’s hard to find fault with the naturally aspirated V6 that delivers solid power and the nine-speed automatic that fades into the background.
However, the steering effort and response never feels quite right – perhaps a tad too slow given the amount of effort. The Platinum’s 20-inch wheels also produce an usual ride that combine a firm response to harsher impacts with a relaxed response to large bumps and undulations. We’d avoid that trim, but honestly, we have not tested an S, SV or SL to see how much of a difference there is. We have driven a Rock Creek, however, and can report that its all-terrain tires keep the ride and interior noise well within the realm of comfort even though there are degradations in both areas. You’ll also find it to be far more civilized on-road than a Toyota 4Runner, for instance.
Off-road, that ancient Toyota will make a mockery of its one-time apples-to-apples competitor that has since become a three-row crossover. Nevertheless, the Rock Creek’s upgrades are definitely improvements over what you’d get in other Pathfinder trims should you frequent campsites or other outdoor spots. You also won’t suffer if you’re mostly attracted to its cooler looks.
What other Nissan Pathfinder reviews can I read?
2022 Nissan Pathfinder First Drive Review | Automatically better; still not the best
Read this for more information about all that changed for 2022, plus a deeper dive into what it’s like to drive.
2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition Road Test
Details about what you get with the new-for-2023 Rock Creek Edition
Nissan Pathfinder Luggage Test
See how much you can fit behind the raised third-row seat, plus comparisons to most competitors.
What is the 2024 Pathfinder’s price?
The Pathfinder generally costs a bit less than its rivals. The Rock Creek Edition in particular is much cheaper than similar outdoor adventure trim levels like the Honda Pilot TrailSport, Ford Explorer Timberline and Kia Telluride X-Pro. As such, it’s the Pathfinder’s most competitive version.
The Rock Creek Edition is also the most distinctive version as all other trims represent the usual ladder-type escalation of equipment and upgrades with each version. The Rock Creek is ultimately a mid-grade model in terms of equipment, but gains a modest, 0.6-inch ground clearance lift to 7.7 inches, an off-road-tuned suspension, beadlock-looking 18-inch wheels, Toyo Open Country all-terrain tires, lots of matte black body cladding, and a platform-style roof rack. Oh, and lots and lots of Rock Creek badges.
All prices below include the $1,365 destination charge. All-wheel drive is a $1,900 option for all trim levels but the Rock Creek, which includes it as standard.
Rock Creek: $45,165
What are the Pathfinder’s safety ratings and driver assistance features?
Every 2024 Pathfinder includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking that detects pedestrians and cyclists; rear automatic braking (a rare feature); blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning (usually optional); and lane-departure warning. Steering intervention for the blind-spot and lane-departure system is added on all but the base S. The top three trims also have Nissan ProPilot Assist, the advanced adaptive cruise control system that adds well-executed steering assist system. You have to keep a hand on the wheel, but the car does most of the work.
The NHTSA gave the Pathfinder five out of five stars for overall and side crash protection, and four stars for frontal and rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Pathfinder a Top Safety Pick+ for its best-possible scores in all crash test and crash prevention categories. Its headlights were rated “Acceptable.”