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3917 Pathfinder on sale in September
<p><strong>&#39;17 Pathfinder on sale in September.</strong></p>

Nissan Updates Pathfinder’s Power, Looks for ’17

An increase in engine output, thanks in part to the addition of direct injection, helps boost towing capability to best-in-class, while safety technology is added and styling updated.

Four years after its last full redesign, Nissan refreshes the Pathfinder midsize CUV for ’17.

Its returning 3.5L VQ V-6, a multiple Wards 10 Best Engines winner, now makes 24 more horsepower, while the 3-row CUV also receives updated interior and exterior styling, added safety equipment, stiffer shocks, expanded infotainment and 1,000 lbs. (454 kg) more towing capability, which the automaker says makes the Pathfinder best-in-class compared with others in WardsAuto’s Large CUV segment.

“As part of Nissan’s ongoing, extensive research into consumers’ real-world towing activities, we’ve found that midsize SUV owners really want the ability to tow 2-axle recreational trailers, whether for watercraft, flatbeds or campers,” Michael Bunce, vice president-product planning for Nissan North America, says in a statement ahead of a Detroit reveal today. “The ’17 Pathfinder now fits most of those needs with the added confidence of its standard 6,000-lb. (2,722-kg) towing rating.”

The CUV’s “enhanced” powertrain is a key reason for the increased towing capability, Nissan says.

As it did last year for the VQ in the Maxima sedan, Nissan has added new parts and components – more than 50% new or new-to-Pathfinder. The updates include new pistons, intake manifold, a new combustion-chamber design and electronic variable valve timing control. The compression ratio also is raised to 11.0:1 compared with 10.3:1 in the ’16 Pathfinder.

The 284-hp 3.5L also gets Nissan’s new direct-injection system, soon to be featured on the new Armada large SUV, which provides “better wide-open throttle performance and improved fuel economy and emissions performance vs. a non-DI system,” Nissan says.

The addition of direct injection is a big deal and long overdue, as the VQ has relied on tried-and-true port injection since its arrival more than 20 years ago. Even the 3.5L VQ that was massively overhauled for the ’16 Maxima relied on port injection, and it landed on the 2016 Wards 10 Best Engines list for its cool confidence and sterling midrange.

This new VQ in the Pathfinder also will be eligible for the 2017 competition.

Pathfinder fuel economy is estimated to remain 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km) combined on front-wheel-drive models despite the jump from 260 hp to 284 hp, and a 19-lb.-ft. (26-Nm) torque hike to 259 lb.-ft. (351 Nm), Nissan says.

Like the Maxima, the Pathfinder uses Jatco’s third-generation Xtronic CVT, which has simulated shifts. An earlier generation of the CVT in ’13 and ’14 Pathfinders has been a source of angst for some owners and a target of a class-action lawsuit due to allegations of excessive shuddering or juddering.

The Pathfinder retains its 2WD, Auto or 4-wheel-drive lock modes and standard hill-start assist and hill descent control.

The CUV’s independent suspension gets 11% stiffer front shocks and 7% stiffer rear shocks. To mitigate roll, pitch and bounce, rebound springs are added to front shocks and rear-rebound spring rates are increased 25%.

Styling Improves Aero

Various appearance updates to the Pathfinder for ’17 improve its aerodynamic performance. A redesigned grille, which enhances cooling, and a more forward front-chin spoiler, reduce coefficient of drag to 0.326 from. 0.34 in the ’16 model.

Other styling changes include a more aggressive hood, front bumper and fog lights, Nissan says. In the rear there is a “stronger-looking” bumper.

Inside, the center console is revised and includes cupholders reshaped to fit a mug handle. There are new options for wood and metallic trim and seat cloth for ’17, and seating material has deeper tones and greater contrast.

A foot-activated power liftgate, standard on SL and Platinum grades of the Pathfinder, is new for ’17.

Other added creature comforts include two USB ports on the center console vs. one in the outgoing ’16 model, a high-definition microphone to improve voice-recognition capability and an updated cluster display that adds infotainment and driver-assistance information.

The standard touchscreen gets 1-in. (25-mm) bigger and navigation goes from a DVD system to the NissanConnect cloud-based system which offers SiriusXM’s Travel Link free for three years. Navigation is standard on the Platinum grade and optional on SV and SL grades for ’17. Improved human-machine-interface graphics also are new for ’17 and the optional NissanConnect Services has an improved Internet-navigation search with a live agent available.

Adaptive cruise control and forward emergency braking are new safety features for ’17, standard on Platinum grades, while the CUV’s Around View Monitor, standard on the SL grade, now can detect moving objects.

Sales of the Pathfinder were down 5.2% in the first half of 2016, WardsAuto data shows. However, the vehicle, with 39,759 units sold in the year’s first six months, has the second-biggest market share in the Large CUV segment. The Pathfinder’s 23.1% share is second only to the Chevy Traverse’s class-leading 31.7% and just ahead of the GMC Acadia’s 22.2%. Last year, the Pathfinder finished third in segment share after the No.1 and No.2 Traverse and Acadia.

Since the current generation Pathfinder went on sale in late 2012 as a ’13 model, sales have fluctuated from a high of 88,632 in 2013 to 79,111 in 2014.

Overall, large CUVs such as the Pathfinder have seen slower growth than small and midsize models, as new entrants flood the former category and sales rise in the latter as more American car buyers switch to CUVs.

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