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Is the Nissan Pathfinder a Good Car?

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The Nissan Pathfinder has long been a popular choice for Canadian families seeking a spacious, versatile, and reliable midsize SUV. With its three rows of seating, ample cargo capacity, and reputation for durability, the Pathfinder has earned a loyal following among drivers across the country. However, as the competition in the midsize SUV segment continues to intensify, it’s worth taking a closer look at the latest iteration of the Pathfinder to determine if it still holds up as a top pick for Canadian drivers.


For the 2023 model year, Nissan has given the Pathfinder a significant overhaul, with a complete redesign that brings updated styling, new technology features, and improved performance. These changes aim to keep the Pathfinder fresh and competitive in a crowded market, but the question remains: Is the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder a good car for Canadian drivers and families?


In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we’ll dive deep into the Pathfinder’s key strengths and weaknesses, exploring its performance, handling, interior comfort, utility, safety features, and overall value proposition. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of whether the 2023 Pathfinder is the right choice for your driving needs and lifestyle in Canada.

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Performance & Handling

Under the hood, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder packs a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers a robust 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain provides confident acceleration and ample power for passing on the highway or towing a trailer. Speaking of towing, the Pathfinder boasts an impressive maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds when properly equipped. This capability allows Canadian families to bring along boats, campers, or recreational toys on their adventures.

For added traction and control, the Pathfinder offers an available Intelligent 4WD system with a 4WD lock mode. This helps provide extra grip on slippery or off-road conditions that drivers may encounter across Canada’s diverse landscapes. The 4WD system seamlessly transfers power between the front and rear wheels to maximize traction.

The Pathfinder’s powertrain feels responsive, with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) providing smooth and linear acceleration. While some CVTs can feel unrefined, Nissan has tuned this one to feel natural and direct. The acceleration won’t blow you away, but it’s more than adequate for daily driving and highway passing.

Where the Pathfinder falls a bit behind rivals like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade is in overall driving dynamics and handling. The Pathfinder’s suspension tuning and hefty curb weight give it a planted feel on the highway but make it feel a bit cumbersome when tackling tight corners or twisty roads. It’s not sloppy by any means, but more enthusiastic drivers may find it lacks the agility and responsiveness of some competitors.

 

Interior Comfort and Utility

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder excels at providing a spacious and versatile interior that caters to the needs of Canadian families. With three rows of seating, it can accommodate up to seven passengers with ease. The front and second-row seats offer ample legroom and headroom, ensuring a comfortable ride even for taller occupants.

When it comes to cargo space, the Pathfinder shines. With all three rows in use, there’s still a respectable 16.6 cubic feet of cargo room available – perfect for stowing groceries or small luggage. However, when you need to maximize space, the second and third rows can fold flat, opening up a cavernous 79.5 cubic feet of cargo volume. This makes the Pathfinder an ideal companion for road trips, camping adventures, or hauling bulky items.

Storage compartments and cupholders are thoughtfully placed throughout the cabin, ensuring that every passenger has a convenient spot for their belongings and beverages. The center console features a deep bin that can swallow up larger items, while the door pockets provide additional space for smaller items.

For those who crave an open-air feeling, the Pathfinder offers an available panoramic moonroof that spans both the first and second rows. This feature not only brightens up the interior but also creates a sense of spaciousness and connection with the great Canadian outdoors.

Comfort is a top priority in the Pathfinder, with heated front seats now coming standard across the lineup. Higher trim levels also offer heated second-row seats and a heated steering wheel, ensuring that occupants remain cozy even on the chilliest Canadian winter days. The cabin is well-insulated from exterior noise, providing a serene environment for conversations or enjoying your favorite music.

 

Safety and Technology Features

Safety should be a top priority for any family vehicle, and the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder delivers with its comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems. The Nissan Safety Shield 360 comes standard across all trim levels, providing a crucial layer of protection on Canadian roads.

This safety suite includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking. These features act as an extra set of eyes on the road, alerting you to potential hazards and even intervening to avoid or mitigate collisions.

For those seeking an even higher level of driver assistance, the Pathfinder offers Nissan’s innovative ProPilot Assist system. This cutting-edge technology combines adaptive cruise control and steering assistance to provide semi-autonomous driving capabilities. With ProPilot Assist engaged, the Pathfinder can automatically maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, keep itself centred in the lane, and even restart from a complete stop in heavy traffic – a game-changer for Canadian commuters.

Inside the cabin, the Pathfinder impresses with its modern and intuitive infotainment system. A 12.3-inch digital dashboard and a 9-inch touchscreen display provide clear visuals and easy access to various functions. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration allow you to seamlessly connect your smartphone and access your favourite apps and services on the go.

Keeping everyone connected is essential for long family road trips, and the Pathfinder delivers with its built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. This feature allows multiple devices to access the internet simultaneously, ensuring no one misses out on their favourite streaming content or online activities while on the move.

 

Trim Levels and Pricing for Canada

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is offered in four well-equipped trim levels for Canadian buyers: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. Prices start at $46,898 CAD for the base S model, making the Pathfinder an attractively priced option in the midsize three-row SUV segment.

The S trim comes nicely equipped with tri-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and Nissan’s excellent Safety Shield 360 suite of driver aids. However, most buyers will likely step up to the SV trim ($50,398 CAD) which adds heated front seats, remote engine start, a power liftgate, and more.

The SL trim ($54,098 CAD) represents the sweet spot in the lineup for many Canadian families. In addition to leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel, the SL gains a panoramic moonroof, a larger 9-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration, and Nissan’s semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist system. These amenities make the SL a tremendous value.

At the top of the range, the Platinum model ($58,098 CAD) pulls out all the stops with premium features like quilted semi-aniline leather, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless charging pad, and a tow hitch receiver with wiring harness. While luxurious, the Platinum trim commands a significant price premium over the well-equipped SL.

 

The Pathfinder vs The Competition

When shopping for a midsize three-row SUV in Canada, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder faces some stiff competition from well-established rivals like the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Hyundai Palisade. While all these vehicles offer family-friendly interiors and versatile cargo capabilities, the Pathfinder distinguishes itself in several key areas.

Compared to the Toyota Highlander, the Pathfinder delivers stronger acceleration thanks to its robust 3.5L V6 engine producing 284 horsepower. The Pathfinder’s towing capacity of 6,000 lbs also surpasses the Highlander’s 5,000 lb rating. The Nissan provides a more engaging driving experience with its responsive steering and available Intelligent 4WD system.

Against the Ford Explorer, the Pathfinder boasts a smoother ride quality and superior fuel efficiency from its refined powertrain. Nissan’s innovative safety technologies like ProPilot Assist also give the Pathfinder an edge over the Explorer’s driver aid suite. The Pathfinder’s cabin feels more upscale, with higher-quality materials and a more intuitive control layout.

While the Honda Pilot matches the Pathfinder’s seating for up to 8 passengers, the Nissan offers more standard advanced safety features and in-cabin technologies. The Pathfinder’s sleeker exterior styling and available two-tone paint schemes also give it a more modern, appealing look compared to the conservatively-designed Pilot.

The Hyundai Palisade stands out with its luxurious cabin and extensive list of premium amenities. However, the Pathfinder delivers stronger performance from its V6 engine, along with higher towing capabilities that may appeal more to outdoor enthusiasts. The Nissan also holds an advantage with its more comprehensive driver assistance tech.

Overall, the redesigned 2023 Pathfinder occupies a smart middle ground in the midsize SUV segment. It provides a compelling blend of family utility, comfort amenities, powertrain muscle, and advanced technologies that allow it to go toe-to-toe with the leaders in this competitive class. The Pathfinder emerges as an excellent all-around choice for Canadian SUV buyers prioritizing value, safety, and versatility.

 

Pathfinder’s Canadian Heritage

The Nissan Pathfinder has a long and storied history in Canada, with roots tracing back to the 1980s when it first hit the market as a rugged, truck-based SUV. Over the years, the Pathfinder has evolved to meet the changing needs of Canadian drivers, transitioning from a pure off-road vehicle to a more refined and family-friendly crossover.

In its early days, the Pathfinder was built on the same platform as the Nissan Hardbody pickup, making it a capable and durable choice for outdoor adventures and challenging terrain. As the SUV market shifted towards car-based crossovers, Nissan adapted the Pathfinder to offer a smoother ride, more interior space, and better fuel efficiency, while still retaining its adventurous spirit.

Notably, the Pathfinder has deep manufacturing roots in Canada. From 1992 to 2014, the Pathfinder was assembled at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, with many components sourced from Canadian suppliers. In 2014, production shifted to the company’s state-of-the-art facility in Kyushu, Japan, but the Pathfinder’s ties to Canada remain strong.

Today, the Pathfinder is a popular choice among Canadian families, offering a perfect blend of capability, comfort, and convenience. With its spacious three-row seating, advanced safety features, and rugged yet refined design, the Pathfinder continues to evolve to meet the unique needs of Canadian drivers, whether they’re navigating city streets or embarking on outdoor adventures.

 

Driving the Pathfinder in Canada

Canadian drivers demand a capable and comfortable SUV that can handle the country’s diverse weather and road conditions. The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder delivers on this front, offering a well-rounded driving experience tailored to the needs of Canadian families.

When the snow starts falling and temperatures drop, the Pathfinder’s available Intelligent 4WD system provides enhanced traction and control. This advanced all-wheel-drive system can automatically distribute power between the front and rear wheels, ensuring optimal grip on slippery surfaces. Combined with the Pathfinder’s robust ground clearance, Canadian drivers can confidently navigate through snowy or icy conditions.

For those long Canadian road trips, the Pathfinder’s smooth and composed ride quality ensures a relaxing journey. The cabin remains well-insulated from road noise and vibrations, creating a serene environment for passengers. The available ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system can also help reduce fatigue during extended highway stints by controlling the vehicle’s acceleration, braking, and steering within a single lane.

Fuel efficiency is another important consideration for Canadian drivers, and the Pathfinder delivers respectable numbers for its size. With the standard 3.5-liter V6 engine, the Pathfinder achieves an estimated combined fuel economy rating of 9.9 L/100km (24 mpg). While not class-leading, this fuel efficiency strikes a good balance between performance and efficiency, ensuring reasonable operating costs for Canadian families.

 

The Pathfinder Ownership Experience

When considering the Nissan Pathfinder, it’s essential to understand the potential ownership experience. Overall, the Pathfinder has a reputation for being a reliable and durable SUV, particularly in recent years. However, like any vehicle, it’s not without its potential issues.

According to data from reputable sources, the Pathfinder has an above-average reliability rating. Owners generally report few significant problems, with most issues being minor and easily addressed. Common complaints include problems with the infotainment system, squeaks and rattles from the interior, and occasional transmission issues. However, these problems are not widespread and are often covered under Nissan’s warranty.

Speaking of warranties, Nissan offers a competitive coverage package for the Pathfinder. The SUV comes with a 3-year/60,000 km basic warranty, a 5-year/100,000 km powertrain warranty, and a 5-year/unlimited-kilometer corrosion warranty. This level of coverage provides peace of mind for Canadian drivers, especially those who plan to keep their Pathfinder for several years.

Ownership costs for the Pathfinder are generally in line with other midsize SUVs. Routine maintenance and repair costs are reasonable, and the Pathfinder’s fuel efficiency is respectable for its size. However, it’s worth noting that the Pathfinder requires premium gasoline, which can add to the overall operating costs.

When it comes to customer service and dealer support, Nissan has a strong presence in Canada with a nationwide network of dealerships. Canadian owners generally report positive experiences with Nissan’s customer service, with many praising the brand’s responsiveness and willingness to address any issues that may arise.

 

Top Pathfinder Features for Canadian Families

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is packed with family-friendly features that make it an ideal choice for Canadian drivers with kids and pets. One standout feature is the versatile seating configuration, which provides three rows of spacious seating for up to seven passengers. The second-row seats slide and tilt forward with the EZ FLEX Seating System, allowing easy access to the third row – perfect for loading kids and car seats.

For keeping little ones entertained on long road trips, the Pathfinder offers an available rear seat entertainment system with dual 8-inch displays, wireless headphones, and a remote control. This system can play DVDs, stream videos, or mirror content from compatible mobile devices. Kids will also appreciate the available tri-zone automatic climate control, which allows rear passengers to adjust their temperature settings independently.

Safety is paramount for families, and the Pathfinder delivers with its comprehensive suite of driver assist technologies. The standard Nissan Safety Shield 360 includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking. Additionally, Nissan’s innovative Rear Door Alert system can remind you to check the rear seats after parking, helping prevent tragic hot car incidents.

For pet owners, the Pathfinder’s interior is designed with easy-clean surfaces and an innovative Dual-Level Cargo System. This provides a lower cargo area for housing furry friends during drives, keeping the main cargo floor clear. When the second and third rows are folded flat, the Pathfinder offers a massive 79.5 cubic feet of cargo space – ideal for hauling strollers, sports equipment, and camping gear.

Everyday driving is made easier with features like Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor, which gives you a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the vehicle for tight parking situations. The hands-free liftgate also allows quick cargo access when your hands are full. For cold Canadian winters, the Pathfinder offers heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and remote engine start as standard or available equipment.

 

Should You Buy the 2023 Pathfinder in Canada?

The fully redesigned 2023 Nissan Pathfinder makes a compelling case as a top choice for Canadian families seeking a versatile, spacious, and well-equipped three-row SUV. Its key strengths include a powerful V6 engine with robust towing capabilities, a comfortable and feature-rich interior, and a comprehensive suite of standard safety technologies.

On the downside, the Pathfinder’s size and weight make it feel a bit cumbersome when cornering, and its fuel economy ratings trail some lighter competitors. Additionally, while the cabin is well-built, some rivals offer a more premium look and feel.

Overall, the 2023 Pathfinder represents an excellent value proposition for Canadian drivers who prioritize practicality, versatility, and long-term ownership satisfaction. Its blend of performance, utility, and safety features make it an ideal family hauler that can confidently tackle everything from daily commutes to road trips and outdoor adventures.

The Pathfinder is particularly well-suited for growing families, thanks to its roomy third row and ample cargo space. Its strong towing capacity also makes it a sensible choice for those who frequently tow boats, campers, or trailers. And with standard safety technologies like automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, the Pathfinder provides peace of mind.

Buyers seeking a more engaging driving experience or a more upscale cabin ambiance may want to consider alternatives like the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, or Mazda CX-9. But for a well-rounded, value-packed three-row SUV that excels at the fundamentals, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is tough to beat.

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Questions About The Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder is an excellent choice for Canadian families looking for a spacious and versatile SUV. It seats up to 7 or 8 passengers comfortably and has lots of cargo space. The Pathfinder is available with intelligent all-wheel drive for added capability in snow and ice. It has a smooth and powerful V6 engine, comfortable ride quality, and many standard and available safety features. Owners report excellent long-term reliability as well. The Pathfinder offers everything most Canadian families need in an SUV package.

The SV and Platinum trim levels of the Pathfinder are the most popular in Canada. These offer a nice balance of features, comfort, and value. Many Canadian buyers also choose the optional Premium Package on the SV trim, which adds a power liftgate, panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and more premium features. The Rock Creek Edition package, new for 2023, also appeals to buyers who want a more rugged look with blacked-out accents.

With an available intelligent all-wheel drive system, the Pathfinder handles winter driving quite capably. The AWD system automatically adjusts power distribution as needed for maximum traction. Owners say the Pathfinder maintains composure on snowy roads and icy conditions. It also has ample ground clearance for deeper snow. The heated front seats, steering wheel, and available heated rear seats make the cabin nice and toasty. Proper winter tires are still recommended for maximum winter grip and safety.

The 2023 Pathfinder achieves decent fuel economy for its class. Front-wheel drive models with the 3.5L V6 engine earn ratings of 12.1 L/100 km city, 9.1 highway, and 10.8 combined. The all-wheel drive Pathfinder sees slightly lower ratings of 12.3 city, 9.5 highway, and 11.1 combined. These numbers are quite good considering the Pathfinder’s size, power, and 8-passenger seating capacity.

The Pathfinder has earned a reputation as a very reliable SUV over multiple generations. In Consumer Reports rankings, it has above-average predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores. Owners commonly report driving their Pathfinders for many years and high mileages with few significant issues. Proper scheduled maintenance helps Pathfinders last over 300,000 km in some cases. This reliability makes it very popular among Canadian families looking for an SUV they can count on.

Nissan supports the Pathfinder with a competitive 3 year/60,000 km bumper-to-bumper warranty and a longer 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty. There are also extended warranty options up to 7 years/140,000 available for added peace of mind. Nissan’s warranty coverage protects owners from most repair costs due to defects over the warranty periods. This coverage is on par with most other midsize SUVs.

With all seats in place, the Pathfinder offers 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. Folding the third row down opens up 45 cubic feet, while folding both rear rows provides 80 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. This space competes well with other midsize SUVs and gives owners excellent versatility for hauling luggage, sports gear, camping equipment, and everyday cargo. There is also ample storage throughout the cabin for smaller items.

All 2023 Pathfinders now come standard with an intuitive 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and has Bluetooth, navigation capabilities, satellite radio, and more. Higher Platinum trim levels upgrade to an excellent 9-inch touchscreen with a better graphics and added features. Most owners find the Pathfinder’s infotainment technology straightforward to use with clear menus and physical shortcut buttons.

The Nissan Pathfinder earns high marks for safety. It receives a 5-Star overall rating in federal crash tests and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. All models come equipped with essential safety tech like automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, lane departure warning, and more. Higher trims add even more advanced driver aids. Between its safety ratings and standard accident avoidance technologies, the Pathfinder provides excellent protection for Canadian families.

Overall, the modern Pathfinder has relatively few widespread complaints from owners. Earlier model years had some issues with transmission shuddering and excessive oil consumption, but these problems have since been addressed. Some owners report minor frustrations with the infotainment responsiveness or wish for more power from the V6 engine. However, most agree the Pathfinder provides an excellent overall ownership experience. As with any vehicle, staying up to date on maintenance is key for longevity.

The Pathfinder and Highlander appeal to shoppers looking for well-rounded midsize SUVs with 3 rows of seating. The Highlander offers slightly more overall passenger space, while the Pathfinder provides more maximum cargo room. Performance and fuel economy are quite comparable. The Pathfinder tends to provide a better value, with more features per dollar spent. It also earns higher predicted reliability ratings. The Highlander offers excellent resale value. Shoppers should test drive both to see which vehicle suits their needs and preferences. Either SUV makes an excellent choice.



Over the years, the Pathfinder has evolved to focus more on refined on-road handling, comfort, and interior amenities rather than hardcore off-road performance. It still offers decent light-duty capability thanks to an available advanced all-wheel drive system. But most owners find it best suited to suburban family hauling or highway road trips, rather than technical trails. For more challenging Canadian adventures, vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner are better choices.

Nissan gave the Pathfinder some nice upgrades for the 2023 model year. All trims now come standard with the previously optional turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. This provides similar power to the old V6 with improved fuel efficiency. Higher Platinum and Rock Creek models still offer a V6 option. Updated tech features include standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus an excellent available 10.8-inch head-up display. The new Rock Creek Edition also joins the lineup with unique styling and amenities.

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is affordably priced given its size, comfort, and number of standard features. The entry-level S FWD model starts at $46,898 MSRP. Stepping up to the SV adds more amenities from $49,498, while the luxurious Platinum tops out around $58,098. Opting for all-wheel drive adds about $3,000 across the board. With 7-8 passenger seating and lots of flexibility, the Pathfinder gives Canadian families excellent value. Several lower-cost competitors compromise more on space or safety equipment.

The Pathfinder offers similar overall passenger and cargo space as the Mazda CX-9 and Kia Telluride while costing several thousand dollars less. It isn’t quite as luxurious or premium feeling inside as those alternatives, but materials are still competitive. Performance from its turbo four-cylinder or V6 engines keeps up well, though the CX-9 and Telluride offer slightly better fuel economy. The Pathfinder also has higher reliability ratings and more standard safety tech. For shoppers balancing value and quality, the 2023 Pathfinder remains very appealing versus rivals.

A few of the Pathfinder’s best attributes for family buyers include its versatile seating for up to 8 passengers, impressive 45+ cubic feet of cargo space with rear seats folded, intuitive infotainment with available rear seat entertainment system, accessible LATCH anchors for safely installing child seats, available tri-zone automatic climate control to keep all passengers comfortable, and high-end amenities like heated seats and steering wheel, panoramic moonroof, and intelligent around view monitor. The Pathfinder does an excellent job keeping Canadian families happy.

Properly equipped, the 2023 Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds. This gives owners the flexibility to pull medium-duty trailers, boats, ATVs and more to enable their adventures. Maximum payload capacity ranges from 1,385 to 1,626 pounds depending on configuration. This allows for plenty of passengers and cargo carry capability. The Pathfinder offers competitive towing and hauling capacities for its class.

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