Spring may be just around the corner, but it’s still solidly ski season on both the East and West Coasts. It’s there, in the snow, where the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder shines brighter than all its accolades throughout the last year would make one believe.
Ideally, journeys to and from the slopes should be fun but not eventful, like the skiing itself. Travel to Vermont and you’ll see roads once dominated by Volvos packed with Subarus. The brand’s standard all-wheel drive in its SUVs, wagon and sedan, as well as reasonable price point and easy ingress/egress make Subies an attractive proposition.
There’s plenty of SUVs that are available with four- or all-wheel drive these days. Few of their makers are keen on telling journalists to give the equipment to a true test by driving into the heart of Ski The East territory with below zero temperatures and feet of snow predicted.
Nissan did just that, arranging for a test of the recently redesigned Pathfinder Platinum 4WD that stretched the model’s capabilities. It sits above the two-row Rogue in Nissan’s lineup, and below the larger, full-size Armada.
Arriving in the very northernmost area of Vermont started with a flight to Boston, then picking up the SUV, loading it with a family’s worth of suitcases and gear, and hitting the road for the four-hour drive.
Four hours is enough time to get to know whether if not you hate a car’s lane centering, lane departing warning, and crash mitigation software. Even when caked with layers of road salt, which happens in very short order when stuck behind a plow for miles as a blizzard begins to blow in, the technology worked as expected.
As darkness settled in, the roadway has widely and properly illuminated by the Pathfinder’s headlights and automatic high beams.
The snow rolled in at the rate of nearly an inch per hour for hours on end, the Pathfinder held strong tight to the road, even without Snow mode engaged. The feat would be repeated at lower speeds in the days following the initial storm with a long, winding drive up untracked, snow-covered roads near the Canadian border.
Having confidence in the car was as much about the mechanics as the tires. Nissan hadn’t equipped the SUV specially for the snowy journey. Instead, it was running on the Hankook Dynapro2 all-season tires straight from the factory.
The Nissan is helped by easy ingress and egress, much like the Subarus that are so popular in this neck of the woods. It doors open wide and despite being a three-row SUV, getting in and out requires no lifting, something that folks with mobility issues or those who are just plum worn out after a day on the slopes can appreciate.
While the journey was smooth and the seats were spectacularly comfortable thanks to Nissan’s Zero Gravity technology, the Pathfinder isn’t without its pain points, which shine a bit brighter in cold weather.
The issues aren’t just a one-off. Other 2022 Pathfinder models driven other climates have had the same issues.
The SUV’s climate control is wildly out of spec with the reality of the temperature of the cabin. This isn’t an anomaly of the auto world’s automatic climate control arena, but the Pathfinder had trouble maintaining the requested 68-degree cabin temperature, with users instead having the turn the temperature up to 72 to achieve the proper sense of warmth, even with winter jackets on.
The front seat heaters in the Pathfinder just aren’t as good as in other models. While they toast fine (not great) initially, a hotter high would be preferred, especially in extremely cold environments, the heat backs off quickly.
To continue with the desired high level of warmth, a reset of sorts is required. This causes the user to have to turn off the heater for an extended period of time, then turn it back on, which defeats the purpose.
This isn’t unique. Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and other automakers have similar functions that preform about the same, except their hot is hotter and their recovery time bumping back up to high is shorter.
All the road salt gathered while putting about 1,000 miles on the Pathfinder led to the perfect opportunity to explore a car wash. Pulling up and putting the car in neutral was a bit of a task as the Nissan doesn’t have a traditional shifter and how to move the car into neutral isn’t intuitive.
“Oh, you have the new Nissan neutral,” the teenage attendant said with an exasperated look on his face before explaining the process for activation so the owner’s manual didn’t have to be pulled out.
Though not ideal, the fact that those three pain points are the only things that stood out during a 10-day, 1,000-mile excursion in the car is quite extraordinary, speaking to how good the Pathfinder truly is.
With nearly every option box checked, the Pathfinder Platinum 4WD comes in right around $50,000, a price that seems appropriate. The confidence of driving your family in a supremely capable and comfortable vehicle, that is also stylish, is priceless.
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