2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

In my childhood, I had a different perception of the Nissan Pathfinder than today. By then, the Partfinder meant a solid, body-on-frame vehicle that could tackle even the worst roads in the world. As I immigrated to Canada, this image changed to a more urban vehicle that can transport up to 7 passengers and their cargo.

The current generation (2023), urbanized Nissan Pathfinder (we tested different versions earlier) now offers the Rock Creek edition for more outdoor and wildlife adventure. The appearance suggests that Nissan’s reputable model is closer to its roots.

With the same non-body-on-frame platform set aside, Rock Creek’s styling sufficiently distinguishes this “wild version” from the rest of the Pathfinder lineup. Thanks to extensive use of black accents the vehicle looks as if it had more ground clearance than it has. And specially designed alloy wheels, all-terrain tires and a thick roof rack complement the wild-outdoorsy look. However, the lack of a locked differential makes this Pathfinder less suitable for off-road driving. I asked myself my a driver should endure the noise of all-terrain tires when an important component of off-road capability is missing. A wrong combination of features for a vehicle meant to be driven outside of asphalt regularly. Our tester was painted in a coat of semi-gloss Baja Storm paint, as Nissan calls it and costing $300 as extra.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek: Engine and Powertrain

A 3.5L V6 engine, that’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission delivers 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. Nissan calibrated the Rock Creek version to run on premium gas with a moderate increase to 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. To me personally, this difference is not worth switching to more expensive higher-octane gasoline. A turbo-boosted engine matched to this type of transmission would make more sense. An atmospheric engine with all-terrain tires causes a lagging performance and Nissan should have another look at this at least during the mid-cycle refresh.

Another perceived shortcoming of the 9-speed transmission is the sudden de and recoupling as you move the vehicle forward and backward.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek: Interior

The interior is designed to be less monotonous with touches of orange in the first and second rows, and the Rock Creek insignia embroidered on the front seats and console armrest as well as contrast stitching gives more character to this version.

The Pathfinder, being a three-row SUV does not disappoint when it comes to interior space and can accommodate up to eight passengers. Our tester, the range-topping Platinum trim features second-row captain’s chairs and thus have space for seven people only. Access to the third row is easy thanks to the two easily forward-collapsing second-row captain chairs. The third row is roomy, which is not an obvious case with all midsize SUVs. Big sill steps inside the rear doors facilitate access to roof-mounted cargo.

With a cargo capacity of 470 L, while the third-row seats are upright, the Pathfinder provides ample space even with seven occupants. This number expands to 1,274 L and 2.280 L when the third and second-row seats are folded subsequently. Only the redesigned 2023 Honda Pilot provides a little more space in its TrailSport trim. When it comes to the towing capacity, (2,722 kg or 6,000 lb), the Pathfinder is the best in the entire segment.

When it comes to storage, from a midsize SUV, you expect more than just the cargo space. And the Pathfinder is well-designed and equipped for the storage of small items. The large underfloor cubby in the cargo area, twin cup holders in both back doors, and a pass-through under the centre console that’s big enough to stash a handbag, all make this vehicle more practical and more utilitarian.

When it comes to ergonomy, it is the way it should be. Controlling the climate and infotainment systems is straightforward, with large and plainly labelled buttons and dials front and back. Likewise, the steering wheel controls, as well as the drive mode and gear selectors are ergonomically designed and easy to use.

I found the eight-inch display a bit too small by today’s standards. But, it’s bright and responsive, with crisp graphics and good camera resolution. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

Pathfinder’s boxy design also helps with good visibility. But, the relatively big rear headrests partially block the rear window.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek: Driving Impressions

I drove the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition for three days in and around Toronto and also in the Niagara Region. The Pathfinder no longer has body-on-frame construction, and thus guarantees a more car-like driving experience. But our tester, with its tougher suspension setup and all-terrain tires, intentionally offers a more outdoorsy, off-road feeling. Since I mostly drove on asphalt roads, it looked like a mismatch of “auto and road”.  I wish I would at least have regular summer tires.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek: Conclusion

On the contrary, the electric power steering with its sharp responses “upgraded” our drive to a more comfortable one with a smaller vehicle. With an average consumption of fewer than 12 litres and with 5 people and 8 pieces of luggage, the Pathfinder proved to be a modern SUV with an efficient and powerful engine and lots of space for people and cargo.

For more information, please visit: http://www.nissan.ca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *