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I will say this, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is a midsizer with moxie! In a playing field of numerous crossover competitors, the Pathfinder has tried to keep up but has it defined its space, or should it take several seats?

The once pudgy 4x4 has been reworked a smidge and is now more family friendlier than ever. 'Cute in the face and snatched in the waist,' the Pathfinder's outer shell has modern aerodynamic styling that is appealing. A few tweaks to the car-based family hauler's hood, headlamps, front grille, taillights, rear bumper and a few sheet metal sweeping sinuous strokes have definitely given this vehicle more presence in the playing field.

Inside the Pathfinder however, I hardly noticed any changes. I did peep some added trim options and the vehicle's technology has been kicked up a few notches. Overall, the fourth gen vehicle's cabin with its faux wood-tone trim and chrome touches does have a nice enough look. However, I had to deduct a few points from the Pathfinder's interior design because of those still ever present, hard touch plastic surfaces that scream "low rent." The large and functional cabin is also spacious leg and headroom-wise in the first two rows and can accommodate practically all body types. I give the Pathfinder a hearty nod for all-around supportive seating comfort, particularly in the lumbar region that can get real achy especially on longer trips. Since the Pathfinder's second row rear seats slide, recline and fold, I didn't have to be a contortionist to hop into the third row and once there, the seats themselves were very accommodating, offering good thigh support which is really uncommon but the overall space back there came in rather short for this statuesque frame. Sitting in the Pathfinders third row certainly, does not minimize that ever popular claustrophobic fear. Pack rats won't be thrilled with the cargo space offered on the seven-seater which is just average—47.8 cubes behind the second row and 79.8 cubes with both rows of seating folded.



On the tech and safety front, the Pathfinder's standard 8-inch color touchscreen interface with Bluetooth connectivity was a cinch to figure out and has vivid graphics to boot, so I never needed to squint. The Pathfinder does not have Apple Car Play or Android Auto integration but its cuz, the 2017 Maxima does; perhaps these systems will be coming down the pike. The crossover comes standard with traction control, airbags all around, active brake limited slip (ABLS), rearview monitor and tire pressure monitoring system with easy-fill tire alert. Other optional safety must-haves include moving object detection and forward emergency braking (standard on Platinum trim). In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) testing, the 2017 Pathfinder received the top honor of five out of five-star overall safety rating (four for frontal and rollover).

The Pathfinder (Platinum tester) offered a sporty, compliant and pretty family friendly ride quality. I especially gave it high marks for its spirited acceleration, trusty steering, agile handling and solid braking. It's well-rounded and never lumbering driving dynamics made the crossover a breeze to handle and park in those especially tight urban spaces. I also liked the way, I was able to easily maneuver the Pathfinder to jet out of road jams and its unexpected punch, allowed me to keep up with the chase on highways. The Pathfinder comes standard with a 3.5 liter V6 engine that kicks out 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. But is it a lush at the pumps? Not so much, especially when compared to its rival the Chevy Traverse. EPA estimates for the Pathfinder stand at 20/city and 27/highway or 23 combo for FWD; 19 city and 26 highway for AWD or 22 combo. Fuel wise, the Traverse comes in at a shabby 15 city/22 highway and 17 combo for the 3.6 liter V6 AWD.

The more than capable 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is a maneuverable crossover that will appeal to young families. The Japanese automaker definitely honed in on all of the characteristics that make a crossover fun to drive and then applied them to the Pathfinder. But the question still remains...should the Pathfinder take several seats? Well, the answer is a very definitive, "NO WAY!"

Prices start at $30,290. Need more info? www.NissanUSA.com

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