The Nissan Pathfinder Is Ready For The Road Less Travelled

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition

Price: $52,398 CAD

Colour: Baja Storm

The Nissan Pathfinder was a vehicle I grew up with. It was blessed with a reputation as a 4×4 that could go anywhere. The first couple generations were designed with just that purpose in mind. They weren’t sophisticated creatures but they got the job done. Time was not kind to successive generations of the Pathfinder as it got bigger, fatter and far softer. It eventually ended up as a barge for soccer moms to take to their kids to practice in and that was about it. With the 5th generation of the Pathfinder Nissan finally woke up and realized how far the car had strayed from its roots. They did a ground up redesign and actually presented us with a car that looked like it could handle a gravel path without stubbing its toe. Nissan went even further in their attempts to reestablish the credibility of the Pathfinder by launching the “Rock Creek Edition”. Stupid name aside, this is the factory built off-road oriented version and it actually is built to purpose.

Car makers are forever testing themselves in their attempts to see how much stuff they can jam into cars. This combined with safety legislation means cars are more loaded with said stuff than ever before. To my mind an off-road capable vehicle is all about only having what you need. My vision of a Rock Creek Pathfinder doesn’t have heated anything, rough and tumble upholstery, rubber floors with drain points, maximum clearance, and armour to protect the important bits. That’s it. The realities of the auto industry means we will never see a vehicle like this as it goes against all contemporary thought on how you spec out a vehicle. What we get instead is a well-equipped Pathfinder that has some extra bits added to it. Those extra bits are things like an upgrade, off-road oriented suspension upgrade, roof rack and a bash plate or two. It can handle a mild logging road with little issue. You won’t be tackling much more than that and I suppose that might be the point.

The Pathfinder still features the engine that will never die – the 3.5L V6 that’s been around since the times when the Pathfinder was a real off-road car. It delivers the same 284hp and 260 lb/ft of torque. Given the size of the Pathfinder this isn’t enough. It is good for off-roading though as you don’t need a boatload of power when you’re in the bush so a nice mild power band is a good thing. I’m going to assume this is why Nissan kept using this engine and not because they don’t want to go to the expense of designing a new one. 

CVT and Nissan go hand in hand. Nissan has invested heavily in CVTs for years. Mostly this sucks as they have yet to make a good one. Imagine my surprise then that the new Pathfinder also gets a new transmission. The 9-speed automatic is a huge upgrade over the garbage we had before. It’s smooth and strong and gives you confidence that it won’t fail on you when you’re galivanting around the mountains.

The Pathfinder starts around $49,000 CAD and this Rock Creek Edition will run you just over $52,000. That’s not a bad price tag for 7-passenger SUV the size of the Pathfinder. It is a lot of money however for something that is, ostensibly, designed for bush bashing. If they stripped all the accoutrement out of the Pathfinder and really built an off-road monster, they could get this price down to something more reasonable. I’ll stop talking about that, I don’t think anyone is listening. 

It’s great to see the Pathfinder return to its roots with this latest generation. If you like this new version and have a desire for a little fun in the woods, then the Rock Creek Edition will suit you just fine. It’s not an off-road machine but it will handle gravel and a bit of drizzle with confidence. It also handles soccer practice without issue.

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