Nissan launches 2022 Pathfinder, 2022 Frontier with new bods, same bones

Nissan on Thursday debuted the redesigned 2022 Pathfinder SUV and 2022 Frontier mid-size pickup truck. The simultaneous launch comes after pandemic-induced delays that caused the Pathfinder to skip the 2021 model year and for Nissan to move the redesigned Frontier from the 2021 to the 2022 model year.

Both aging vehicles were in sore need of upgraded interiors with more modern safety and convenience features, and they benefit from fresh looks that honor their past while driving them into the present. The engines don't change, neither do the suspensions nor the dimensions, but the looks and feature set should draw attention when they arrive at dealerships later this summer. 

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

The three-row crossover SUV sports a new look inspired in part by the small truck-like model that launched for 1987, yet comes with eight seats and all the modern conveniences prized by modern families. Three slots bridge the long flat hood and broad vertical grille for a steep truck-like face, and flexed fenders house 18- or 20-inch wheels. The rear-door pillar takes on a triangle shape that elicits the triangular window of the original model, and two-tone blacked out roof options adhere to Nissan's current "floating roof" design language. Slim LED taillights let Nissan stamp the Pathfinder letters on the liftgate.

Inside, the fifth-generation Pathfinder's dimensions remain roughly the same but it expands to seat eight passengers. Nissan says it can fit three adults in back and four seats of golf clubs behind the seat. Based on the outgoing Pathfinder, we doubt those three adults would last very long if at all. Now with available captain's chairs for the first time, the Pathfinder features a removable second-row console and standard push-button seats that allow for easier access in and out of the third row. Child safety seats can remain in the outboard positions in the standard second-row bench, whereas the last model required them to be removed to get full access. 

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Nissan Pathfinder

Offered in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trims, the 2022 Pathfinder comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, thought a 9.0-inch touchscreen is available. A 7.0-inch digital vehicle info display splits the analog gauges, or the whole dash display can go digital with an available 12.3-inch display. Safety is a priority with standard driver-assist systems such as front and rear automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high beams.

Nissan offers richer options such as semi-aniline leather seats, a Bose 13-speaker sound system, heated second-row seats, wireless smartphone charger, panoramic sunroof, and two grades of its ProPilot Assist limited hands-free driving system. 

Driving should feel relatively familiar for former Pathfinder owners. The 2022 model has the same 284-hp 3.5-liter V-6 rated to tow up to 6,000 pounds, but it optimizes the delivery through a new 9-speed automatic transmission in place of the outgoing CVT that struggled on uphill climbs. It' has front-wheel drive, with an available all-wheel-drive system that features seven selectable drive modes. The system can send up to up to 50% of the 259 lb-ft of torque to the rear axle, then all of that available torque to the one rear wheel with more grip.

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

For more rugged terrain, Nissan fans may want to check out the Frontier mid-size truck across the dealer lot. It only seats five, and not in anywhere close the same amount of comfort as the unibody Nissan Pathfinder, but for 2022 it comes with two Pro-X off-road friendly choices. 

The Pro-X model is essentially a rear-wheel drive version of the four-wheel-drive Pro-4X that comes with Bilstein shocks, 32-inch Hankook all-terrain tires wrapped on 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and other cosmetic upgrades. The Pro-4X is the real off-road deal with a Dana rear axle, electronic locking rear differential, and three skid plates.

Every Frontier gets a new body and new interior that mark the first redesign since the 2005 model. The 310-hp 3.8-liter V-6 that Nissan introduced for the 2020 Frontier carries over, as does the ladder frame and the key dimensions, though the 2022 is longer in the nose. The V-6 pairs to a 9-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive that can still tow the same 6,720 pounds with the extended cab. A part-time four-wheel-drive system is optional, and hill descent control comes standard on 4WD models. New cab mounts promise to reduce noise and vibration in the cab. 

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

2022 Nissan Frontier

The crew cab will be the popular pic, and it comes with upgraded front seats, a 6-way power driver’s seat, a huge center console, more door pocket storage, and storage underneath the rear seats. Every Frontier gets two USB ports, as well as the same 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and 7.0-inch vehicle info display as the Pathfinder.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get the same standard safety features. Forward-collision warnings and rear-door alerts are standard, but automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and Nissan’s suite of other driver-assist features costs extra.

Pricing and fuel economy numbers will be announced closer to the summer 2021 sale date for both Nissan models. 

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