The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder has been treated to a rather significant rejuvenation. This includes brawnier exterior styling, interior updates and a more powerful engine.

A raised hood line gives Pathfinder a more substantive appearance. This is enhanced by boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. The grille treatment is also revised. The front bumper houses new fog lights. You’ll also find turn signal repeaters in the mirror housings. The rear hatch and fenders have also been reworked.

Combined, these changes afford the Pathfinder a wider and taller appearance, moving it away from the suburban crossover look and more toward a rough-and-ready, off-road-capable image.

Inside, a new dash display offers more information about secondary systems directly in front of the driver. Meanwhile, an 8-inch touch screen is standard (and, in true Nissan fashion, is backed up by a dial-and-pointer system). Nissan Connect provides Bluetooth and navigation (as an option) with verbal destination entry in addition to automatic collision notification, emergency calls, stolen vehicle location, service scheduling and service alerts.

Three rows of seating accommodate up to seven passengers, although third-row occupants are more comfortable if they are rather diminutive in nature. The second row is designed to tilt and slide forward with child safety seats in place for convenience. Heating and cooling are offered for the front seats as well as for the second row and steering wheel.

The 13-speaker Bose surround audio system dovetails nicely with the optional rear-seat entertainment system’s headrest-mounted 8-inch monitors. Cargo capacity is 16 cubic feet with all seats deployed, 47.8 cubic feet with the third row folded and 79.8 cubic feet with second and third rows folded.

Power comes from a newly revised version of the Nissan
VQ-series V-6. Reworked air-intake and direct-fuel-injection systems offer more efficiency. The cylinders get a mirrored bore coating to minimize friction and extract weight from the engine. Redesigned combustion chambers and pistons elevate the compression ratio from 10.3:1 to 11.0:1. The result is a 24-horsepower increase to 284. Torque is up 19 pound-feet to 259. Even with the power increase, fuel economy remains the same at 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/22 mpg combined for rear-drive models. With all-wheel drive, you can expect a one-mpg drop across the board. Towing capacity is rated at 6,000 pounds.

On the road, throttle response is good, and the continuously variable transmission has been programmed to exhibit “shift points” to eliminate the engine droning typical of CVT-equipped drivetrains. The Pathfinder feels nicely solid on the road and agile in turns and stays remarkably flat when cornering, considering its tall profile.

Off the pavement, the Pathfinder solidly lived up to its name, finessing ruts, dirt and deep pools of finely ground soil with grace. Much of this can be attributed to the new all-wheel-drive system, three driver-selectable modes, a differential lock for the rear end, hill descent control and hill start assist.

All in all, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder is significantly improved. Pricing starts at $29,995.