2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek: Grandpa Dressed for Hunting

Strong points
  • Lowest entry price in its class
  • Powerful and highly efficient V6
  • Almost unbeatable towing capacity
  • Rock Creek Edition adds much needed flair
Weak points
  • Oldest member in its class
  • Infotainment system in need of a major upgrade
  • Limited cargo room
  • Uninspiring drive
Full report

The Nissan Pathfinder is no longer the staple it used to be. The current generation, launched for 2013, is seven years old, which is an eternity by today’s standards. Yet, sales for the first half of 2019 are strong enough to put it right in the middle (6th place out of 12) of the three-row midsize SUV segment.

Nissan gave the model a facelift for 2017 and subsequently introduced a couple of special versions to maintain consumer interest. After the 2018 Midnight Edition, here comes the 2019 Pathfinder Rock Creek.

Candy for the Eyes Only

While the big Nissan SUV is known for its superior off-road prowess and the name of the new edition evokes adventure and the great outdoors, the company missed a great opportunity to stand out for real.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

You see, all of the Rock Creek content is purely cosmetic. It starts with rugged-looking 18-inch wheels and moulded fender flares, all of which sport a black finish. Same thing for the front grille, lower bumpers, door handles, mirror caps, roof rails and various badges around the vehicle. Four body colours are available including a brand new Midnight Pine that’s unique to the Pathfinder Rock Creek (not our first pick).

Bonus points for the modern-looking LED headlights and the dual-panel panoramic sunroof that brings plenty of light inside.

Mixed Feelings in the Cabin

Speaking of which, the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder shows definite signs of age. The dashboard and steering wheel designs lack style and youthful appeal, material selection is average at best and the numerous buttons low on the centre stack don’t make for user-friendly and distraction-free operation.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Furthermore, the infotainment system looks and feels obsolete when compared with rivals. The menus and graphics are in need of a major refresh, while the image from the rear-view camera is far from crisp. Plus, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still nowhere to be found.

On a positive note, the Rock Creek edition adds stylish two-tone seats with embroidered logos, orange contrast stitching in many areas, exclusive metallic trim pieces, as well as rubber floor mats that will prove useful in any season. The various power sources and ports, 16 cup holders, available 13-speaker Bose stereo and EZ Flex seating system that allows easy access to the third row and maximizes interior versatility are much appreciated, too.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

Incidentally, while there’s a good amount of storage in the centre console and glove box, total cargo capacity is just 2,260 litres, making the Pathfinder one of the least generous SUVs in its class when it comes to hauling your gear.

Soft and Frugal Workhorse

As previously mentioned, there are no mechanical changes to the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek. The 3.5-litre V6 delivers decent power (284 hp) and does a fairly commendable job in most situations, though acceleration could be better.

This engine has two obvious strengths. One is a combined fuel consumption rating of 10.7 L/100 km, low enough to rival four-cylinders thanks to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. The other is a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds, which is only bested by the Dodge Durango. Owners with large camping trailers will be happy, especially with the trailer hitch and seven-pin harness included as standard equipment on the Rock Creek, but while we’re at it, why didn’t Nissan add a built-in trailer brake controller, too?

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

As far as the drive goes, visibility and noise insulation are adequate, there are several advanced safety systems on offer and the soft suspension provides a smooth ride, though with significant body roll in sharp corners. The heavy steering at low speeds is also a bit annoying.

A Cheap Price isn’t Enough…

Starting at just $33,298 (plus freight and delivery charges), the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder is cheaper than all of its competitors. It’s an honest seven-passenger SUV with smooth moves, great fuel economy and all the basic amenities a family would want. The Rock Creek edition (priced from $41,698) may not improve performance or capability, but it certainly enhances the model’s appeal.

On the other hand, the Pathfinder also happens to be the oldest member in its class by far and easily surpassed in many regards. Nissan is no doubt cursing the arrival of hot new players (Volkswagen Atlas, Subaru Ascent, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade) and the reinvention of some marquee names (Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander). Let’s not forget the Honda Pilot, chosen as The Car Guide’s Best Buy even though it dates back to 2016.

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