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2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition Road Test: Keep the mild off-roaders coming

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Version continues a rising tide of flippantly off-roadified crossovers (or, in a single case a minivan). We’ve already examined the likes of the Ford Explorer Timberline (and loved it), the Wilderness variants of the Subaru Outback and Forester (favored these too), Honda Passport TrailSport (meh) and even the Toyota Sienna Woodland (that one had us scratching our heads slightly). Now, forward of its introduction to market, we’ve had the chance to check the Pathfinder Rock Creek.

Nissan isn’t arriving late to the sport, nonetheless. This isn’t the primary time it has given the Rock Creek therapy to the Pathfinder, however with the clear slate of a brand new era, the 2023 mannequin now will get its time to shine. This time round, the Rock Creek recipe appears slightly extra profitable than what was primarily a low-effort look package deal prior to now. The 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek truly will get an off-road tuned suspension. Its slight, 0.6-inch raise helps accommodate the gloss-black, beadlock-looking 18-inch wheels wrapped in 265/60 R18 Toyo Open Nation all-terrain tires. The ensuing 7.7 inches of clearance remains to be a full inch shorter than a inventory Subaru Ascent (and fewer than fairly just a few different crossovers), although a minimum of the tires will present higher traction off pavement and the aesthetic basis for the remainder of the package deal.

The Rock Creek will get a tubular roof rack, which additional helps ruggedize the seems to be whereas offering an additional place to retailer as much as 220 kilos of bags or tools for when you want to disappear into the wilderness for a pair weeks. Up entrance is a fascia unique to this particular version, with a novel grille that includes a mesh insert in gloss black to match the wheels. LED foglights are normal, whereas a typical tow hitch receiver and harness are good to drag as much as 6,000 kilos (an above-average quantity for a three-row crossover). After all, there’s Rock Creek badging on the outside, with gloss-black lettering and an orange mountain emblem, to let different drivers know that this isn’t a run-of-the-mill Pathfinder. All of the black Rock Creek items and orange accents regarded nice towards our tester’s two-tone stable gray and black paint scheme.

Surprisingly, there’s even a slight powertrain enhancement for the Rock Creek. Revised gasoline mapping means the three.5-liter V6 can make a complete of 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, up from the usual 284 hp and 259 lb-ft. Nissan says you need to use premium gasoline to realize these improved numbers, however that the automobile will run simply positive on common gasoline. 4-wheel drive is normal together with the identical drive modes as each different all-wheel-drive Pathfinder — Customary, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow.

Inside, the Rock Creek will get leatherette-trimmed seats with fabric inserts, in addition to orange Rock Creek logos embroidered into the seatbacks. They do an excellent job of mixing assist: the firmer pretend leather-based bolsters good a job round corners whereas the comfortable consolation of the material center portion is good on lengthy drives. Go searching and also you’ll see orange distinction stitching on the seats, sprint, middle console, door panels and steering wheel, plus one other embroidered Rock Creek emblem on the middle console armrest. The second row will get normal captain’s chairs with a detachable middle console. The automotive’s 360-degree parking cameras double as an off-road monitor, robotically projecting the digicam feeds on the 8-inch infotainment display (which is the Pathfinder’s base unit — SL and up get a 9-inch unit with navigation) everytime you shift into Mud/Rut or Sand mode. All this comes at a value of $44,115, together with a $1,295 vacation spot payment. That positions the Rock Creek smack in the course of the Pathfinder lineup, between the all-wheel-drive SV and SL trims. Whereas we don’t notably miss SL options like navigation, a wi-fi charger, wi-fi Apple CarPlay (wired CarPlay and Android Auto are normal throughout the lineup), energy liftgate or site visitors signal recognition, we wouldn’t thoughts having the ability to go for additions like a heated steering wheel or a 120-volt plug. The latter specifically looks like one thing that might be helpful on the type of out of doors adventures this particular model is supposedly supposed for. And definitely some adventurers will miss the chance to get a panoramic sunroof as effectively.

The Rock Creek’s off-road-tuned suspension doesn’t do any hurt when it comes to experience consolation or stability, and soaks up highway imperfections effectively. Neither is there any further squat and dive you would possibly get in a Toyota 4Runner. When the pavement begins to curve, the Rock Creek’s dynamics don’t disintegrate — reasonably, they maintain up surprisingly effectively. The chassis setup that so effectively manages the imperfections on the highway does a positive job of managing physique roll. Your passengers received’t must dig their nails into the armrests toe keep planted of their seats.

What you do get from this off-road setup in movement is a few tire roar. It’s not the form of intrusive cascade of sound you’d get from the Subaru Forester Wilderness, which might provide the feeling of rolling down the freeway in a tin can. It’s extra of a flat hum that gives a way of consolation, letting you already know the knobby tread and tall sidewalls are there that will help you crawl over no matter might come your method when you exit the freeway and switch down a rural again highway.

As for that further energy, effectively, we’ll take Nissan’s phrase for it. A lift of 11 horsepower and 11 pound-feet of torque (and provided that stuffed with premium) doesn’t actually register when it comes to driving really feel, however it however appears ample sufficient to get the automobile’s 4,605 kilos of curb weight shifting with out criticism. As for gasoline economic system, the Rock Creek suffers barely. At 20 miles per gallon metropolis, 23 mpg freeway and 21 mixed, it’s only a midge beneath the SV 4WD’s 21/27/23 mpg and the SL’ 4WD’s 20/25/22 mpg.

Now, if you happen to look intently on the photographs right here, you would possibly discover some funky issues — particularly uneven materials surrounding the embroidery on this tester. Take into accout, it is a pre-production model and such literal and figurative wrinkles are sometimes ironed out within the manufacturing line.

And, sure, whereas this new Rock Creek Version has slightly extra performance than the one from the last-gen Pathfinder, the seems to be would possibly nonetheless be an important a part of this package deal. And this automobile actually delivers in that division. Even when the furthest off-road it will get is the grass car parking zone on the county honest, it nonetheless seems to be ok to attract admiring feedback from fellow fairgoers. You possibly can even inform them it’s extra highly effective than different Pathfinders … simply hope they don’t ask by how a lot.

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