Rock Creek Solid Pathfinder Value

CHATHAM, Mass. – The Nissan Pathfinder has been a popular mid-size sport utility (SUV) since its 1985 introduction, becoming more entrenched in the market as each subsequent generation became more refined and user-friendly.

The fifth generation, launched as a 2022 model in 2021, puts the Nissan product in the heart of the mid-size SUV segment in terms of comfort, refinement and technology, a diverse group which offers American consumers a myriad of vehicles to meet their lifestyle regardless of their needs.

A year into this Pathfinder generation Nissan added the Rock Creek version aimed at those who turn free time into leaving the urban/suburban sprawl to venture into the woods/mountains/wilderness for outdoor adventures. And the Japanese brand has done so in a reasonably priced package which offers solid 2023 value.

Powertrain up to the challenge

The 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek comes with Nissan’s 3.5-liter direct-injected V6 engine producing 295 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque on premium fuel (engine mapping provides the extra oomph above the regular-gas producing 284 hp and 259 lb.-ft. found in other Pathfinder versions).

The engine power, which flows through a nine-speed automatic transmission with steering-column mounted paddle shifters and full-time all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, enables the SUV to pull a trailer of up to 6,000 pounds. Standard in the Rock Creek trim is a trailer hitch and harness enabling easy trailer hook-up and the trailer-sway control eases driving the Pathfinder with a trailer at the rear.

Under my heavy right foot this powertrain returned 22.2 miles per gallon, a bit better than the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 21 mpg overall fuel-economy rating (20 urban, 23 highway), and considering capability, power output, vehicle size and design, a solid number.

A platform equally good on and off the highway

Part of the Rock Creek componentry are ruggedized suspension components as well as an additional 5/8-inch ground clearance beyond the standard Pathfinder’s.

Up front, MacPherson-type struts with twin-tube dual flow path shock absorbers and solid stabilizer bar receive the Rock Creek off-road suspension tuning while the in the rear the independent multi-link setup with twin-tube dual flow path shock absorbers and hollow tube stabilizer bar are so engineered.

The power-assisted four-wheel anti-lock brake (ABS) system features 13.8-inch rotors up front and 13-inch ones in the rear. The wheels encasing these rotors are 18-inch beadlock style mounted with 265/60-R18 all-terrain tires.

Not actually a suspension component, more like one of the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) the Rock Creek’s surround-view monitor with off-road mode assists driver and suspension navigate uneven terrain and obstacles with multiple viewing angles of what lies beneath and around the SUV in these circumstances. I never tried it off road, but the views I found when playing with the system in a parking lot appeared like it will be a boon to off roading for novice and experienced driver alike.

The Rock Creek’s complement of ADAS beyond the camera systems included Nissan ProPILOT Assist, Nissan Safety Shield® 360 with Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Rear Automatic Braking, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, – Intelligent Lane Intervention and Intelligent Cruise Control with Full Speed Range.

Comfortable cabin

Leatherette/cloth seats, with Rock Creek embroidery and orange contrast stitching (as well as on the steering wheel, instrument panel center console and door panels), provide comfortable support along with the feeling they can stand up to the wear and tear of outdoor activities. The driver’s seat has 10-way power adjustment plus power lumbar adjustment.

The second row consists of captain’s chairs with a removable console between them. This row has its own automatic climate-control system, the third element of the tri-zone HVAC system.

Other interior amenities include seven-inch driver cluster display and an infotainment system with eight-inch color LCD touchscreen, WiFi hotspot, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Solid value with off-road assets

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is one of eight Pathfinder models which range in price from $35,200 for a two-wheel-drive Pathfinder s to the AWD Pathfinder Platinum for $50,070. The Rock Creek’s MSRP $42,820 is at the upper end of this range but represents a solid value for anyone looking for off-road, outdoor capabilities in a comfortable, modern, efficient package.

Next week TBR Drives the BMW Z4 sports car.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.