Should You Take the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder Off Road?

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has the chops for dirt roads, but it’s not quite ready to hit the open trail.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The
Nissan Pathfinder
was newly redesigned for the 2022 model year with a rugged aesthetic that makes it look like it belongs on the backroad trails—but with a ground clearance of just 7.1 inches, it’s not a true trail warrior.
Most automakers offer at least one sport utility vehicle that can drive both on and off the beaten path—but how do you know which ones should stick to dirt roads and gravel, and which ones can really handle rough country terrain?
If you’re considering a Nissan Pathfinder for your outdoor adventures, check out this helpful guide from
super app
and
car insurance
expert
Jerry
. We’ll give you a rundown on off-road essentials like ground clearance, tires, and drivetrain—and go over how the Pathfinder compares to the competition.
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Can the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder go off-road?

Yes, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder can go off-road—but it should only be driven on relatively level, well-maintained trails. For drivers who need a mid-size crossover that can handle the occasional dirt road, the Pathfinder is a good pick.
With a starting price of $35,865, the Pathfinder comes standard with a 284-horsepower V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The optional four-wheel drive and a towing capacity of up to 6,000 pounds add to its off-road capability. 
Here's a closer look at the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder and some key off-roading specs.

Ground clearance

Ground clearance measures the distance between the lowest part of a car’s chassis and the ground. It’s one of the most important factors to consider before driving a vehicle off-road. With just 7.1 inches of ground clearance, the Nissan Pathfinder sits a little too low to handle intense trails—experts recommend a ground clearance that falls between 8.8 and 10.8 inches for the best off-roading experience.
Compared to the 2022
Jeep Wrangler
and its 9.7 inches of minimum ground clearance, the Nissan Pathfinder falls short of the competition. Keep in mind that the more space there is between the underside of your car and the ground, the easier it is to roll over uneven terrain without damaging your vehicle.

Torque

Another important factor to consider before taking your car off-road is its torque. When it comes to rolling over boulders or driving up a steep hill, turning power is more important than speed—so vehicles that can achieve high torqueat low rpm perform better on uneven terrain.   
The Pathfinder’s 3.5-liter V6 engine makes a maximum torque of 259 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm. That’s not a ton of power on its own, but Nissan’s optional intelligent four-wheel drive system uses the car’s brakes to redistribute torque to the wheels that need it. This means that the Pathfinder handles well in situations where traction is difficult to maintain, like loose gravel, sand, or snow.

Tires

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder comes with a standard set of all-season tires. These tires are great for daily driving in areas that experience a variety of weather conditions, but they aren’t a good choice for off-roading. Tough terrain conditions require a set of
all-terrain tires
, or A/T tires, which offer better cornering and more traction.
This Nissan Pathfinder’s stock tires can probably handle driving over grass or on a well-maintained dirt road, but if you’re looking to hit the trails, a set of aftermarket all-terrain tires with a deeper tread depth can help prevent you from getting stuck while driving through mud or sand.

Drivetrain

The Nissan Pathfinder’s standard front-wheel drive isn’t powerful enough for off-roading—but upgrading to the optionalfour-wheel drive system gives you access to seven drive modes, including some off-road-focused modes like sand, and mud/rut.
Four-wheel drive is available on all four trims.
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Angles

If you’re looking to drive over uneven or rocky terrain, knowing your car’s approach angle and departure angle will help prevent you from getting stuck or damaging your vehicle’s frame. If those terms are new to you, here’s what they mean:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder has approach and departure angles of 16.1 and 15.6 degrees, respectively. This means that it can maneuver over slightly uneven terrain—but trying to roll over boulders will damage your car.

Off-road rating: In a pinch

If you’re trying to figure out which off-road vehicle is right for you,
Jerry's
very-technical DIRT rating system can help you decide. Here’s how it breaks down: 
Rating
Meaning
Description
D
Don’t try it
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
I
In a pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
R
Rough and ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
T
Trail boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
We’re giving the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder an I rating. While its rugged appearance certainly gives it the look of a great off-road vehicle, its unimpressive ground clearance, underperforming tires, and low approach and departure angles mean that it’s really only suitable for very light off-roading
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Nissan Pathfinder is a bad choice—it just depends on the type of off-roading you want to do! It can be a fantastic option for car buyers looking for a vehicle that’s primarily a daily driver, but that can still handle the occasional dirt road or grass lot.

The best off-road alternatives to the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder

For drivers looking for an affordable midsize crossover that can handle weekend excursions to the campground, the Nissan Pathfinder can be a great pick. But if you want a vehicle that offers better performance off the beaten path, here are some alternatives:
Model
Starting price
Description
$32,790
Not only was the 2022 Kia Telluride rated Best Three-Row SUV by Edmunds, it also offers more ground clearance than the Pathfinder.
$32,525
With 7.9 inches of ground clearance and approach and departure angles of 18.5 and 21.2 degrees, the Hyundai Palisade outperforms the Pathfinder on uneven ground.
$39,810
Car buyers that opt for the Honda Pilot’s TrailSport trim get a lifted suspension and improved tires for better off-road capability.
MORE:Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Off-road vehicles are great for weekend excursions to the mountains, but they come with a trade-off—they’re often expensive to insure! Even if you have a true trail warrior with top-of-the-line specs and safety modifications, off-roading means you’re more likely to damage your car—and more likely to file a claim with your insurance company.
But before you resign yourself to an expensive policy, download the
Jerry
app to find the cheapest rate for your
car insurance
. Thanks to Jerry’s comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, you can choose the coverage that fits your budget.
By shopping with Jerry, you could save an average of over $800 a year on your car insurance. That’s a serious chunk of change that you can put toward off-road mods like a skid plate or lift kit. 
“This was and is great service!
Jerry
saved me $400 on my renewal. I was super shocked!” —Jackson M.
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