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A close up shows the wheels on a grey 2021 Nissan Pathfinder.

The Best of Both Worlds: Luxury and Performance Meet in the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder

Did you know that Nissan’s origins go back over a century to the early 1900s with the debut of the Datsun, the first mass-produced Japanese vehicle? The Datsun was produced under Nihon Sangyo, which first entered the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1933 as Nissan shortly after Yoshisuke Aikawa was named president of the company. By the late 1950s, Nissan officially made its way to the United States as Datsun. Fast forward six decades, and Nissan is one of the top-selling brands in the country thanks to models like the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder that prove drivers can truly have it all from luxury to performance and beyond.

Today, all eyes are on Nissan as the manufacturer makes the final touches on the 2021 Pathfinder before its official debut. Those final touches include a few changes from the 2020 model with only a modest increase in the starting MSRP from $31,980 on 2020 models to an expected $33,500 on the 2021 model. But what else will the latest Pathfinder offer? Let’s find out.

Rumors, Spy Shots, and More!

Rumors are running wild over the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder since there has been very little released from the manufacturer about the new model. That has only made the anticipation even greater, especially after experts snapped a few spy shots of the 2021 model. Despite the lack of official information from the manufacturer, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the upcoming Pathfinder and we can glean a lot of information off of the little bit we have seen and heard so far. So, what do the spy photos reveal?

The tan and brown interior is shown on a 2021 Nissan Pathfinder


While the 2021 Pathfinder shares a lot of the same features and design as the 2020 model at first glance, there is a huge difference in the interior. Nissan completely overhauled the cabin, at least according to the pictures. The new interior shows a much larger infotainment screen with a strip of lower button controls. These buttons are designed to give drivers even easier access to navigation, music, and more connectivity options like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Powertrain and Transmission

Nissan fans will be thrilled to learn that the 2021 Pathfinder will not feature the CVT or continuously variable transmission. The CVT was notorious for creating problems across the Nissan lineup. Thankfully, Nissan listened to the complaints, identified the problem, and replaced the transmission with a new 9-speed automatic transmission on the 2021 model.

The upgraded transmission is set to deliver better handling and performance than the 2020 Pathfinder. The 2020 model produced 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque with a 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 7 seconds. With the new transmission and the 3.5-liter V6 engine, the 2021 Pathfinder should reach 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. Add in the fact that Nissan also offers an available 2.0-liter turbocharged engine on the high-end trim option, and it’s easy to see why the 2021 model is set to outperform its predecessor!

Thanks to Nissan’s advancement in engine technology, fuel economy is impressive on both the 2020 and 2021 models. The 2020 Pathfinder averaged 20 MPG in the city and over 27 MPG on the highway, but with Nissan’s upgrades to the engine as well as a more efficient combustion process that will burn less fuel, fuel economy for the 2021 model is projected to be even better. Either way, the 19.5-gallon fuel tank is a huge plus and gives the Pathfinder a range of 390 city miles and 525 highway miles between stops to refuel at the gas station. This is especially impressive considering the Pathfinder’s biggest competitor, the Ford Explorer, only has a range of 316 city miles and 446 highway miles.

The moonroof on a 2021 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from a low angle.

Features and Tech

The Pathfinder is marketed as the perfect SUV for families, which is why Nissan pulled out all the stops on the 2021 model. Offering even more luxury and comfort across the board, the 2021 Pathfinder features cleaner lines, an updated interior, and plush seating for up to seven. One of the most notable upgrades to add even more luxury and comfort is the plush leather trim that adds padding to the seats, making them comfortable for every adventure.

The tech is also an attractive feature on the Pathfinder and begins with the newly upgraded and larger infotainment system found in the center dash. The 2020 model came with an 8-inch touchscreen, but the 2021 model is projected to have an even larger screen. This makes it easy for drivers to use the screen—navigation, traffic data, music, messages, and more—without shifting their focus from the road.

Aside from the updated infotainment system, the Pathfinder also features a 13-speaker Bose surround sound system. This delivers one of the richest sounds available and makes listening to music, talk radio, podcasts, and more an enjoyable experience. Of course, drivers and passengers can get the most from the Bose system by integrating their smartphones with the Pathfinder utilizing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto integration. But this is only the start of the available tech since the Pathfinder also offers SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Nissan’s advanced navigation system.


Nissan’s commitment to offering the latest technology goes hand-in-hand with its commitment to delivering the most advanced safety features in the industry. The 2021 model features the same safety suite as the 2020 model. At the heart of this suite is the available Intelligent Around View Monitor that gives drivers a 360-degree birds-eye view of the Pathfinder. This feature makes parking a breeze since drivers can see every angle around the vehicle to avoid potential collisions with other vehicles, curbs, etc.

Automatic Emergency Braking is a standard feature on the Pathfinder and is designed to prevent potential collisions. This technology constantly monitors the environment in front of the Pathfinder to ensure there is enough distance between the SUV and the vehicles ahead. When that distance is breached, the system alerts the driver and automatically pre-charges the brakes to make stopping quicker once the driver engages the brakes.

Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also standard safety features that give drivers greater peace of mind by monitoring the vehicle’s blind spots and rear. This is especially helpful when changing lanes or when backing out of a parking space, garage, etc. Additional safety features are also available and include Intelligent Cruise Control, which takes cruising to a new level by monitoring the flow of traffic ahead of the SUV. When traffic slows, Intelligent Cruise Control adjusts the Pathfinder’s speed and maintains a set distance from the cars ahead.

Get Set, Get Ready, and Go!

Do you like what you see? While the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder was criticized for its plain interior and its unreliable transmission, that is no longer the case. The new 2021 Nissan Pathfinder is not available quite yet, but that doesn’t dampen our excitement, especially considering the new interior and upgraded transmission. These two upgrades will go a long way in delivering the utmost comfort and performance in Nissan’s best-selling SUV.

For now, we are left to wait as Nissan makes the final touches on the 2021 Pathfinder. Will there be any more changes? Until its debut, we will continue to look for spoilers, spy shots, and rumors that might give us even more details about the family-oriented SUV that offers the best of both worlds—luxury and performance!

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