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Nissan Pathfinder Gets a Rugged Update With New Rock Creek Edition

Carrie Kim

It’s been a while since the Nissan Pathfinder has made the news. Launched originally as a rugged body-on-frame SUV back in the late '80s, over the years, it’s undergone quite the transformation. These days, the Pathfinder’s outdoorsy adventurous spirit has now evolved into a much more practical family vibe.

However, now there’s a new Pathfinder in town: the 2019 Rock Creek Edition.

As the current generation of Pathfinder debuted back in 2013, it’s now near the end of a long lifecycle. The Rock Creek Edition is a new appearance package on this older SUV, and it really ups the Pathfinder’s game. Its exterior looks communicate outdoor adventure, while the interior capacity and robust towing capability mean you can bring the whole family — and all the gear — along.


We had the chance to drive the Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition through the remote terrain outside of Missoula, Montana. Upon saddling in, we were pleased to find the cabin had a few subtle updates. Trendy orange accents pop throughout via contrast stitching, and "Rock Creek" is emblazoned on the front seats and floor mats. The Pathfinder has three rows of seating, and the third row is actually spacious enough for an adult-sized passenger. We especially like how access to the third row is easy, thanks to second-row seats that tilt and glide forward, even with a child safety seat installed.


On the outside, the Rock Creek package sports black 18-inch wheels with 255/60R18 all-season tires. Black accents continue the theme with a black mesh grille, black roof rails, black door handles, and black side mirrors. There are also black front and rear fascia accents, black “Rock Creek” badging, and a black license plate finisher to complete the look. A tow hitch and harness is standard with the Rock Creek package — as the Pathfinder leads the segment with a 6,000-lb towing capacity, it’s perfect for towing two-axle trailers.


Although the $995 Rock Creek package is primarily cosmetic, it bundles many popular features into one great value. The package pricing reflects a savings of up to $1,315 compared to buying all those features separately. The Rock Creek package is available on two mid-trim levels of the Pathfinder: the SV and SL. Just above the base S model, the SV Rock Creek Edition costs $35,265. The optional SV Tech Package bumps the price up to $36,245 and adds Nissan Connect with navigation, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel. Stepping up to the SL model costs $38,915. For added luxuries, the optional Premium Package adds a panoramic moonroof and a Bose premium sound system, and costs $41,025.


Some will say that no matter how great the Pathfinder’s cosmetic makeover is, it’s still an old SUV-turned-crossover (and they’d be right). Admittedly, the Pathfinder is quite outdated on the technology front, most notably missing smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But we still find the Pathfinder to be a smart choice for families looking to combine value and capability in this segment. Driving the Pathfinder was almost as pleasurable as the Big Sky Country scenery. We felt confident behind the wheel with the Pathfinder’s even surges of power and its connected-to-the-road feel. We’ve driven some large suvs that felt more boat-like than the ones being towed behind it, but the Pathfinder remains responsive and easy to maneuver. Some may complain about the transmission (there’s a very vocal group out there that is firmly anti-CVT), but we weren’t bothered by it.

For our full expert review of the Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition, click here.