More power, chunkier styling, and off-road suspension and tires make this a fairly serious off-roader.
Revealed in February last year, the latest Nissan Pathfinder is a drastic departure for the Japanese brand. Critics often denounced the previous model for straying from its adventurous, off-roader roots; something addressed by Nissan as it hopes to inject some pizazz into its lineup.
As such, the already handsome SUV has now gained a more off-road focused, rugged-looking derivative called the Rock Creek. It certainly looks the part, with a burly demeanor courtesy of the 18-inch beadlock-style wheels wrapped in chunky all-terrain rubber. A tubular roof rack hints at adventure and will come in handy, thanks to the 220 lbs load capacity.
The Pathfinder Rock Creek gains exclusive front-end styling, with a dark V-motion grille and mesh insert, along with LED fog lamps. Those who can't spot the obvious changes will be clued in by the Rock Creek badging, but we doubt there will be many - it's rather distinctive. Six monotone and four two-tone paint finishes will be offered.
The Rock Creek isn't just about aesthetics, though. "The 2022 Pathfinder was all about a 'return to rugged,' and the Pathfinder Rock Creek takes that spirit even further," said Nissan's Michael Colleran. As such, off-road suspension with a 5/8-inch lift gives the newcomer increased off-road ability.
Those with a taste for adventure will be pleased to know the Rock Creek receives, as standard, a tow hitch receiver and harness. It is rated to tow up to 6,000 lbs; no mean feat for a midsize SUV. Unlike its road-biased sibling, the rugged Pathfinder Rock Creek will be made available with four-wheel drive only.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine has also been to the gym, offering up a more muscular 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. These represent increases of 11 hp and 14 lb-ft, afforded by revised fuel mapping.
Climb aboard and you'll be greeted by an exclusive upholstery finish. The leatherette/fabric seats team well with the adventure theme and boast Rock Creek embroidery. Liberal use of orange detailing injects some fun and color into the cabin, with contrast stitching on the steering wheel, instrument panel, and seats.
The center console and door panels haven't escaped the citrus treatment, while the front armrest receives the Rock Creek badging, in an equally vivid orange finish. Second-row occupants will revel in the standard captain's chairs, while drivers will appreciate Nissan's Intelligent Around View Monitor with Off-Road Mode, fitted as standard.
The public debut is set to take place at the 2022 New York Auto Show and will go on sale in the spring of this year as a MY23 trim. Based on the current model's impressive sales figures, we're guessing the rugged, more powerful Rock Creek will only bolster appeal. Pricing is yet to be announced.