2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Review

Decades ago, Nissan rolled into the compact SUV market with the Pathfinder. Based on the same frame as the automaker’s D21 Hardbody pickup, this new compact SUV went toe-to-toe with the likes of the Chevrolet Blazer/GMC Jimmy, Jeep Cherokee, Ford Bronco II, and the Toyota 4Runner. Originally sold as a two-door model, the 1990 model year introduced the four-door version that would replace the two-door model permanently. The second-generation Pathfinder, introduced in late 1995, would serve as the platform for Infiniti’s first entry into the now-booming SUV market, the 1996 QX4.

Fast-forward to 2024. The fifth-generation Pathfinder is now a midsize SUV built upon the Renault-Nissan D unibody platform, which also is the platform for the Infiniti Q60. Power goes to the front instead of the rear by default, though you can get yours with all-wheel drive. One such example is the off-road oriented Rock Creek Edition, introduced in 2023 for those looking to go beyond the paved path. Nissan recently sent a Rock Creek my way for a week for review.

The Tale of the Tape

The 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is positioned between the front-wheel and all-wheel drive SL models, which, in turn, is just below the top-tier Platinum trim level. Starting MSRP for the Rock Creek is $44,470 with destination charges, $45,305 as-tested. The Gun Metallic paint is one of a few standard paint colors available, with two-tone and single colors like Obsidian Green Pearl/Super Black and Scarlet Ember Tintcoat available for an extra charge. No matter what color is chosen on the outside, though, Charcoal Leatherette is the only interior option available for the Rock Creek.

Speaking of only one choice, there is only one powertrain available for the entire 2024 Nissan Pathfinder range, including the Rock Creek: a 3.5-liter VQ35DD V6 paired with a nine-speed ZF 9HP automatic transmission. While most trims of the the Pathfinder offer either front- or all-wheel drive, the Rock Creek is exclusively all-wheel drive. Total output is 295 horses and 270 lb.-ft. of torque on premium fuel thanks to revised fuel mapping; otherwise, 284 horses and 259 lb.-ft. of torque are available with regular. All of that power meets the road or trail through a set of 18-inch beadlock-style alloys wrapped in Toyo Open Country all-terrain tires, with the off-road tuned suspension and 5/8-inch lift helping to make the most of what’s underneath. The Pathfinder Rock Creek, can also tow up to 6,000 pounds, which is more than enough for a UTV, some trail bikes, and plenty of gear to keep everything up and running in the great outdoors.

Inside the 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek, the driver is greeted by an 8-inch touchscreen and a 7-inch multi-function driver info display unit. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, though no wireless connections are available aside from Bluetooth; there’s also no wireless charging for the Rock Creek. Nissan’s standard six-speaker audio system with AM/FM/Satellite delivers on the tunes and news wherever you go.

The Rock Creek’s interior is trimmed in the aforementioned Charcoal Leatherette with orange stitching, and the Rock Creek logo embroidered into the front seats and the center console armrest. There’s seating for seven — the front seats are heated — though the third row is more suited for children and pets. With both the third row and the two captain’s chairs in the second row folded down, though, cargo space goes from 16.6 cubic feet to a cavernous 80.5 cubic feet, more than enough for a week-long outing in the mountains. And if that’s still not enough, the Rock Creek-exclusive roof rack can hold up to an additional 220 pounds of gear to help cover all the bases.

Living with the 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek

No off-roading would be in the cards for my time with the 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek. Instead, it would be the everyday life this midsize SUV experienced, mainly as my mom’s ride to work, plus a trip on Mother’s Day to see her mom in the nursing home not far from where Mom and I live; no visits to the grocery store to test the cargo capacity, alas. Parking this SUV is made easier with the available 360-degree camera system, though activating it means slowing down to 5 mph before it turns on, which is not great if there’s someone behind you also looking for a parking spot; you’d want such a system to come on sooner rather than later. The mostly in-town excursions netted me a total rating of 17.2 mpg, which is close to the EPA estimate of 20 mpg city. Highway driving nets an average of 23 mpg, giving the 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek a combined EPA estimate of 21 mpg.

2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Verdict

The 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is a handsome version of the fifth-gen midsize SUV, mainly due to all of the ruggedness the Rock Creek provides to this machine. If anything, the 18-inch beadlock-style black alloy wheels make this Pathfinder stand out among the rest of the family. And compared to the competition, like the Kia Telluride Pro-X and Honda Pilot TrailSport, its $45,000 price of admission is a good deal.

While the Rock Creek does have Nissan’s suite of driver-assist tools like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and the aforementioned 360-degree camera, the lack of an OEM navigation unit in the 8-inch touchscreen, combined with its reliance on Apple and Google to provide said functionality, means that you’ll need to bring your own GPS unit in the event you drive out of range of any cell towers.

Other than than, though, the 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is a fine midsize crossover. Nothing too exciting, but perhaps that’s all anyone interested in this version of the Pathfinder needs from it.

Photos: Cameron Aubernon/Aubernon Highway

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