The Nissan Pathfinder isn't quite all new for 2017, despite the freshened looks. Nissan's midsize family frigate has received a mid-cycle refresh to sharpen its looks while going a little easier on the chrome. The Pathfinder is still powered by a 3.5-liter V6 coupled with an Xtronic continuously variable transmission designed to do a good impression of an automatic while keeping the noise down. The latest generation of Xtronic debuted in the Maxima a couple years ago, and as far as CVTs go this one's pretty good.

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The 2017 update hasn't changed basic Pathfinder formula: This is still a big three-row SUV whose handling is optimized to tune out the outside world and the discomforts of busted road infrastructure. For the Pathfinder this means generous helpings of body roll, a slightly floaty suspension that reminds me of Lincolns of the 1990s (but in a good way), and a love for tackling interstates on cruise control. Visibility is good enough on the open road, but in parking lots the generous overhangs are tolerable only because there are parking cameras fore and aft.

Interior design and quality is still where Nissan is ahead of ahead of the pack. The center stack is still a sea of buttons, but thankfully most of them are right where you want them. The busy layout features no fewer than five rotary dials and even a cluster of buttons inside what looks like yet another circular rotary dial, but after spending a couple days it's easy to get used to. The infotainment screen itself is almost a secondary feature in this Mission Control Center, but overall it's a straightforward system that does not require too much menu-spelunking -- it's designed to be quickly learned because there is a big plastic button for just about everything.

The Nissan Pathfinder has been significantly updated, if not redesigned completely, for the 2017 model year, but this mid-cycle refresh has managed to change the looks of the popular full-size ...

With a starting price of $44,460 the Platinum 4WD trim lives high up in the Pathfinder range, it's not an unreasonable price for a three-row SUV with a very premium interior and an engine/transmission combo that will please most buyers. The model I drove was optioned up to $44,685, and it had pretty much everything that parents looking for a big but not '90s-big family SUV will want, save for distractor screens fitted into the front headrests. Overall, the Pathfinder makes a very good case for sticking with Nissan and not being tempted by Infiniti models from next door, which will serve up much of the same but at a higher price.

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