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2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek Is Better Suited to Finding Paths, Rocks, Creeks

With more power, a small suspension lift and better wheels and tires, this rugged Pathfinder isn't just for show.

Now more than ever, automakers are butching up their compact and midsize crossovers, adding a little more go-anywhere cred to otherwise mall-crawling pavement-dwellers. We've seen everything from Subaru's Wilderness models to the Ford Explorer Timberline and Honda Passport TrailSport. Now it's Nissan's turn: Meet the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek.

To be fair, this isn't Nissan's first Rock Creek-badged Pathfinder. But the new SUV -- which debuts Sunday ahead of the New York Auto show -- has a bit more in the way of meaningful upgrades that'll make it better off road.

This actually looks great.

Craig Cole/CNET

For starters, the Rock Creek has an 0.6-inch suspension lift compared to a standard Pathfinder, which isn't that big of a deal, but will surely be helpful when combined with the standard 18-inch beadlock-style wheels and beefy 265/60R18 all-terrain tires. Nissan says the suspension has "unique Rock Creek off-road tuning," though it uses a front strut and rear multilink setup like the base Pathfinder.

The revised roof rack can carry up to 220 pounds.


The Pathfinder's 3.5-liter V6 gets a slight increase in output thanks to "revised fuel mapping," according to Nissan. Basically, if you run the Rock Creek on premium fuel, the engine makes 295 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. But if you fill this SUV with regular ol' 87 octane, you'll have the same 284 hp and 259 lb-ft as the base Pathfinder. All-wheel drive is standard, as is a nine-speed automatic transmission. So equipped, the Pathfinder Rock Creek can tow up to 6,000 pounds.

The Rock Creek treatment wouldn't be complete without some visual upgrades, and we have to say, this SUV looks pretty cool. There's a revised front fascia with a mesh grille insert, as well as a tubular roof rack that can handle loads of up to 220 pounds. Inside, you'll find leatherette/cloth seats with orange contrast stitching, and every Rock Creek comes in a seven-passenger configuration with second-row captain's chairs.

Following its debut in New York this week, the 2023 Pathfinder Rock Creek will hit Nissan dealers this summer. Pricing is still TBD, but expect to see an MSRP in the $40,000 to $45,000 range.