Pathfinder has been a cornerstone of the Nissan lineup since 1985, designed as a softer, smaller sibling to the heavy duty Patrol.
Now in its fifth generation it has however moved with the times, shedding its humble Navara origins and ladder chassis to become a standalone seven or eight-seat family hauler with “some” off-road ability.
At the same time it channels some of the machismo from the Navara PRO-4X Warrior as the basis for its blunter, bolder grille and elaborate front light assembly.
Released in November last year, with four grades and front and all-wheel drive options, the lineup has been slashed to just the two grades in the past few weeks, due in part Nissan says to wait times and the global component shortage.
What’s it cost?
The range now comprises the Ti priced from $70,030 and Ti-L from $80,277, both with all-wheel drive and both prices before on-road costs.
Ti is an eight-seater while the Ti-L seats seven, replacing the second-row bench seat with two individual captain style chairs.
For a car targeted mainly at family buyers, it’s a strange thing to do — but that’s marketing.
Mechanically, the two versions are identical, except for the size of their wheels. Ti gets 18s, Ti-L rides on larger 20-inch rims.
It’s inside you’ll find the main differences.
There’s leather accented trim, tri-zone climate control air, with second and third row air vents, power-adjust driver’s seat with lumbar control, plus heated front and second-row window seats, tilt and reach adjust steering wheel, built-in rear sun shades and a power operated tailgate.
Other kit includes LED exterior lights, with dusk-sensing headlights and auto high-beam assist, auto dimming rear view mirror, remote engine start and EZ Flex latch-and-glide seating adjustment.
But you have to fork out for the top of the line Ti-L to get rain-sensing wipers which is a bit stingy.
Ti-L adds a power-adjust front passenger seat, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a power sunroof, ventilated front seats, digital rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers and ambient interior lighting.
Both grades get the same 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system underpinned by 13-speaker Bose audio system with dual subwoofers.
It includes Bluetooth, built-in navigation with voice control, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, wireless phone charging, plus two 12 volt power outlets and five USB ports.
Five-star safety starts with nine airbags, including curtain bags spanning all three seating rows and a centre airbag which provides added protection to front seat occupants in side impact crashes.
Autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable Road User, Junction Assist and Backover) as well as a lane support system with lane keep assist (LKA), lane departure warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK) and an advanced speed assistance system (SAS) are standard equipment.
There’s also Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, plus a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors.
Nissan’s advanced Pro-PILOT semi-autonomous driving system also makes its debut on Pathfinder as a standard inclusion.
Child seat anchor points include ISOFIX and tethers for second row window seats, tether for centre seat plus the left third row seat has ISOFIX and tether points.
Pathfinder is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with 5-year roadside assistance and fixed price servicing.
What’s it go like?
Pathfinder is big and bold and eminently practical.
It sits on the same platform as the previous model, but is 38mm longer, 15mm wider, and 13mm higher, with the same 2900mm wheelbase.
The latter is the distance between the front and rear axles and determines the amount of interior space available to legroom and luggage capacity.
Our test vehicle was the Ti all-wheel drive in eight-seat configuration.
Ti retains traditional analogue instrument dials, separated by a 7.0-inch information screen. Pay the 10 grand extra for the Ti-L and you get a full, 12.3-inch configurable digital display.
Both models however get a 10.8-inch colour head-up windscreen display, with navigation instructions, negating the need for the driver to take their eyes off the road.
Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-litre petrol V6. There’s no hybrid and no diesel option.
The V6 develops 202kW of power at 6400 rpm and 340Nm of torque at 4800 revs, with drive to all four wheels though a new nine-speed conventional automatic transmission.
It’s a part time torque on demand system that automatically sends torque to thew rear wheels as required, with a number of all terrain settings — Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, Mud/Rut and Tow.
The system features direct coupling, which allows torque transfer directly on the clutch pack using oil pressure, allowing for confident, immediate take-off in low-traction situations.
Fuel consumption from a 71-litre tank is a claimed 10.5L/100km and it generates 245g/km of CO2.
The latter replaces the previous CVT, continuously variable unit and comes complete with wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
It’s an interesting move given that Nissan was one of the pioneers of CVT, claiming if all car makers switched to this type of transmission it would reduce fuel consumption by 10 per cent across the world.
There has also been something of a drift away from dual/twin clutch transmissions in recent times.
Suspension is Mac strut at the front and independent multi-link rear at the rear, with front and rear stabiliser bars.
New dual-pinion electric power steering provides engaging steering with a sporty feel,
Ti rides on 18-inch 255/60 series Kumho rubber, while the Ti-L sits on larger 20-inch wheels with 255/50 series tyres.
Pathfinder is rated to tow a 2700kg braked load, with a specific Tow setting and trailer-stability program to make towing easier and safer.
Weighing in at 2044kg the V6 has some heavy lifting to do, but it gets going reasonably quickly with enough kick for overtaking.
But we suspect a large part of this performance could be erased with two adults and a couple of kids aboard, not to mention the whole tribe.
Although billed as a 4×4 with a long off-road heritage, we wouldn’t be taking Pathfinder on anything more serious than rough dirt roads, or maybe the beach if you want to give the transmission a workout.
Somewhere along the way it has lost its off-road mojo, along with low range gearing to tackle the rough stuff.
Pathfinder remains sure-footed on the road however and can be pushed reasonably hard with confidence, although it can become a little bouncy with the rise and fall of country roads.
On the motorway it’s almost a case of set and forget, or it would be if you can work out to to engage the active cruise control.
Instead of activating and then setting the speed, one needs to activate, set the speed them push a third blue button which finally engages cruise.
Until you get the sequence it is really annoying. Must be something to do with Pro-PILOT.
This model retains analogue instrument dials with a centre info panel that because it is quite small easily becomes cluttered.
The 9.0-inch touchscreen is smaller than the display suggests, with a large bezel and space devoted to physical buttons.
Satnav, even in 3-d mode, doesn’t provide a particularly easy view to follow.
As a long distance traveller it’s pretty comfortable, quiet and relaxing to drive as we discovered on a run down the coast over the weekend.
Ride and handling are good, and the steering is reasonably sharp, but throttle response can be exuberant at times.
We were getting 10.0L/100km with a best of 6.9L after close to 700km of mixed driving which is surprisingly better than the manufacturer’s claim.
But in the context of real world requirements it is still way too much when a hybrid petrol-electric powertrain could come close to halving this figure.
With petrol priced at around $2.00 per litre, that’s one dollar every 5km or $20 for every 100km travelled.
What we like?
What we don’t like?
Touchscreen has wasted space
Complex cruise controls
Cluttered information screen
Lacks auto wipers
The bottom line?
We like it, but we’d like it more with a hybrid or turbo-diesel under the bonnet.
The family SUV market is a diesel market and has been for a long time, but is in the process of transitioning to a more environmentally friendly hybrid market, Unfortunately, a big thirsty V6 just doesn’t cut it anymore.