Nissan Pathfinder: Time to clean house


What is it?

Nissan’s Pathfinder has been a staple for the brand for over two decades.

Always a large people moving SUV, in its current iteration it’s a curvy-looking machine and a world away from the heavy, squared off version of a decade ago.

It’s a four-level range, with ST, ST+, ST-L and Ti.

The N-Trek is a purely cosmetic addition and features no mechanical changes.


What’s it cost?

Prices start at $46,840 for the 2WD ST+ N-Trek, $57,140 for the 2WD ST-L N-Trek, $50,340 for the 4WD ST+ N-Trek and $60,640 for the 4WD ST-L N-Trek.

Our test vehicle, 4WD ST-L N-Trek, is listed at $60,436 driveaway by Nissan’s website.

The N-Trek pack adds black styling accents that include black licence plate trim, black door handles and black roof rails.

The 18 inch alloys are painted black, with a two-tone appearance, and wider 255/60 series rubber.

The grille is blacked out and the the chin section of the bumper gets an alloy look.

These additions add an extra $1500 over the price of the standard model.

The body clearly defines the current Nissan design philosophy, with a sinuous curve from front to rear, the distinctive V grille, and a sense of largeness — yet it doesn’t look heavy.

Colour choices are limited for the N-Trek: Ivory Pearl (colour of our review vehicle), Diamond Black, Gun Metallic and Caspian Blue.

Inside, you’ll find a seven-seat setup, with leather trim for the pews.

Heating is available for the front with a two-level setting; ideal for warming up then staying warm.

The audio system does not include DAB, which is odd choice for a grade that is one from the top.

There are no apps either to provide smartphone app functionality, but you do get an “old school” CD player.

What is available however are some odd choices for a non-performance oriented machine.

There’s a G-Force meter, G-cornering reader, fuel-flow meter, and steering angle meter — fantastic if  it’s a GT-R, perhaps not so in a Pathfinder.

The 8.0 inch touchscreen opens up with a driver alert warning that DOES NOT GO AWAY, meaning one could drive for as long as there is fuel in the tank and not see it disappear.

For the driver there is a clean looking monochrome binnacle display.

It’s a useable and clean look unlike the centre stack of the dash. If there was an award for over-populating with buttons — the Pathfinder would win gold, silver, bronze, and possibly even fourth place.

Overall, however, it’s a cabin that’s holding its own, but dating in comparison to the opposition.

The third row seats are of the exceptionally simple to use pull-strap style, with some reasonable legroom at 781mm. That’s thanks to a wheelbase knocking on three metres and an overall length of 5042mm.

Cargo space starts at 453 litres, with the second and third row seats up, maxing out at a very handy 2260 litres.

In terms of safety, there’s plenty to like including Intelligent Cruise Control, six airbags, and Tyre Pressure Monitoring for the 255/60/18 Continental rubber.

Rear park sensors and a reverse camera are standard — but there are no front sensors.


What’s it go like?

V6 is the shape, 202kW and 340Nm are the numbers, and thirst is the result.

With a drive system that allows for 2WD or a self-adjusting/lockable all-wheel drive via a CVT, we saw consistently above 12.0L/100km, with a final figure of 12.3L/100km.

It’s a heavy car in spite of the visuals, with a dry weight of 1981kg, and drag co-efficient of 0.33, which sort of works with and against each other to get that economy. 

Using a CVT also sort of works, but by no means can the Pathfinder be considered rapid from a standing start.

Like most CVTs, a gentle hoof with increasing downwards travel is the best way to get it going.

Maximum torque is available at a typically petrol engine, high-rev point, in this case 4800 rpm, which means it needs a good spin to get the vehicle up and running.

The V6 is quiet when not being pushed, but when it is — there’s a decently rorty growl from the engine itself and a muted version from the exhaust.

On the highway it’s quiet, relaxed, and relatively stress-free with a sub 2000 rpm highway rev point.

Pre-programed shift points are mostly smooth and, when required, it drops back quickly and efficiently for highway acceleration.

In comparison, the steering is overly light and twitchy, and one of the rare setups that continually requires two hands on.

Yes, the law requires that anyway, but most cars have a steering feel that just one hand can control.

Not here, it really is excessively lively and in all driving situations the wheel moves under both hands.

Suspension-wise it’s also okay, with good damping. Body control, however, tends towards floatiness at the top end of travel.


What we like?

  • Room for seven and never feels cramped
  • N-Trek body package looks good on white
  • Odd choice of extra information in the touchscreen is oddly okay


What we don’t like?

  • 110 per cent attention -eeking steering
  • CVT is good but typically not great with a bigger engine
  • Interior is in need of an update — and soon


The bottom line?

N-Trek is a valiant effort.

But age is wearing down the car, it’s thirstier than it probably should be and at $60K no longer represents great value in comparison to more modern, better featured opposition from Japan — and especially South Korea. 


CHECKOUT: Nissan Juke: Hold the Bose

CHECKOUT: Nissan Navara: The magic ingredient


Nissan Pathfinder ST-L N-Trek, priced from $60,436 driveaway
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 6.5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 6/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7/10