Of late, the Nissan Pathfinder has proved something of an enigma for the Japanese manufacturer. This model, released here in 2014, has not found as much favour amongst families as they expected, so a little bit of jouging was needed to pique the interest.
Nissan has tweaked the ride and design, adjusted a few of the functions and made it even quieter than before. We took the range-topping Ti home with us for the week.
This Pathfinder now sports Nissan’s V Motion grille and new headlights and a few more curves to add appeal. There is no getting away from the fact that this is a big car with generous proportions – it only just fit in our garage – but step inside and ensconce yourself in the driver’s seat and it is all rather manageable after all.
There is oodles of room, of course, which is refreshing, even for adults in the third row, albeit for shorter journeys. There is tri-zone climate control so the driver, front passenger and middle row can adjust their settings while those in the cheap seats get adjustable vents.
The seats themselves are on the comfortable side particularly for the front seat occupants who get theirs heated and cooled. The second row could do with a tad more shape though which would prevent passengers from sliding around so much if the SUV is flung into tight corners.
The 60/40 split middle row easily tilts up and flips back to allow entry into the third row when needed and it can slide fore and aft too to adjust leg room. There are three top tethers and two ISOFIX points in the middle row and one tether in the third for car seats.
The centre console feels a touch busy with a fair few buttons and dials while the 8.0-inch infotainment screen is just a little lost in the expansive dash.
Families will love the nod to storage and probably a world-record 10 cupholders. The boot is still somewhat reasonable (453-litres) with all seven seats in use and is a very accommodating 1354-litres with the third row stowed growing to a humungous 2260-litres with the middle row dropped flat. A 40/20/40 middle row configuration would be more useful in transporting longer items and passengers though.
The top-of-the-range Ti is very well equipped with all the modern conveniences we now expect from new cars including surround-view cameras, keyless entry and start, LED daytime running lights and headlights, auto headlights and wipers, reverse camera with front and rear parking sensors, power tailgate with motion activation, a double sunroof and a really comprehensive safety package.
A 13-speaker sound system, Bluetooth with voice activation, sat nav with pinch to zoom and MP3 and iPod compatibility are a few of the highlights of the Pathfinder’s infotainment system. The screen could be a bit bigger and the graphics a bit sharper but it does the job. No Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and no digital radio either.
My girls loved the DVD screens mounted on the back of the front seats. It is operated from the front though which is a schlep but the Bluetooth headphones mean you don’t have to listen to the Looney Tunes DVD for the millionth time.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The same 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine can be found across the Pathfinder range, except the hybrid of course. It is quiet and strong and good for 202kW of power and 340Nm of torque. It is paired with a Continuously Variable Transmission which may not feel as good as a normal auto transmission but is certainly one of the better CVTs around.
A rotary dial on our AWD Ti gave the option of 2WD, Auto or Diff Lock for tricky bits under 40km/h. There is also Hill Descent Control should you need it.
The Pathfinder has a five star ANCAP rating and boasts an impressive range of active and passive features. In addition to six airbags, stability and traction control and ABS brakes, you also get blind-spot monitoring, auto emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert and forward collision warning.
Nissan has given the Pathfinder a stiffer suspension and made a few more tweaks to deliver a much better all-round performance. There is almost none of the leaning into corners and wallowing that was so apparent in the last iteration. You can feel the odd bump more than before thanks to the firmer ride but that is a small price to pay and, at touring speed, comfort is obvious.
The V6 engine proves more than competent; it is quiet and dignified and goes about its business with ease. The Pathfinder is a sizeable beast yet the engine doesn’t strain to move it even when pushed. The CVT responds well enough with only the occasional high-rev moment when you demand quick action but that is easy enough to get used to I suppose.
The Pathfinder of old was known for its off-road prowess. Models of new are less adept. This one, for example, would do better on gravel roads and could get through a slightly muddy track but expecting more would leave you disappointed.
Nissan’s claimed fuel usage is at 10.1L/100km for this AWD variety on a combined cycle. Our week delivered closer to the13.4L mark which considering its bulk is on par. Oh for a diesel though.
Warranty is three years or 100,000km with free roadside assist for that time. Service intervals are 12 months or 10,000km. Nissan’s Service Certainty program presents the cost of services up to 120,000km but read the fine print.
Given its long list of favourable qualities it is interesting that the Pathfinder has not been the seven-seater wonder Nissan had expected it to be. This round of tweaks certainly adds to the appeal and hopefully it will be enough to grab the attention. For families looking for a solid seven-seater SUV, the Pathfinder is a very viable option.
AT A GLANCE
Nissan Pathfinder Ti pricing and specifications:
Price: from $62,190 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 3.5-litre six-cylinder petrol
Output: 202kW at 6400rpm and 340Nm at 4800rpm
Transmission: CVT auto, AWD
Fuel: 10.1L/100km (ADR Combined)
Warranty: Three years, 100,000 kilometres
Safety Rating: Five Star ANCAP
What we liked:
Strong V6 engine
Comprehensive safety package
What we didn’t:
No stop-start technology
No diesel option
Ageing infotainment system