Like the Nissan Patrol, many big four-wheel drive wagons and utes are all torque, boasting how much they can pull – up to three-and-a-half tonnes in some cases – then there’s the Nissan Pathfinder.

Nissan’s other large off-roader cares more for who’s inside the vehicle than for what’s out the back, although it’s no slouch on the towing table, hauling up to 2700 kg with a braked trailer.

Offered in Nissan’s traditional grades, ST, ST-L and Ti, each in either two- or four-wheel-drive, Pathfinder is powered by a V6 petrol engine coupled with the Next Generation X-tronic continuously variable transmission.

Mated with this motor is Nissan’s All Mode 4×4-i system with electronic switch between three modes – 2WD, auto and Lock – there’s something to suit most conditions.

The test vehicle was a Ti 4WD topping the price list at $64,890, plus on-roads.

The key to the new Pathfinder’s character can be found in the fact that it is built in Tennessee in the United States with its main aim to woo American buyers. At more than five metres long it is big and bold. Nissan boasts about its  improved aerodynamic design, putting some of it down to a roof-mounted rear spoiler.

The cabin interior at once puts out a statement this is no farm implement, the Ti seating wrapped in quality leather, the front carrying a heating and cooling facility. A front sunroof features a manual sunshade, the rear panoramic glass roof sports a power sunshade.

Also, a class-leading convenience is an electric opening and closing tailgate operated through the key fob.

The Pathfinder is up there with segment leaders, offering Nissan’s Advanced Driver Assist Display directly in front of the driver as well as Around View Monitor and standard satellite navigation presented on an 8-inch colour screen situated in the central dashboard.

Entertainment is taken care of with a 13-speaker Premium Bose audio, 9-gigabyte Music Box and DVD system with dual 7-inch screens fitted in the rear of the front seats. Features are infra-red headphones, wired jack and remote controller.

As it’s aimed at the American market no diesel engine is on the Pathfinder shopping list. The lone power plant is Nissan’s VQ35 V6 petrol engine putting out 190 kW of power and 325 Nm of torque, the latter enough to have the big 4WD wagon hauling 2700 kg behind it.

Nissan’s All Mode 4×4-i System, controlled by a knob conveniently situated on the centre console, gives the option of three modes – 2WD in which drive is directed to the front wheels, for better fuel economy; Auto checks all four wheels to distribute the ideal amount of torque between them; and Lock comes in handy in rough terrain, permanently engaging drive power with a 50:50 torque split between front and rear wheels at speeds below 40km/h.

Six airbags, including front to rear curtains, have helped the Pathfinder win a five-star ANCAP safety rating, while standard active safety features include vehicle dynamic control, traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring.

Rear view camera with guidelines is included in the Around View Monitor system, there are also  reversing sensors.

The new Pathfinder is welcoming with its wide doors and comfortable step up into the cabin. Capable of seating seven adults, the third row is particularly easy to access thanks to a latch-and-glide system on the second row that presents a wide entrance to the rear seats.

As well as under-floor storage in the luggage area, with the two rear rows folded there is a cavernous 2259 litres of cargo space.

On a trip across the Queensland border into enemy territory (New South Wales at ‘Origin’ time) the Pathfinder used a miserly 7.6 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres along the coastal highway, 12 L/100 km in the lanes of laid-back Nimbin and its environs and topped 15 L/100 km through the tight twists and turns of the leafy back roads of the northern rivers.

It was sufficient to switch the All Mode 4×4-i system between fuel-saving 2WD on bitumen and auto when needed on gravel; the third mode, Lock, would have been called on only in much tougher going.

The Pathfinder’s suspension, with independent strut up front and multilink down the back, ensured a smooth road-going ride on and off the bitumen, while braking was firm and competent in the face of the oncoming truck or two.

The speed-sensitive electric power system took positive measures to steer clear of potholes and fallen branches in sections of the backwoods drive.

The Pathfinder Ti 4WD turns out to be a Shrek of an SUV, its muscular exterior belying a soft centre with the ability to carry up to seven grown-ups and kit in relative comfort and safety.

All Pathfinder models include three year/100,000km warranty, 24-Hour roadside assistance program and myNissan capped price servicing.


ST 2WD: $39,990 ($44,100, est. drive away)
ST-L 2WD: $50,290 ($54,977)
Ti 2WD: $60,790 ($66,089)
ST 4WD: $44,290 ($48,596)
ST-L 4WD: $54,290) ($59,148)
Ti 4WD: $64,890 ($70,381)

20in alloy wheels (Ti)
Power tailgate (Ti)
Memory i-Key, driver’s seat, steering wheel, side mirrors (Ti)
Satellite navigation (Ti, ST-L option)
Heated / cooled front seats (Ti)
Premium Bose audio (Ti, ST-L option)
8-inch colour display screen (Ti, ST-L option)
9gb Music Box (Ti, ST-L option)
Dual 7-inch rear screen DVD with infra-red earphones, wired jack and remote control (Ti)
Around View Monitor (Ti, ST-L option)

SPECIFICATIONS (Pathfinder Ti 4WD 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine))
Capacity: 3.98 litre
Configuration: V6, multi-point manifold injection
Bore x Stroke: 96.0 mm x 81.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Maximum Power: 190 kW
Maximum Torque: 325 Nm

Transmission: Xtronic continuously variable transmission. ALL MODE 4×4-i system with electronic 4WD selection

Length: 5008 mm
Width: 1960 mm
Height: 1767.5 mm
Wheelbase: 2900 mm
Track: 1670 mm (front); 1670 mm (rear)
Ground clearance: 165 mm
Approach angle: 14.7 deg
Departure angle: 22.3 deg
Tare weight: 2065 kg
Kerb weight: 1655 kg
Gross weight limit: 2715 kg
Cargo capacity: 2259 litres (second and third row folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 73 litres
Towing capacity: 2700 kg (braked); 750 kg (unbraked)
Turning circle: 11.8 m

Suspension: Independent (front and rear)
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front and rear). ABS anti-lock with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, hill start assist
Steering: Speed sensitive electric power steering
Wheels: 20-inch alloy, space saver spare
Tyres: P235/55 R20

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A

Fuel type: 91 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 10.2 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 240 g / km

Greenhouse Rating: 5.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 5.5 / 10

3 years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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