Thus, the mid-size 4×4 perhaps became the vanguard of the present sports utility vehicle tsunami around the world, which sees an SUV on almost every street corner.
The Pathfinder still plays a leading role, with the MY17 version, at more than five metres long, hopping into bed with the big SUV boys, in 2WD and 4WD versions, with petrol or petrol / electric hybrid powertrains and three specification levels – ST, ST-L and Ti.
What’s more, apart from the entry-level MY17 model, prices are unchanged from the previous Pathfinder. The 3.5-litre V6 ST 2WD comes to market at $41,990, plus on road costs, just $500 more than before. The range tops out at $69,190 for the 2.5-litre 4-cylinder Ti 4WD Hybrid. On test was the former.
The new Pathfinder lets you know in no uncertain terms its position in the large SUV hierarchy with a new, more aggressive bonnet, new front bumper and fog lights.
Also incorporated is the latest Nissan design signature ‘V-Motion’ grille and headlamps with boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights.
The outside rear-view mirrors now include standard integrated turn signals. The vehicle signs off in the rear with changes which include new taillights and a more robust bumper design.
The Pathfinder’s generous expansive exterior translates inside the cabin to flexibility in passenger accommodation and generous storage space. For example, the second row of seats is split 60/40 and the third row 50/50 across the range.
When both rows are folded flat, the Pathfinder offers a massive 2260 litres of cargo space. There are also ten cup holders, six bottle holders, four 12v power outlets and a handy under-floor storage compartment behind the third row of seats as standard.
It seems ironic that a vehicle with a name like ‘Pathfinder’ should be without in-car satellite navigation, as the ST is. Higher grades are blessed with it.
Digital connectivity is offered across the board through a new in-car infotainment system, which centres around an 8-inch colour touch screen with two USB ports. Bluetooth phone / audio streaming and voice control are now standard fittings.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The petrol-only Pathfinders make use of a 3.5-litre V6 engine, while the hybrid variants rely on a supercharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit plus a 15kW electric motor.
The test vehicle was fitted with the improved 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, which now delivers more power (195 kW) and torque (325 Nm) with more than 50 per cent of its componentry new or new-to-Pathfinder. The compression ratio has also been raised to 11.0:1 (from the previous 10.3:1).
The V6 engine’s new Direct Injection Gasoline system provides better wide-open throttle performance, improved fuel economy and lower emissions compared to a non-direct-injection system.
The switch to a mirror-bore cylinder coating brings down engine weight by just over one kilogram and reduces friction between the piston ring and the cylinder wall. The technology eliminates the need for a heavy cast iron cylinder liner.
All 2017 Pathfinder models are equipped with Nissan’s third-generation Xtronic continuously variable transmission.
Six airbags are fitted as standard equipment to all model grades, as is a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, helping the Pathfinder to be awarded the top five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program safety rating in 2013.
Primarily aimed at the US and Middle East markets, the Pathfinder on test, in American terms, recorded 8 kilometres per litre in the urban / highway cycle in the city and 15 kilometres per litre on the motorway, which roughly translated is a respectable 12.5 and 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres respectively.
Unlike some CVTs, the Xtronic transmission includes D-Step Logic Control, which simulates shifts in a stepped gearbox, giving a more natural feeling to the driving experience.
With its more-than five-metre length, the vehicle can be a bit of a handful but a more powerful engine, firmer suspension and quicker steering response overcome potential problems on the bitumen.
However, Pathfinder people need to pick their parking spots. At almost two metres wide the super-SUV may slot into a spot all right, but passengers could remain prisoners because there’s no space to open the doors.
Not that passengers would find sitting in the 2017 Pathfinder a chore. The vehicle retains the EZ flex seating system, with the versatile second row seats offering recline, headrest adjust and slide that can offer additional leg room to third row seating occupants.
The second row also includes Isofix child restraint anchorage with technology that allows tilt and slide of the right-side of the second row with an Isofix-compatible child seat in place so there’s still access to the third row. The third row seating also includes recline adjustment and now comes with a rear tether point for child restraint.
The new Pathfinder well and truly ’Trumps’ its antecedents. It is bigger, beguilingly belligerent and needs steady hands on it to stop it getting into tight spots. It doesn’t get my vote, but like ‘the Donald’, will have its followers to give it the tick of approval.
AT A GLANCE
Nissan Pathfinder ST 3.5-litre V6 2WD: $41,990
Nissan Pathfinder ST 3.5-litre V6 4WD: $45,490
Nissan Pathfinder ST 2.5-litre 4cyl hybrid 2WD: $44,490
Nissan Pathfinder ST-L 3.5-litre V6 2WD: $53,390
Nissan Pathfinder ST-L 3.5-litre V6 4WD: $57,690
Nissan Pathfinder ST-L 2.5-litre 4cyl hybrid 4WD: $60,690
Nissan Pathfinder Ti 3.5-litre V6 2WD: $62,190
Nissan Pathfinder Ti 3.5-litre V6 4WD: $66,190
Nissan Pathfinder Ti 2.5-litre 4cyl hybrid 4WD: $69,190
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Pathfinder ST 3.5-litre V6 petrol 2WD five-door SUV)
Capacity: 3.498 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders in ‘V’
Maximum Power: 190 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 325 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.2 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 240 g/km
DRIVELINE: Xtronic continuously variable transmission
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5008 mm
Wheelbase: 2900 mm
Width: 1960 mm
Height: 1768 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1985 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 73 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 km