Nissan Pathfinder has been on sale in Australia since 1987 and has established a well-earned reputation as a reasonably tough 4WD off-roader. Not quite in the same class as vehicles like its Nissan Patrol sibling or Toyota’s LandCruiser but rugged enough to attract plenty of rural sales.

With the arrival of its fourth-generation model in late 2013 Pathfinder has been caught up in the SUV surge and now not only comes with the option of two- or four-wheel drive but also loses the extra grunt of diesel power.

Now that the switch to SUV has been made the need for a body-on-frame chassis has gone and new Pathfinder has returned to the monocoque construction used in the middle period of the vehicle’s life. Likewise a manual gearbox has been dropped and the previous five- and seven-speed automatics replaced by continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Such has been the significant changes to Pathfinder and its long history as a serious off-roader we wonder if Nissan was ever tempted to adopt a totally new name to attack its very different new market. Perhaps the Australian Pulsar / Tiida experience was still fresh in their minds…

In line with the structural and powertrain changes Pathfinder has now taken on a softer, smoother appearance aimed clearly at urban buyers. The square, boxy look of the previous model has been replaced with a much more fashionable contemporary look with a flowing roofline, new headlights and small rear spoiler.

New Pathfinder is larger in all dimensions including 195 mm extra length which enables all models to now seat seven in a two-three-two format. The third row is relatively easy to access through large side doors although as usual children are the preferred occupants. Nissan quoted boot space with all seats in place at 453 litres, there’s also an underfloor segmented area.

There is just one drivetrain offered, a 3.5-litre 190 kW petrol V6 and CVT. The engine is the well-established unit that we’ve driven in vehicles ranging from the Nissan 350Z sports car to the new Altima sedan. In the Pathfinder peak torque of 325 Nm is reached at 4400 rpm and although that’s well down on the 450 and 550 Nm from the outgoing diesels it will cater for most of its new breed of users.

Not surprisingly towing capacity is also down from the 3500 kg of the previous Ti 550 to an acceptable 2700 kg enhanced with Nissan’s switchable Tow Mode, to assist smooth out acceleration when towing.

While no diesel is planned a supercharged-petrol / electric hybrid model will be added to the range around mid-2014.

Fuel consumption on the combined cycle is rated at 9.9 litres per 100 km with 2WD and 10.2 L/100 km with the extra weight in the 4WD. We recorded in the low to middle elevens during our recent week-long test which comprised an even mix of city and expressway conditions.

New Pathfinder comes in three equipment levels, ST, ST-L and Ti, each with the choice of two or four-wheel drive. The 4WD system can be set between 2WD, 4WD Auto (varies torque distribution between the four wheels) and 4WD (permanent 50:50 split between front and rear wheels for rougher terrain).

Safety equipment in all three variants includes six airbags with front to rear curtain ‘bags; ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution; stability and traction control ; hill hold; Isofix child seat locks (centre row only); reverse parking sensors; rear view camera; and tyre pressure monitoring. A multi-camera Around View park assist system is optional on the ST-L and standard on the Ti models.

All models get Bluetooth phone and audio streaming; USB and Auxiliary sockets; steering wheel mounted control; single CD player; and music server hard drive. The display on the ST and ST-L uses a 7-inch QVGA colour monitor while the Ti gets an 8-inch VGA LCD unit as well as a premium Bose audio system; and satellite navigation.

Around View is available as part of a $2300 Option Pack with the ST-L that also includes the Bose audio andSatNav.

Push-button engine start/stop is standard on all three variants as are tri-zone climate-control air conditioning; leather trimmed steering wheel and gear shift knob; roof rails; and tilt-telescopic steering wheel adjustment.

Pathfinder ST-L adds electronic steering wheel adjustment; heated front seats; front fog lamps; twin sun roofs; and leather-accented door and seat trim. Extras on the Ti include driver seat and side mirror adjustment memory;

The switch from 4WD to SUV has made the fourth-generation Nissan Pathfinder a very different vehicle to its predecessors. As is demanded by its new target buying group it’s much more refined and significantly quieter than before.

It’s a big seller in the United States – indeed it’s built in Tennessee – so the ride may be softer than some Australians like. But if a big, quiet comfortable cruiser is what you want the big Nissan provides it in spades.

Conscious of ground clearance of just 165 mm we treaded carefully along our off-road test route but were quite impressed with how the suspension absorbed the frequent bumps and pot holes.

While some will mourn the demise of yet another serious off-roader, the high proportion of Australians that live in urban areas means that car companies will continue to target these areas. With demand for SUVs, especially those with two-wheel drive, growing dramatically the new Pathfinder now ticks plenty of boxes and is well worth adding to the check list of potential buyers.


ST 2WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon: $39,990 (CVT automatic)
ST-L 2WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon: $50,290 (CVT automatic)
Ti 2WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon: $60,790 (CVT automatic)
ST 4WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon: $44,290 (CVT automatic)
ST-L 4WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon: $54,290 (CVT automatic)
Ti 4WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon: $64,890 (CVT automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for driveaway prices.

FEATURES ABS Brakes: Standard in all models Automatic Transmission: Standard in all models  Cruise Control: Standard in all models Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models Satellite Navigation: Standard in Ti, optional in ST-L, not offered in ST
Bluetooth: Standard in all models Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Pathfinder ST-L 2WD 3.5-litre petrol five-door seven-seat wagon)

Capacity: 3.498 litres
Configuration: V6
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Bore/Stroke: 96.0 x 81.0 mm
Maximum Power: 190 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 325 Nm @ 4400 rpm

Driven Wheels: 4WD
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Continuously variable
Final Drive Ratio: 5.577:1

Length: 4813 mm
Wheelbase: 2900 mm
Width: 1960 mm
Height: 1768 mm
Turning Circle: 11.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1920 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 73 litres
Towing Capacity: 750 kg (2700 kg with braked trailer)

Front Suspension: Independent, double wishbone, coil springs over shock
Rear Suspension: Independent, multi-link, coil springs
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Ventilated disc

Type: Petrol 91RON
Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.2 /100km

Green Vehicle Guide Greenhouse Rating: 5.5/10
Green Vehicle Guide Air Pollution Rating: 5.5/10

Three years/100,000km

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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