Pathfinder peps up for popularity
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 among families as they expected, so a of a rejig was needed to pique interest.
Nissan has tweaked the ride and design, adjusted a few of the functions and made it 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 it is all rather manageable after all.
There is oodles of room, 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 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 and it can slide 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 eight-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 for transporting longer items and passengers.
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.
No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or 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.
The same 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine can be found across the Pathfinder range, except the hybrid. It is quiet and strong and good for 202kW of power and 340Nm of torque. It is paired with a continuously variable transmission that may not feel as good as a normal auto transmission but is 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.
The Pathfinder has a five-star ANCAP rating and boasts an impressive range of active and passive features.
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.
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.
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 more would leave you disappointed.
Nissan’s claimed fuel usage is at 10.1 litres/100km for this AWD variety on a combined cycle. Our week delivered closer to the13.4 litre mark. Oh for a diesel, though.
Given its long list of favourable qualities, it is interesting the Pathfinder has not been the sevenseater wonder Nissan expected it to be. This round of tweaks adds to the appeal and hopefully it will be enough to grab attention.
Pathfinder now sports Nissan’s V Motion grille, new headlights and a few more curves.