Pathfinder prizes second chance
IN ANY race you need to be in front at the end, and that’s where the Pathfinder finished in the Overlander 4WD of the Year contest. It certainly didn’t trounce the opposition, especially the Challenger, but it garnered sufficient points to carry the day.
You can put that down to its value for money, performance, economy, refinement, on-road handling, space efficiency, and just enough ability in the bush.
And in winning, the updated R51 Pathfinder has repeated history as the last Nissan to win 4WD of The Year was the 1999 update of the 1996 R50 Pathfinder.
All of which goes to show that some things are best sampled second time around.
A new common-rail fuelinjection system and a bigger, electronically controlled turbo sees power jump from a claimed 126kW to 140kW and the claimed torque figure is up from 403Nm to 450Nm.
With its fully independent suspension and road-oriented Goodyear Wrangler HP tyres we expect the Pathfinder to really struggle on the muddy set-piece hillclimb but that’s not the case.
It works harder than the Challenger, but it’s as good as the HiLux and better than the Navara, and considerably easier than the Jeep.
It works harder on the set-piece 4WD loop as the fully independent suspension struggles to keep all four wheels on the ground. As a consequence, the traction control is very busy and the rear mudflaps and the sidesteps touch down on more than few occasions.
Yet for all that, the Pathfinder still makes it around comfortably and with none of the low-speed throttle surging that sometimes troubles the Navara.
Performance aside, one of the big advances of this Pathfinder is that the new engine and the five-speed auto are far happier companions than in the pre-update models.
With the previous model, the sixspeed manual was the only way to go as the automatic was almost always unhappy in more demanding touring environments.
Now buyers don’t have to suffer that compromise.
The only ‘‘sin’’ the auto commits is it sometimes wants to hold on to the taller gears longer than it should on long, steep climbs.
The Pathfinder’s 80-litre tank enhances its touring range, and a handy 3000kg towing capacity is also a bonus.