Take a plusher path
Nissan’s seven-seater returns to the radar. Grant Edwards counts its tweaks — and thirst
TWO out of three large sports utility vehicles sold last year were pretenders.
You know the type: they have the off-roader hallmarks, such as ride-height and flared arches, but they are designed to rarely leave the bitumen. Made for the school run, not burly bush fun.
Nissan saw the writing on the wall for its Pathfinder in late 2013.
The previous generation was of the utilitarian variety but the new model went from Pathfinder to Path-kinder. The move paid dividends, with sales more than doubling in 2014.
Two years later, though, sales have slowed and a muchneeded mid-life update brings a new face, improved tech smarts, extra power and other tweaks to the V6 variants.
Prices have remained the same across the Pathfinder line-up, apart from the entry level front-drive model, which is $500 more at $41,990 plus on-roads.
Nissan Australia boss Richard Emery says extra value has been thrown at the big SUV, along with plans for snappier marketing, to grab the attention he says it deserves against offerings such as the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9 and Hyundai Santa Fe.
“We think it has become a forgotten car,” he says.
“Maybe it flies under the radar…maybe it’s our fault, the nature of the segment or the style of vehicle it is.
“When we moved from (the previous model) we have never sold so many Pathfinders.
“Our volume has been slowly creeping up. We think it deserves a greater level of consideration.”
There are still three levels of spec, ST, ST-L and Ti, with a choice of the revised V6 or a hybrid with four-cylinder and an electric motor.
Among the key changes is better connectivity through a standard eight-inch colour touchscreen with two USB ports. The ST-L and Ti get satnav with updated graphics.
Ti models have three USB slots and an HDMI input that allows separate viewing on the rear screens. Parents rejoice.
Radar cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert and surroundview camera have also been introduced to the mid and topspec models.
ON THE ROAD
All the gains come with the volume-selling V6, thanks to changes to more than 50 per cent of engine components.
The performance is smoother and more refined thanks to the “D-Step” continuously variable automatic transmission, as seen in the X-Trail. It performs more like a standard self-shifter and mimics gear changes under heavy acceleration.
Improvements send 12kW more power to the front or all wheels (depending on model) while torque is boosted from 325Nm to 340Nm.
There’s ample power but fuel consumption remains at the upper end of the scale by modern standards. Our test in rural surrounds returned about 12.0L/100km.
Its North American heritage is evident in the plush ride, although the suspension has been stiffened and the steering quickened for differing Australian tastes.
Excellent road manners and a quiet, feature-laden cabin ensure there is a lot to like about the Pathfinder.
There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a key omission. Its double-digit thirst will raise eyebrows but this is a large job with genuine capacity for seven.
There is excellent space in all three rows and the Pathfinder remains a refined and wellsorted family hauler with the V6 providing willing response to the throttle.