Pathfinder’s the real deal

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWL­ING

HU­MANS re­main on the earth be­cause they’re cun­ning lit­tle crit­ters who can out­think other crea­tures.

They’re also adept at cam­ou­flage and, like a chameleon changes its ap­pear­ance to suit the en­vi­ron­ment, hu­mans change their pres­ence to suit their so­cial sur­round­ings.

It is pop­u­lar, for ex­am­ple, to be seen in the com­mu­nity as be­ing a bit of an es­capist. An ad­ven­turer or at least one with a sense of ad­ven­ture.

Ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers prey con­vinc­ingly on this dint in the ar­mour of the earth’s great­est thinker by pro­vid­ing the prospect of ad­ven­ture with­out the dust, dirt and flies. It’s called an SUV. For the real ad­ven­tur­ers, there’s the Nis­san Pathfinder.

Like a visit to a Paddy Pallin store, the real out­doors may be free but get­ting there in the right gear is darn ex­pen­sive. De­spite the fact that things are a lot cheaper in Spain than they are here, the Span­ish-built Pathfinder doesn’t come cheap.

The mid-range ST-L model is $59,490, which is dearer than its Thai-built Mit­subishi Chal­lenger coun­ter­part at $56,390 and well above the other main con­tender, the US-made $43,000 Jeep Wran­gler Un­lim­ited four-door diesel.

But if you’re go­ing Pathfinder, the ST-L is the best model choice.

The Pathfinder is por­trayed as a medium-size SUV, but com­pared to a mid-size car it’s a whop­per.

Though big and un­friendly in most carparks, it has light steer­ing, ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity, a squared body shape (with no hid­den corners), silky au­to­matic gear­box and gutsy low-speed en­gine in its favour.

Diesels aren’t quiet and the Pathfinder doesn’t dis­ap­point. At idle it’s rough but set­tles as the revs rise to be­come al­most in­audi­ble at cruis­ing speeds. It’s also re­spon­sive and if the tacho nee­dle is sway­ing around 2500-3000rpm, it will ac­cel­er­ate sur­pris­ingly quickly with­out need­ing a gear­box down­change.

Sandy tracks are a breeze. The Pathfinder de­faults to rear-wheel drive but a ro­tary dial on the dash se­lects 4WD High and 4WD Low, mak­ing it a very ca­pa­ble ma­chine off the road. Yes, its in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion can hang up a wheel when cross­ing gnarly ruts or logs.

But the Pathfinder uses elec­tronic wheel mon­i­tor­ing to shuf­fle power di­rectly to the wheel(s) that are on the ground. Your chances of get­ting stuck are pretty re­mote.

Best of all, the Pathfinder has a 3000kg tow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity to suit trav­ellers with car­a­vans.

The Nis­san Pathfinder is a 4WD for the se­ri­ous ad­ven­turer

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