Back on right path

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

AF­TER more than a decade out of the hon­ours, Nis­san has again taken the Over­lan­der 4WD of the Year award.

The Pathfinder didn’t trounce the op­po­si­tion, es­pe­cially the Chal­lenger, but it gar­nered suf­fi­cient points to carry the day, thanks to its com­pelling com­bi­na­tion of value for money, per­for­mance, econ­omy, re­fine­ment, on-road han­dling, space ef­fi­ciency, and just enough abil­ity in the bush.

In win­ing the award, 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.

The Pathfinder had a sig­nif­i­cant up­grade in 2010 with a new, more pow­er­ful and fuel-ef­fi­cient turbo diesel now stan­dard in all the model grades.

With a new gen­er­a­tion com­mon­rail fuel-in­jec­tion sys­tem and a big­ger, now elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled turbo among other changes, the peak power has jumped from a claimed 126kW to 140kW while the claimed torque fig­ure is up from 403Nm to 450Nm.

With its fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion and road-ori­ented Goodyear Wran­gler HP tyres, we ex­pected the Pathfinder to re­ally strug­gle on the muddy set-piece but that’s not the case. While it works harder than the Chal­lenger, it’s as good as the HiLux and bet­ter than the Navara and con­sid­er­ably more at ease than the Jeep with which its shares fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion.

The Pathfinder 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, in the mean­time, both the rear mud­flaps and the side­steps touch down on more than few oc­ca­sions.

Yet for all that the Pathfinder still makes it around com­fort­ably enough with none of the low-speed throt­tle surg­ing that some­times trou­bles the Navara. More wheel-up ac­tion on the trails but again the Pathfinder does what is asked of it in a ca­pa­ble and com­fort­able enough man­ner. More over-bon­net vis­i­bil­ity would be nice and the auto box can get con­fused in Drive – which means re­sort­ing to the man­ual tip-shift – but this is a bet­ter au­to­matic off-road than that of the Chal­lenger.

Per­for­mance aside, one of the big ad­vance­ments of this up­dated Pathfinder is the new en­gine and the fivespeed auto are far hap­pier com­pan­ions than in the pre-update mod­els.

And, while the Pathfinder’s fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion isn’t the ideal set-up off-road, it cer­tainly comes into its own on the road. Here the Pathfinder rides a lit­tle on the firm side but is gen­er­ally poised and com­posed with only some un­der­steer to de­tract from its sporty dy­namic abil­ity. 1993 Land­Cruiser 80 se­ries RV 1994 Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Tdi auto 1995 Range Rover HSE 1996 Toy­ota Prado RV man­ual 1997 Mit­subishi Pa­jero GLS 3.5 1998 Lexus LX 470 1999 Nis­san Pathfinder ST 2000 Toy­ota Prado GXL turbo-diesel 2001 BMW X5 4.4i 2002 Range Rover Td6 2003 Volk­swa­gen Touareg V8 2004 Land Rover Dis­cov­ery 3 TDV6 2005 Range Rover Sport TDV6 2006 Toy­ota Prado GXL D4D 2007 Toy­ota Land­Cruiser 200

GXL D4D 2008 Mit­subishi NT Pa­jero GLS Cdi 2009 Mit­subishi Tri­ton GLX-R 2010 Nis­san Pathfinder

COM­PELLING COM­BI­NA­TION: The Nis­san Pathfinder has been named the Over­lan­der 4WD of the Year.

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