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Car reviews - Nissan - Pathfinder - TI


We like
Muscular design, spacious interior, generously equipped, decent tow rating, seating for eight, balanced ride and handling, capable engine, impressively quiet ride
Room for improvement
No hybrid or turbo-diesel engine offering, higher fuel consumption, cramped third-row middle seat, automatic can be slow to kick down, feels large in town / when parking

Nissan’s Pathfinder straddles the gap between on-road family hauler and weekend adventurer

25 Jun 2024



THE seven-seat SUV segment is a veritable battlefield for Australian importers, with some of the toughest competition – and some of the best family vehicles – battling it out for a place in your driveway.


Over 20 contenders vie within the SUV Large under $80K segment, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the suave and sophisticated.


Ruling out those models with a body-on-frame chassis, the segment offers up at least a dozen seven-seaters that have become household names Down Under – including the likes of the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Sorento, and ubiquitous Toyota Kluger, and, of course, the subject of this review, the Nissan Pathfinder (which can seat up to eight passengers depending on variant).


Unfortunately, the Pathfinder isn’t doing so well in terms of sales when measured against its closest counterparts. Year-to-date sales show Nissan has moved just 301 examples of the ‘Pathy’, or just over three per cent of the volume of the segment’s top seller, Ford’s Everest.


On paper the Nissan Pathfinder offers a lot, which makes us question why sales are so slow. Pricing ranges from $59,670 plus on-road costs for the entry-grade ST-L through to $82,490 + ORC for the flagship Ti-L, each offering generous equipment and A-grade safety levels, as we discover below.


Tested this week is the Pathfinder Ti, which is available in two- and all-wheel drive format from $67,990 and $72,490 plus on-road costs respectively.


It is powered by Nissan’s VQ35DD-series 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive models gain driver selectable modes including those for Snow, Sand, Mud and Towing.


Braked towing capacity for the Pathfinder is listed at 2700kg across the board and is backed by a trailer stability program as part of the vehicle’s electronic stability control system.


The Pathfinder is further enhanced by Nissan’s new dual-pinion electric assisted steering setup it claims provides sporty and engaging feedback to the driver. It rides on a MacPherson strut (front) and independent multi-link (rear) suspension arrangement and is stopped by four-wheel disc brakes.


Across the range we find a comprehensive safety package from the Nissan Intelligent Mobility Suite with Nissan’s Pro-Pilot semi-autonomous driving system with lane keep assist, traffic jam pilot, 360-degree camera technology and moving object detection to name a few.


The Pathfinder holds a five-star ANCAP safety rating.


The Pathfinder range also includes as standard a rear-view camera with inbuilt parking sensors, a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 10.8-inch head-up display unit, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, native satellite navigation, LED dusk-sensing headlights with high-beam assist, 18-inch alloys, an eight-way powered driver’s seat and EZ Flex latch-and-glide seating adjustment.


Further, all Pathfinder variants offer wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity, DAB+ digital radio reception, four USB charging ports and two 12-volt auxiliary power outlets., LED fog lights, roof rails, and a powered tailgate.


The Pathfinder Ti on test adds leather-appointed upholstery, rear seat heaters, wireless device charging and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system among its highlights.


Driving Impressions


The Pathfinder is a sizeable vehicle. From the driver’s seat, the middle row, and even from way up back there’s a feeling of spaciousness that is appreciated – even if it means the vehicle has a ‘presence’ on the road.


That is to say it’s a large SUV and will take some getting used to if you’re moving up from the previous generation car – especially when parking in ever-smaller spaces around shopping centres and the like.


On the upside, the Pathfinder’s wide-opening rear doors and clever Ez Flex rear seating make getting in and out a less gymnastic affair than in many so-called seven-seaters.


Amenity items including numerous cup holders, air vents, and USB ports mean every passenger is well catered to, an underfloor storage box and adequate cargo space (205/554/2280 litres) ensuring the Pathfinder is a true family car.


Powering the Pathfinder is a conventional V6 petrol engine and nine-speed automatic combination – an improvement over the outgoing model, but one that is slightly thirsty when viewed against some rivals in the segment.


Like all naturally aspirated engines, the Pathfinder’s 3.5-litre unit needs to be worked to achieve its potential. It is paired with a traditional torque converter auto whose nine ratios are well suited to the application. The ZF-sourced unit does however require a good kick in the guts to downshift when passing or climbing grades, which can eat into the Pathfinder’s fuel economy.


With the family on board, we took the Pathfinder to central Victoria for a weekend of mixed driving away from the city limits. The ride on ‘A’ roads proved exceptionally quiet, the second and third rows slightly louder than the first, but only by degrees.


The adaptive cruise control worked well, keeping the Pathfinder at a safe distance from leading vehicles and central in its lane. It makes for relaxing travel over longer distances – as does the well-sorted suspension setup.


Moving from ‘A’ to ‘B’ to ‘C’ roads the Pathfinder proved both capable and comfortable. The divots and potholes of the Hepburn Shire proved no match for the 18-inch wheels fitted to the Ti grade on test, the higher profile (60 aspect) rubber offering plenty of compliance when challenged.


The vehicle steers well with sufficient accuracy and appropriate assistance. We found the body posture to be terrifically regulated when winding through narrow backroads, managing directional changes and body weight with impeccable ease. Even on unsealed roads the Pathfinder is a pleasure to drive, delivering admirable feedback levels on changing surfaces.


Using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters enables useful engine braking for downhill grades, the Pathfinder’s all-wheel disc brakes progressive in their response to the pedal. Braking performance is sufficient for family duties.


Nissan says the all-wheel drive Pathfinder will consume 10.5 litres per 100km on the Combined cycle. We used around 10.1L/100km in mostly highway use, the number climbing towards the ‘12’ mark in town. Given the technology offered, and the size of the vehicle, it’s a decent figure; but one we suspect would be bettered by diesel and hybrid competitors…


Looking at the sales figures it’s a point that seems to be deterring large SUV buyers – especially as we all seek to trim what we can from the weekly fuel bill.


With rival models delivering comparable size, safety and technology for a similar price – and with the choice of more efficient powertrains – the trusty petrol ‘six’ under the Pathfinder’s bonnet seems an obvious deterrent to what is an otherwise exceptional package.

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