Pathfinder is a large, high-riding, SUV.

As the world continues the buyer shift from passenger cars to SUV and LCV utes, the ratio is really ramping up.

7-seater vehicles are just the ticket for someone who wants to take granny along on a family adventure. When granny would rather suck lemons than put up with whining kids, the seats will be tucked neatly away. It takes up a bunch of space in the boot, so removing them when not in use would be mighty handy.

Pathfinder was released 5 years ago and sold 2,400 to the end of November. That is substantially down from 3,618 from this time last year, and is a 33.7% drop. Nissan’s best seller is Pathfinder’s little sister, the Qashqai. It sold 18,194 for the same period.

Pathfinder was launched with 3 models, ST, ST-L and Ti. These were joined in 2017 by the ST+ which added some tasty tech goodness.

How practical is Pathfinder?

Pathfinder has mighty generous 2,260L of cargo space when 2nd and 4rd row seats are stowed. It’s not quite flat, but near as damnit. Plenty of space camping gear, and associated campers.

There is a $69,390 hybrid option which improves fuel figures slightly, but the V6 petrol has enough oomph for most people. The V6 comes in at $62,890 for those who don’t have the $7,500 extra to spend.

Seats are comfortable with power adjustment including lumbar support. Front seats are heated and cooled, and 2nd row outer seats are heated.

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What extras did 2017 bring?

50% of the V6 engine was newly developed in 2017, and included 12 extra KW and 15 extra torques to bring the figures to 202kw/340Nm. Noice!

All Pathfinders have a new generation CVT automatic. The impressively named Xtronic CVT has a thing called D-Step logic, which simulates gear ratios under full acceleration. I still feel quite gloomy when I’m given a car with a CVT, no matter what fancy name they give it. Most drivers will never notice though, so it doesn’t matter a tinker’s cuss.

Steering was made more responsive, and suspension was stiffened by 11% in the front, and 7% around back. Ride is nice and smooth with MacPherson strut front suspension, and Multi-Link at the rear. Ti got a rather imposing set of 20” alloys. I didn’t drive the pre-steering update model, but it must have been dreadful. The current steering feels rather vague.

That all sounds tickety boo, but it doesn’t stop there.

Other Large SUV reviews:

Mazda CX-8 launch review

Mazda CX-9 Review

Toyota Kluger Black Edition

Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV HSE AWD 2019 Review

What about the 4WD system?

Should granny fancy a trip to the cabin by the lake, you can lock the drive to front wheels only while on the highway, or to 50/50 AWD. In Auto mode, the “intelligent” system monitors all four wheels to send the Goldilocks amount of torque to each for maximum grip.

All of that is controlled by the nifty knob between the front seats.

Pathfinder will handle a bit of rough treatment, so fun could be had if you have the chutzpah to try.

How well equipped is Pathfinder?

Nissan raided the parts bin and shoved almost everything conceivable into the big SUV.

Outside, there are 20” wheels and a motion-activated power tailgate. I never got the latter to work without the button. I put it down to user error. You can also remotely start the engine, so on hot days, the cabin will be frosty cold when you get in.

Headlights are adaptive LED and integrated LED DTRLs  (daytime running lights).

Inside is even better.

You get tri-zone climate control which includes outlets for the 3rd row. The rugrats will get hours of fun from the screens in the back of the front seat head rests. They can watch their stupid shows with the sound via Bluetooth earphones. You need never hear from them again, unless they start singing along of course. Rear windows are tinted for added privacy.

The 8” front screen includes Navigation and displays the reversing camera with Rear Cross Traffic alert. Sound is Bose, and comes with a whacking 13 speakers. There is plenty of doof-doof if that’s your thing.

There is a Forgotten-child-warning-thingie.

And who hasn’t gotten out of their car distracted by an unexpected call and left something in the Car? I know I have. In the film, the mother forgot the kid, but is the kid really that self obsessed that she didn’t notice the car had park, turned off, and big bad door slammed? Well, she is. The car warned mama but politely tooting the horn.

The driver seat has 8way adjustment, and 2 memory buttons so if granny changes the seat, you can change it back with a single touch.

Here is a full list:

202kW 3.5L V6 petrol engine Heated side mirrors 20” alloy wheels
Xtronic CVT transmission with
D-step Logic Control
Front fog lamps Motion-activated tailgate
7 adult-sized seats with seatbelt
Stainless steel front kick plates LED headlights with
18” alloy wheels Front sunroof and panoramic glass roof Driver position memory
8-way power adjustable driver seat
with manual lumbar support
8-way power adjustable driver seat with
power lumbar support
Remote engine start
Cruise control 4-way power adjustable front
passenger seat
Heated and cooled front seats
Roof rails Heated front seats Updated 2nd row dual
entertainment screens with
wireless headphones, remote
control and HDMI/USB ports
LED daytime running lights Black or Ivory leather-accented seat
Door mirrors with automatic reverse
Tri-zone climate control 13-speaker Bose® audio system with
Acoustic Waveguide technology
EZ Flex® seating system with LATCH
AND GLIDE® technology
Satellite navigation with traffic
monitoring and multi-touch
Leather-accented steering wheel Intelligent Around-View® Monitor with
Moving Object Detection
Intelligent Key® with push button
engine start
Intelligent Cruise Control
Reversing camera with predictive
path technology
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Rear parking sensors Intelligent Emergency Braking with
Forward-collision Warning
Advanced Drive-Assist® Display Blind Spot Warning
AM/FM/DVD/MP3/RDS audio system
with 8” colour touch-screen
Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
USB (x2) connectivity ports
Bluetooth® phone/audio
connectivity with voice
6 speakers
Hill Start Assist
6 airbags
2nd row ISOFIX and tether anchor points
3rd row RH tether anchor point  
Tyre pressure monitoring system
Automatic headlights
Power-folding mirrors with
integrated turn indicators
Privacy glass
2,700kg braked towing capacity
– Intelligent 4×4 with Hill Descent
– 2.5L 4-cyl. supercharged petrol
engine with 15kW electric motor
(2WD only)
– Intelligent 4×4 with Hill Descent
– 2.5L 4-cyl. supercharged petrol engine
with 15kW electric motor (4WD only)
– Intelligent 4×4 with Hill Descent
– 2.5L 4-cyl. supercharged petrol
engine with 15kW electric motor
(4WD only)

What is Pathfinder like to drive?

Pathfinder is a big, lazy, long-legged SUV. You sit very high, so the centre of gravity is also very high.

Corners are best taken in a leisurely fashion. Pathfinder is no sports car, but then it isn’t meant to be. Acceleration is similarly leisurely, and on the highway, the engine barely ticks over. That is what CVT automatics are best at. Down go the revs until they’re needed.

Steering feels quite aloof and disconnected. The passengers are isolated from the road and that makes for an ethereal journey.

There is enough for 5 adults, but the 3rd row is best for smaller peeps.

The cabin isn’t exactly luxurious, but entry into the Pathfinder club is a mere 43grand, and trim doesn’t magically become plush when you spend 70k on the top model.

Parking is easier than you might expect. The 360° camera means lining up in Coles’ carpark is pretty simple. Only a complete idiot would cock that up.

What safety features does Pathfinder have.

Apart from the 360° camera, there is smart cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, hill start assist, descent control and smart AWD. In addition, smart autonomous braking will toss out the anchors if it sees an object in front, and blind spot monitor looks for objects coming up beside you.

There is the usual suite of airbags

What is bad about Pathfinder?

It is mostly good news.

Here are the chinks in the armour.

1: ANCAP 5 star rating is from 2013. That geriatric rating won’t hold up against newer offerings. It doesn’t mean Pathfinder isn’t safe, it just means you can’t compare it against newly rated models. HiLux was in the same boat but was recently retested for a 5 star rating. Ratings tests cost many, many, shekels, at $1,000,000 plus 5 cars. I suspect a retest won’t happen.

2: No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. That is an omission too far for me. It is marketed as a convenience feature, but for me, it is a matter of safety. You can handle your calls, messages, navigation, and music without having to take your eyes off the road.

Sure, Pathfinder has inbuilt navigation and usb connection for music, both require physical intervention by the driver.

What’s the final word on Pathfinder?

Pathfinder is up against Toyota Kluger and Mazda CX9. They present formidable opposition. Toyota Kluger sold 10,228 to end of November, with a further 16,945 Prados. Mazda moved 6,600 CX9 and 2318 CX8 SUVs. Nissan’s 2,400 Pathfinders seems small by comparison. Even KIA and Hyundai sold more large SUVs with 3,526 Sorentos and 5,558 Santa Fe’s find homes (please excuse the appalling use of an apostrophe). Even Jeep moved 2,788 wretched Grand Cherokee. Those poor sods are in for a world of pain.

So, what can we take from this?

There is a lot of choice, and buyers are keener now than ever to put their bucks where it matters.

Always do your homework. Barter for your life, and keep an eye on the resale of the model you choose. One more though: try to buy the car with the most recent ANCAP Star rating. If safety is your top criteria, compare apples with apples.

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