Australia is undoubtedly a SUV loving nation, it’s nuts for them. There’s also no doubt they have played a huge role in dispatching the much-loved homegrown, dinky-di sedan into oblivion and it’s easy to see why. Nissan has now revamped its previously rugged and gutsy Pathfinder revealing a sleek, sophisticated and genuine seven seater. EFTM recently drove both ends of the Pathfinder range.
The 10 Minute Test Drive.
Nissan’s new offering is deceptively large, without being overly tall. Flowing, fluidic lines define the side on view. The front features Nissan’s latest corporate face which triggers memories of the gargantuan Patrol V8 we so loved. From behind it’s a little generic, with a few observers noting it looks something like a “Hyundai” or even a “Mazda”.
Be it the base ST or fully loaded Ti model, interior wise the Pathfinder gets our nod. Hard wearing (or insert “hard”) plastics look after most of the upper dash. Alloy look accents and dark plastic panelling around the mid console and shifter look pleasing enough.
In the back are 5 more seats, with the third row able to accommodate moderately sized humans with acceptable comfort. With plenty of air vents to keep everyone comfortable the huge cabin is a very attractive proposition for those that need it.
The multimedia system is operated by numerous buttons surrounding a central dial. But annoyingly the base ST misses out on Bluetooth streaming.
But once on the go it becomes evident how different the Pathfinder now is. Ultra quiet and impressively refined, it immediately reminded me of Mazda’s now ageing but still excellent CX-9. To put it very simply, it just rolls well.
There’s enough power on tap, but disappointingly very little early on. The Pathfinder is sluggish in stop start traffic but real grunt does arrive fashionably late when floored. Steering is quite light at lower speeds but the large frame can be thrown through corners with confidence.
Ins and outs.
Choosing a power plant / transmission combo is easy, you only get one choice. A 3.5-litre V6 petrol married to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Although the ST sends drive to just the front wheels, the Ti can turn all four paws.
The 4WD system is really only good for light work. There is no mechanical locking centre differential or even a low range option. You can lock the drivetrain in 4WD but only up to 40km/h. The now lower clearance may be good for aerodynamics but no good for tackling the real rough stuff.
[email protected],400 rpm and 325Nm @4,400 rpm reveal the cause of the less than impressive off the mark performance but this is still a typically sweet Nissan V6 engine. I’d like to see some paddle shifters to extract a little more from the CVT transmission. They are found in the new Altima and would really help in towing situations. Incidentally it can now only lug around 2,700kg down from 3,000kg.
Equipment levels are excellent across both models tested. The ST scores highlights such as a reversing camera with rear parking sensors and 18″ allow wheels. On top of that, Ti variants score extras like a Tri-zone Entertainment System, Around View Monitor reversing camera, satellite navigation, 20″ alloy wheels, leather seats, dual pane glass sunroof and the All Mode 4×4-i System.
All Pathfinders score tri-zone automatic climate control, privacy glass and the EZ Flex seating system. The latter allows the middle row to be slid backwards when the third row is not in use. The result is massive leg room.
This is no doubt a decent troop carrier. Kids will love the top model’s dual rear entertainment screens and panoramic glass roof. A run through the local drive thru will never prove problematic, there are enough cup holders spread around to accommodate at least 10 supersize offerings.
There’s quite a disparity price wise between the two models tested. The ST weighs in at $39,990 while stepping up to the Ti skyrockets to $64,890 (plus on roads). Sitting in the middle is the ST-L at $50,290 you can add a further $4000 for the 4WD option.
Nissan claims fuel economy figures of 9.9l / 100km (FWD) and 10.2l / 100km (AWD). We sailed closer to 10.6l and 11.9l respectively.
But if light off-road work or cruising down a beach are not a priority the ST represents huge value.
EFTM Rubber Stamp.
I’m simply a fan of the fourth generation Nissan Pathfinder. It should satisfy most discerning drivers. With huge family appeal and enough goodies on tap I’d suggest the new “Pathy” will be a big hit on Aussie roads. I do have one concern, there seems to be the occasional shudder from somewhere within the driveline. It’s also occurring on the Nissan Altima we have in the EFTM garage. It’s strange and may well be related to the CVT transmission. Despite this the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder deserves the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.