Nissan Pathfinder – For the last two years Nissan has hardly sold any Pathfinder large SUV in the Australian market. Before that it had been in decline in terms of sales probably because of increased competition and also that it had moved more toward the soft-roader end on the market
They are now back with the new fifth generation model that they hope will re-establish its presence in our market.
Target Market – part way between off roader and family taxi
The large SUV segment has a wide range of vehicles aimed at various situations and demographics.
While the first Pathfinders were clearly derivatives of their utility models, the fourth and now the fifth generation versions have moved away from the intense off-road capability.
There is a broad spectrum from a soft-roader urban vehicle, to the rugged off-road capable vehicle.
The most prominant image that Nissan is promoting for the Pathfinder is for a larger family that might not want a people mover but has three or four children. They also want to pitch that it has enough towing and off-road capability for those with at least a sense of adventure.
We spoke to Martin Longayroux Nissan’s chief marketing manager for X-Trail Pathfinder and EV and asked him where the Pathfinder fitted in the wide spectrum of the large SUV segment.
ML: Primarily with the soft roader, because it’s definitely very family friendly. It’s a petrol vehicle that comes in two wheel drive [in some variants] as well. But I think it’s capability there’s been a lot of work done [and] also its styling and its and its appeal will shift it more towards the off-road spectrum of the of that. So more, you know, definitely more in the middle as opposed to one side or the other.
DB: Not rock hopping and in extremities, but certainly for a family that wants to be a little adventurous?
ML: Yeah, exactly. Like any family they want to go off more of that off road and they can guarantee they can get into any campsite if that’s campsites on the beach or it’s the off road or they’ve had the bad weather like we’ve had in Victoria recently. Like you don’t have to worry, you’ll be able to get to where you need to go.
Body and exterior
The Pathfinder is a little taller (+5mm) a little wider (+15 mm) with the same wheelbase but overall shorter in length (-38 mm) that the model it replaces.
Nissan describes its appearance as being “Rugged from the ground up” and “Even the new aluminium-alloy wheel designs have a machined, tool-like seriousness to them”. I would not call the looks rugged but solid, with a distinctive look based around the traditional SUV box shape.
Nissan describes the back of the vehicle as having a “boxed out boot”. The tailgate has a distinct panel that projects out of the back of the car, not aggressively but offers a clear panel for the large “Pathfinder” lettering.
Like the just released X-trail, the rear passenger doors now open to 85 degrees to help access.
There are seven colours available: Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Scarlet Ember, Ivory Pearl, Glacier White and Deep Ocean Blue Pearl.
For the first time on the Pathfinder you can get two-tone paint for the “floating roof” design style but only on the top two grade specifications.
Noise, Vibration and Harshness
Nissan has put some effort into reducing road noise in the cabin with thicker carpet backing (+250 percent), increased door isolation area (+20 percent), thicker second-row glass, improved door and floor isolation and acoustic laminated glass in the front, improved dash and hood insulators, and a new engine cover. It has been successful as the vehicle does not aggressively transfer noise into the cabin and is a good vehicle for touring even over some of Australia’s road that are in need of maintenance.
The car can be configured as a seven-or eight-person seating capacity. The seven-seat arrangement uses captain chairs in the middle row. This is a very practical feature to gain access to the third row of seating without the usual battle to tilt the second row of seats forward and is well suited to parents with children
The general feel of the car is one of space (particularly in width) better than their X-Trail and the quality of fit and finish is impressive
All vehicles have wireless car play
Nissan Pathfinder Model Walk
Without going through a long list of features there are some that seem to indicate the nature of the differences in the four specification levels.
Base Model ST
- 10” TFT Advanced Drive-Assist® Display
- 8” Head-Up Display
- 10” touchscreen with navigation, inbuilt Android Auto™ and wireless Apple CarPlay®
- Tyre pressure monitoring system
- Heated front seats
- Tri-zone air conditioning
- Nissan Intelligent Mobility safety suite including Predictive Forward Collision Warning with Junction Assist and Emergency Braking (calibrated for pedestrians and cyclists), Driver Attention Alert, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and back-up collision intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control with adjustable speed limiter, Traffic Sign Recognition with overspeed prevention
- Digital Around View Monitor with moving object detection
- ProPILOT “semi-autonomous driving assistance”
- Mud and Sand Terrain modes for 4WD models
- Hill Descent Control (4WD only)
- Power tailgate operation
- Roof rails
- Remote-engine start for cabin pre-cooling or heating
- Heated rear seats
- Wireless smartphone charging pad
- Additional USB charging outlet for third row of seats
- Second row captain’s chairs (7-seat capacity)
- Metal front kick plates
- Reverse tilt door mirrors with memory function
- Intelligent Rear View Mirror
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Power-adjust steering wheel with memory function
- Driver’s seat memory function
- 4-way power assist passenger’s seat
- Ventilated front seats
- 3″ TFT Advanced Drive-Assist® Display instrument cluster
- Tilt-slide front sunroof and panoramic glass roof
- 20-inch alloy wheels
All Pathfinders are now fitted with a low-distortion 10.8-inch Head-Up Display with double free-form mirror technology which keeps the image stable regardless of driver eye position. The display links to the navigation to provide turn-by-turn direction.
The centre infotainment screen is 9 inches in diameter which is smaller than the new X-Trail. While screen size is one of the features that companies are now boasting about, it is just as critical to have clarity on the screens and not to try and communicate too much information.
The Pathfinder does this well especially with the head-up display.
Power Train/Driving Impressions
All variants of the Pathfinder have the same drivetrain.
The engine is a 3.5 litre V6 (202kW @ 6400rpm and 340Nm @ 4800rpm). As it is not turbo charged the torque figure is not huge and comes at higher revs, but it still travels nicely.
The big improvement is that it is now paired with a lighter, nine-speed automatic transmission, replacing the previous CVT.
The rack-mounted electric steering has been refined for better damping and improved response,
The ride quality has been improved with updated front and rear suspension, with front-roll stiffness increased by 28 per cent, while the multi-link rear is equipped with improved shock absorbers and dampers. Rear-roll stiffness has increased by 14 percent.
The Pathfinder does not have the highest towing capacity in its class and it does not have a low ratio gear box but it is rated to tow 2.7-tonnes.
By comparison large SUVs with a tougher focus have higher towing capacity: the Isuzu MU-X is rated to tow 3,500kgs; Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 3,100kg; while the Prado is 3,000 kgs
But the Pathfinder is higher than the Subaru Outback at 2,400kg or the Toyota Kluger at 2,000kgs
The Ti and Ti_L also have five driver’s Mode settings: Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow, Sand, and Mud/Rut and Tow
The different dynamics are achieved through:
- Throttle response
- VDC tuning Vehicle Dynamics Control – electronic stability control
- Steering weight
- 4WD Torque distribution
We towed 725 kg jet ski on its trailer – close to the highest non-braked allowance. It was hard to notice much of a different except perhaps for an understandable reduction in acceleration on a hill.
In a positive approach to road safety the base model has most of the safety features
It has nine cabin airbags including full sized bags protecting all passenger rows.
But the base model does not have all the driver assistance technology.
It only takes one step up, however, up in specification level (ST-L) to add Nissan’s semi-autonomous ProPilot system.
Despite its fancy name the ProPilot is a relatively common system that links the Intelligent Cruise Control system with steering assist, which maintains vehicle-to-vehicle distance and speed, and keeps the car in the middle of the designated lane.
It quite acceptable on high standard roads but it is not as good as some other manufacturers most notably Korea’s Hyundai and Kia brands.
Also look at:
If you want more off-road capability
- Isuzu M-UX
- Toyota Prado
If urban situations and better quality roads are your territory
- Subaru Outback
- Toyota Kluger
Nissan Pathfinder Pricing
- ST 2WD $54,190
- ST-L 4WD $61,790
- Ti 2WD $65,910
- Ti 4WD $70,030
- Ti-L 4WD $80,227
* Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) are provided for media purposes only and do not include premium paint, statutory charges or other on-road costs
^$700 surcharge for premium paint; $1200 surcharge for two-tone paint
What is Good?
- Very good sound deadening even on poor roads
- Good road manners
- Captain chair option
What is not so Good
- Lane-keep assist is not class leading
- No matter how rugged Nissan describes the looks it is not a full off-roader
- Design is distinctive without being elegant
Pathfinder Ti-L MY 2023
|3.5 Litre V6 Petrol non-turbocharged
|9 Speed automatic and 4WD
|202kW @ 6400rpm
|340Nm @ 4800rpm
|Not yet rated
|0-100kmh / Top Speed
|10.5 l/100km combined cycle
|Economy on test
|capped price for the first six services
|5-Year Unlimited Kilometre (does not cover normal wear and tear, normal maintenance servicing, accidents, theft, fire, or illegal use.)
|Road side Assist
|five years of 24-Hour Roadside Assistance
|Behind the Wheel
|Ride and Handling
|Fit for Purpose
|Styling / Appeal
|Value for Money
|1,978 (excluding revision mirrors)
|20 inch alloy
|Turning Circle KTK
|Boot Capacity Min
|205 litres second and third row seats upright
|Boot capacity Max
|782 litres second and third row seat folded down
|Tow Ball rating
The Nissan pathfinder is a half way house between and urban soft-roader and a full off-road capable vehicle.
It is not particularly cheap but has some good features for those who may get off the main roads but not get to the deserts.
It comes back to a very competitive segment of the market that is not growing a fast as some other SUV categories.
Nissan will have to work hard to get a good foothold back into this part of the market.