FLEXIBLE BEAST: Perfect for an adventurous family camping trip.
FLEXIBLE BEAST: Perfect for an adventurous family camping trip. COVENTRY STUDIOS

Hit the road smoothly with Pathfinder

WHEN we last drove the Nissan Pathfinder, more than a year ago now, we took it on a family camping trip.

After all, Japanese testers may have every technical gizmo at their disposal but it is no match for two small kids, a truckload of camping gear including the Taj Mahal of tents, smelly fishing tackle boxes, a leaky esky and the Australian bush.

We were impressed with the Pathfinder's sure-footedness, its confidence on often trying tracks and grunty engine.

We marvelled at the cavernous cargo space, numerous hidey holes and built-in DVD player that confined the "are we there yets?" to an almost bearable level.

Yes, the last time we drove the Nissan Pathfinder, we pretty much loved it. This time was no different.

Comfort

The space offered by the Pathfinder is one of its key advantages. Head room is more than ample and leg room generous especially if occupancy of the third row is confined to children.

Seats upfront are comfortable, heated and electrically adjustable while the driver also benefits from seat and door mirror memory.

The second row is a bit more bench-like but does have recline settings to help with comfort and both the latter two rows fold flat for extra storage. Leather coverings are soft and easy to wipe clean.

On the road

It is off-road that the Pathfinder comes into its own with a dual-range transfer case, traction control system and powerful diesel engine making rough tracks smooth going.

The independent suspension system (double wishbone in front and multi-link rear) doesn't allow for as much articulation as some competitors but you can live with that.

The 3.0-litre V6 offers all the grunt you will need and the 3500kg towing capacity is a boon to caravan and boat owners.

The Pathfinder retains its manners on the tarmac, and is easy to handle and park despite its size. It's not the most exciting drive with on-demand power a bit sketchy but is balanced, comfortable and assuring.

What do you get?

Nissan's update has added 80mm to the outside of the Pathfinder but they have also spruced up the interior as well.

Equipment levels across all models has been improved while the wood grain has been replaced by modern-looking metallic trim. The Ti550 comes standard with leather seats, sat nav, reverse camera, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, rear seat DVD system and sunroof. Safety features include six airbags, three-point seatbelts, ABS, EBD and stability and traction control.

Other contenders

The Pathfinder will be looking to steal sales from the Toyota Prado ($64,500), Mitsubishi Pajero ($67,390), Ford Territory ($63,240) and Volkswagen Touareg ($62,990).

Practicality

The Pathfinder has the space to haul around the family and the bells and whistles to do so in comfort.

The powerful V6 engine and off-road capability serves to enhance the appeal while peak torque of 550Nm available from 1750rpm is indicative of towing pedigree.

The All Mode AWD system which uses a yaw rate sensor and lateral G-force to ensure power is distributed to the correct wheel in rough conditions is also an advantage.

Running costs

The combined fuel cycle is a reported 9.3 litres/100km which is really good for a vehicle of this bulk. The Pathfinder comes with Nissan's five-year/130,000km vehicle warranty and 10-year/160,000km powertrain warranty with servicing costs capped for the first 120,000km.

Funky factor

The Pathfinder features a refreshed bonnet and grille, new headlights and rounded front bumper.

It looks rugged and business-like but truth be told it could do with a bit less boxy and a bit more jazz.

The lowdown

The Pathfinder's all-round capability and good handling should ensure a good look-in from active families as well as grey nomads looking for versatility without bulk.

Vital statistics

Model: Nissan Pathfinder Ti550.

Details: Five-door all-mode 4WD.

Engine: 3.0-litre intercooled V6 turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 170kW @ 3750rpm and peak torque of 550Nm from 1750rpm.

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.

Consumption: 9.3 litres/100km combined average.

CO2: 246g/km.

Bottom line: from $75,990.


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