|  First Published: February 2011

The newly upgraded Nissan Pathfinder, designated as the R51 Series 4, has been available since the latter half of 2010 and while there are no major changes to the outward appearance of the vehicle, they are evident if you compare apples with apples or in this case, Pathfinder’s old and new models.

The 2010 Pathfinder’s mild facelift sees the tried and trusty seven seater with a more modernized, sporty appearance via a new bonnet, grille and bumper assembly complete with a new headlights design. The overall result is somewhat more impressive styling plus an 80mm increase in length despite the rear bumpers being squared off to tidy up the rear end.

The Pathfinder’s interior has also undergone some important revisions. Foremost among them are a revised centre console with useful compartments and drink holders. Then there are new door trims, eye catching chrome highlights on the dash (these are subtle but very effective) with new fabric for ST models, while the ST-L and TI models are complete with heated front seats that are leather of course.

The Pathfinder is now equipped solely with the proven 2.5L, four cylinder turbo charged and inter cooled common rail diesel tweaked to provide a further 11% more power at 140 kW, and 12% more torque at 450Nm, which is indeed a lot of twisting power!

Looking at competitors in this hotly contested corner of the diesel SUV market we see Toyota’s Prado with figures of 127kW/410Nm, the Mitsubishi Challenger with 131/400, Kia Sorento 145kW/422Nm and Hyundai Sante Fe 145kW/343Nm respectively which certainly places the Pathfinder towards the pointy end of the pile.

The engine’s common rail and direct injection technology serves to offer enhanced fuel consumption with the diesel Pathfinder returning fuel consumption of 9L per 100km during a lengthy country run.

Top of range TI auto

I don’t sit in leather car seats very often but I did find the top shelf five speed auto Pathfinder TI’s neatly stitched and well padded driver’s seat with its auto memory and infinite electric adjustment very much to my liking. The leather wrapped wheel with radio, blue tooth and cruise control commands all at the finger tips, was also pretty easy to get accustomed to as well.

In general, tasteful is the word for the TI’s interior. Starting right at the front it’s noticeable that the former interior wood grain is now replaced by a far smoother and subtle metallic trim that looks very smart but effectively highlighted the newly revised array of major dials plus the dash mounted selector control knob for all wheel drive functions.

The updated 2010 model also saw buyers treated to a significant increase in equipment levels and modern day technology. The Pathfinder TI came with auto folding exterior mirrors (with in-built turn indicators) plus auto levelling Xenon headlights complete with concealed headlamp washers. A sun roof is standard, as is electric operation for virtually every function.

Rear seat passengers are able to enjoy DVD entertainment via the roof mounted system complete with separate head phones for passengers. Front passengers can access the 6 stack CD sound system with integrated I-pod connectivity.

Handy Sat Nav system

The new Pathfinder TI is equipped with a quite intuitive Sat/Nav system that functions via a hard drive. I’m no whizz kid on these things but the Pathfinder’s 3D system had me finding my way to a couple of addresses in very short order. The screen is large at 22cm, one touch friendly for users, and doubles as a good sized reversing camera once the selector is moved to R in lieu of D.

On the Road

The enhanced performance from the Pathfinder is evident from the outset. The 2.5L diesel rattles a little at idle but smoothes out well once underway to become virtually silent from within the interior of the seven seater. Cruising at posted speed limits sees the engine taking it pretty easy with 2,000 rpm ideal for cruising at 110kph.

The steering is light but direct, driving position ideal with a high command seating arrangement offering great visibility. The powerful engine and five speed auto made short work of even twisty mountain sections during test runs with gear changes up or down taking place intuitively and without the need for driver input. As it should be.

A little body roll was evident at high speeds but it must be noted that the vehicle’s independent suspension coped well with bumps and uneven surfaces encountered from recent rain events. And let’s not forget that the Pathfinder is a true four wheel drive with all wheel and low range capability available at the turn of the dash mounted selector.

Summing up

The Nissan TI Pathfinder diesel has a lot going for it. It’s certainly more refined, more powerful, and with more kit than the previous model. Moreover, owners can stow a lot of camping or fishing gear in the large rear luggage compartment with its swing up door for ease of complete access. Safety features abound in the form of Vehicle Dynamic Control with traction control system, ABS, and dual front and side SRS air bags.

Rear seats fold down quite flat to facilitate storage even further. With the two rear seats up and in use luggage space is reduced considerably and, further, the seats are really only suitable for children or younger, more agile adults in my view. Perhaps if you’re going to a race meeting they could accommodate a couple of jockeys.

Towing is enhanced now to a 3,000kg braked trailer capacity, which covers a lot of boats and camper trailers.

Price for the TI Pathfinder 2.5L diesel auto is around the $66,485 mark plus on road costs.

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