Nissan has taken some bold steps with their new fourth generation Pathfinder. Gone is the 4x4 low range capability; likewise the diesel option. However, the newbie is larger all round, styling has been upgraded to a more conventional, smoother look and there are some terrific seating options in its very spacious interior.
Nissan has obviously noted the wide acceptance of 2WD models in today’s SUV market because they are offering the new Pathfinder in either 2WD or 4WD. Buyers of the 2WD model get the appropriate savings.
Owners wanting a bit more traction, for example at the boat ramp or when towing a heavy trailer or caravan, can opt for the AWD model. It transfers power from front to all wheels, on demand, via a rotary dial on the centre console. It’s a proven system and does allow just that bit more grunt when push turns to shove.
Understand, though, that whatever drive option you choose, the new Pathfinder’s offroad capability is limited by the greatly reduced ground clearance from the spoiler up front, rather than by sheer traction distribution.
While in many respects the Gen 4 Pathfinder is going to be more of an SUV than the 4WD we’ve become accustomed to, the big wagon is still a very efficient people mover. It has all the benefits of a high seating position, a very luxurious interior for up to 7 passengers, and a ride that is a lot more car like than its predecessor, which was based on the Navara ute with its body on frame set-up. Gen 4 has a monocoque construction in lieu which sees significant weight reduction, with a flow-on to fuel economy as well a ride which is far less agricultural than previously.
All 3 Pathfinder models come in either 2WD or 4WD, are 7-seaters, and have wheel-mounted audio and cruise control systems and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, Hill Start Assist, EBD and Brake Assist plus Vehicle Dynamic Control. All major functions are electrically controlled.
The base ST (which is a country mile away from anyone’s idea of a poverty pack vehicle) has a host of features, from Tri-Zone climate control for all 3 seating areas through to a large reversing camera with proximity sensors.
The new ST-L combines all ST features with extra goodies such as front fog lamps, front sunroof and panoramic glass roof, leather accented seats with front seats electrically adjustable and heated,and electronic steering wheel adjustment.
The deluxe Ti combines all ST-L features and then some. It has 20” alloy wheels, a power tail gate, sat nav, heated and cooled front seats, a premium Bose sound system, 8” front display, a 9GB music box and a premium dual 7” screen DVD entertainment system with screens mounted in the rear of the front seat headrests.
All 3 versions feature an advanced Driver Assist display which is located between tacho and speedo within the binnacle directly ahead of the driver. This unit provides a huge range of data, from fuel use to torque distribution to tyre pressure. It also doubles as an Around View Monitor for the driver to see what’s going on all around the vehicle on a full 360 degree view while moving.
The new Ti is a joy to drive thanks its really useful features and genuine luxury all round. From the outset I was impressed with the new 2WD model’s interior. There were neatly trimmed leather accents on seats and side areas blended with the subdued grey of the main interior areas, while a bit of faux woodgrain here and there hinted at luxury without overdoing things.
Up front the dash layout was practical and easily understood. Prominent was the 8” colour LCD display with its many functions including a sat nav system.
When you’re seated behind the electronically adjusted steering wheel, you’ll immediately notice just how big the Pathfinder is. A tape measure revealed that it’s wider in the interior than the current diesel 3L Patrol wagon, and there’s also huge amounts of second and third row seating and headroom.
Nissan has addressed one of the bugbears of 7-seaters: climbing into that third row of seats, which can be a trying business for the agility challenged. In the new Pathfinder you simply activate a lever on the second row seating, and the seat will slide forward and upwards to allow free access for even adult sized passengers. The third row of seats also recline.
Next comes carrying capacity, and it’s in no short supply. Seating options are for 2, 3, 5 or 7 seats, with the unused seats folding completely flat. The second row seating splits in a 60/40 mode, the third a 50/50 configuration and with all seats down and out of the way there’s a whopping 2259L cargo area available. Towing is very good too, with a 2700kg rating for a braked trailer.
So there we have it: bigger and with plenty of variable luggage space and lots of tow capacity.
So how does it drive?
This big wagon has a fuel injected 3.5L V6 turning out 190kW of power and 325Nm of torque. When linked to a very smooth and responsive Constant Variable Transmission unit you get effortless departure from traffic lights, seamless overtaking at all highway speeds, and all the power required for towing.
The ride is much more refined than the previous model, with multi-link suspension offering car-like road manners. I noticed only a slight bit of body roll in really tight corners when I took them at a brisk pace.
Steering is very light and very accurate. The ride was virtually silent from start to finish. Fuel economy from the petrol V6 was 11.6L per 100km for a mix of country and city driving. In all, it’s a very easy vehicle for long runs.
The Pathfinder Mark 4 is a radical departure from what we have become accustomed to, but the 7-seater wagon still offers a lot of vehicle for the money. There’s a smart choice of 2WD or 4WD and many new features right across the range that lift it to a quite high level of refinement.
The price of the Ti as reviewed was $60,790. The warranty is 3 years or 100,000 km there’s also 3 years roadside assist plus 6 years capped price servicing.Reads: 1421