A bold new design and larger cabin with up to eight seats are the highlights of the fifth-generation Nissan Pathfinder.
As before, the Pathfinder is more suburban warrior than off-road adventurer courtesy of its passenger car underpinnings but that hasn’t stopped Nissan positioning it as a step above rivals for when the going gets rough.
Nissan is hoping the American-influenced design – it’s also built in the US – and an infusion of additional tech and equipment will help the large three-row SUV muscle in on the space dominated by the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-9 and Hyundai Palisade.
As with that trio, the Pathfinder has space in spades. The new body is 15mm wider and 5mm taller than the outgoing model but 38mm has been shaved off its length, for easier parking.
There’s slightly more cabin space, with excellent middle-row head and leg room and a third row that welcomes adults.
Getting to that third-row is a snip, too. Simply press a button and the seat pivots and slides forward; it’s a lot easier than pulling levers and manually folding the seat. Back doors open wide to provide better access. There’s no shortage of storage space either, including 16 cupholders, many of which are incorporated into door pockets. The plastic storage area beneath the load floor is handy for beach gear.
One big selling point for the new Pathfinder is the potential to carry eight people, one more than most large SUVs. While the new Ti-L model – a top grade that’s new to the Pathfinder range – has a pair of middle-row captain’s chairs, the ST, ST-L and Ti all have a centre-row bench that matches the third row in accommodating three people. Only the left-hand seat in the back row has a top tether point, though.
Pricing starts at about $59,000 for the front-drive ST, which has 18-inch alloys, tri-zone ventilation, smart-key entry, heated front seats, tyre-pressure monitors, a quartet of USB ports and a 9-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The circa-$67,000 ST-L adds all-wheel drive, a surround-view monitor, front parking sensors, tinted windows, a power tailgate, remote engine starting and extra driver assistance tech.
The $71,500 Ti gives the choice between front-drive and AWD (the latter an additional $3200) and has heated rear seats, partial leather, side blinds, an auto-dimming rear mirror, wireless phone charging and an additional USB port in the third row.
But it’s not until the near $87,000 Ti-L AWD that the analog gauges make way for a fully digital driver display and a rear vision mirror that can act as a camera. Features that might be expected on other variants – rain-sensing wipers, power-adjusted passenger seats and a sunroof – also make an appearance, as do various trim changes to raise the cabin ambience. It also has plusher individual middle-row seats, ventilated front seats and 20-inch wheels. But the Ti-L has the same infotainment screen as other models, which looks underdone in the expanse of the Pathfinder cabin.
Beneath the skin is a familiar 3.5-litre V6 making 202kW and 340Nm, hooked up to a new nine-speed automatic. The new combination produces fractionally higher fuel use that is worse than its prime rivals at 10 litres per 100km for front-drive models and 10.5L/100km for AWDs – not ideal with fuel at $2 a litre.
At least the Pathfinder can lug heavy loads, with a 2700kg tow capacity that’s only a few hundred kilos short of the Toyota Prado’s.
The V6 is smooth and refined, too, complementing the well-hushed cabin.
Call on more performance and the gearbox gets busy ensuring the engine taps into its upper rev range, but it’s effective. Despite two tonnes to contend with, the independent suspension copes well, quickly calming the big body over bumps. It’s comfortable, too.
With extra space, a better executed cabin and strong towing credentials, the new Pathfinder should win friends in the seven/eight-seater SUV market.
Smooth, refined and better to drive, the Pathfinder now also tows more and can carry eight people. But it’s thirsty at a time when petrol is expensive.
NISSAN PATHFINDER Ti AWD
PRICE From about $71,500 drive-away
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5yrs/unlimited km, $4004 for 6 yrs/90,000km
SAFETY Nine airbags, auto emergency braking, rear auto braking, rear-cross traffic alert, lane-keep and blind-spot assist, speed sign recognition
ENGINE 3.5-litre V6, 202kW/340Nm
LUGGAGE 205-554 litres
Originally published as 2023 Nissan Pathfinder new car review
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