Earlier in 2010, Nissan updated its Pathfinder range with some subtle exterior and interior refinements and a more powerful 2.5 litre turbo-diesel engine.
The ST-L model sits in the middle of the Pathfinder range. Roomy and versatile, it comes well-equipped for families with 'active' lifestyles.
- Quality: Cabin plastics are hard wearing and feel durable; our tester was rattle-free both on and off road.
- Comfort: The leather-trimmed front seats are comfortable on-road, but prove slippery off-roading. The second-row bench is quite flat in both the squab and backrest. On the plus side, the third-row seats have enough legroom for smaller adults and teens.
- Equipment: The Pathfinder ST-L gets leather seating (heated and power-adjustable up front), an iPod-compatible 6-CD stereo system, Bluetooth, a trip computer, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, foglamps, 17-inch alloys and reverse parking sensors.
- Storage: There's enough room for the weekly shop with the third row raised and plenty of space for a large pram with the third row seats stowed. The second row seatbacks fold flush with the boot floor, accommodating a huge amount of cargo.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: The extra power and torque of the new 2.5 litre turbo-diesel is immediately noticeable on the road. It has no trouble keeping the 2.1-tonne Pathfinder moving.
The automatic gearbox is a good unit too, with minimal gear-shuffling on inclines and well chosen ratios. It also subtly blips the throttle to smooth out down-changes (a nice touch).
- Refinement: You'd expect a bit of engine clatter from a diesel, and the Pathfinder is no exception. Still, the cabin is reasonably well isolated and the Pathfinder's engine noise is not as intrusive as some of its competitors.
- Suspension: With independent suspension front and rear, the Pathfinder possesses good on-road handling and a comfortable ride. Steering effort is not excessive, and neither is its 11.9 metre turning circle.
- Braking: Ventilated disc brakes are fitted to both axles, and slow a fully-laden Pathfinder down. On gravel, the ABS calibration works well.
- Off-road: The Pathfinder's greatest off-road limitation is its independent suspension, which doesn't allow as much articulation as some other models in the segment.
On the plus side, the tractable diesel engine, dual-range transfer case, clever traction-control system and smooth automatic make the Pathfinder easy to pilot on rough trails.
- ANCAP rating: 4-Stars (pre-update model)
- Safety features: Standard on the ST-L are six airbags (front, front side and curtain), three-point seatbelts on all seats, ABS, EBD, stability control and traction control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: 5 year/130,000km vehicle warranty, and a 10 year/160,000km powertrain warranty.
- Service costs: Servicing costs are capped for the first 120,000km or six years. Before purchase contact your local Nissan dealer, as capped prices may vary.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Mitsubishi Challenger XLS ($56,390) - The Challenger's live-axle rear suspension gives more off-road wheel articulation than the Pathfinder – at the expense of on-road comfort – however its interior has less appeal and its engine has less power and torque. (See Challenger reviews)
Spec levels for the Challenger XLS far exceed the Pathfinder ST-L though, making the Mitsubishi a better value buy.
- Toyota Landcruiser Prado GXL ($64,400) - The Prado has outstanding off-road abilities, but feels barge-like to drive and is the heaviest of this bunch. It's down on power and torque compared to the Pathfinder, and, at the price, a poor value-for-money proposition. (See Prado reviews)
Note: prices are Manufacturer's List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you need a tough tow vehicle, it's hard to go past the Pathfinder. The Mitsubishi Challenger may offer better value and the Toyota Prado may have better resale prospects, but the gutsy Pathfinder can haul 500kg more than either.
It's a competent off road wagon that's also easy to live with in suburbia and, thanks to its versatile interior, can handle the school run as easily as a trip to the timber yard.