2018 Nissan Pathfinder Ti
Road Test Review
(4 / 5)
Remember the original Nissan Pathfinder? It started life as a Nissan Navara with a canopy. But over the years it morphed into a massive crossover, and as it did, it lost the qualities which made it so appealing.
Now, the Pathfinder can’t climb rocky trails, it can’t traverse rutted ground and instead, it has become a soft, bloated vehicle which is no better than a big version of the Rogue.
That’s why the Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner have taken over where the old Pathfinder left off.
But here’s the deal – do you really need to use your SUV to go off-road? Or is a jacked up people mover more of an appeal?
And that’s where the new Pathfinder fits in. It has seven seats, it has lots of space, and if you need all-wheel-drive, it has that, too. So you’re not just limited to tarmac, you can also do a bit of beach driving or driving in the snow if need be.
Add to that plenty of practical space and a decent build and the Pathfinder starts to make a lot more sense.
It’s all just in the way you view it. Sure, it’s not a looker like its little bro, the Nissan Qashqai, perhaps one of the most attractive crossovers on sale, however the front-end isn’t unattractive.
The Nissan grille hides the active cruise control sensor, while the body sides flow neatly from front to back. Add to that the big wheels and the whole package’s styling just works. Of course, it’s nicer again in person than on a screen.
Hop into the Pathfinder and everything looks very Nissan-like. So, there’s plenty of dark gray and only a few metal accents. The outboard air-vents are circular in shape while the infotainment controller (which is a panel with buttons that envelop a circle that has arrow buttons) sits in the center below the screen.
Now, the screen isn’t the highest resolution around and the satnav looks like it’s a generation old, but it actually works a lot better in practice.
We did have an issue with the trip meter, though. Not that it didn’t work, but the buttons are obscured by the steering wheel, so you can’t see it when seated. Unless you know they’re there, you’ll never find them. The ergonomics are sound, otherwise.
The front seats are electrically adjusted, and the steering (although not electric) adjusts for both reach and height. Yes, you can find a driving position suitable for all shapes and sizes in the Pathfinder.
We love the padding on the seats, the leather is soft and the presentation is excellent. But the bolstering is quite flat, so although not sporting, it’s easy to get in and out of.
Also, the second row has some of the best padding in the segment, unlike some vehicles which have a bench as hard as an ironing board. However, there’s a hidden trick that the Pathfinder has up its sleeve.
The majority of seven-seat SUVs only drop down the backrest and rear seat passengers have to be quite agile to get over that folded backrest to sit down. There are others where you slide the second row forward and try to slip in behind it.
The Pathfinder, though, allows you to unclip the seat base, fold it up, fold down the backrest and slide all of it hard up against the front seat. it makes getting in and out very, very easy indeed.
And because there’s a heap of room back there, the third row isn’t just for kids. Adults will happily fit, which makes a nice change for this segment, where it’s mostly suited for small teenagers.
And when the third row is stowed away, the cargo space is huge. In fact, you could sleep in there.
Open up the hood and you’ll find a VQ motor – Nissan’s 3.5-liter gasoline V6. That’s attached to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and with the two together the drivetrain is very smooth. It’s very quiet, too.
It’s also more fuel efficient than you’d expect for a crossover of this size, thanks to the CVT which keeps the engine in its torque band when needed but doesn’t keep revving when it doesn’t.
It may produce 284 horsepower, so not a massive amount of grunt (especially when there are no turbochargers), but it uses it properly. Yet, returning 23mpg is quite surprising for this big machine.
Get the big three-row SUV out on the road, and it’s more agile than you’d think. The Pathfinder may be quite bulky yet its suspension makes it handle like it’s far smaller.
Physics dictates you can only push so far, however it can be quite wieldy when required. Of course, you don’t want to make your passengers sick in the process, however for a vehicle which is basically a front-wheel-drive with the occasional help from the rear wheels, it never feels like there’s too much understeer.
Then, there’s the ride. It may seem like it’s a bit too firm, but break through the initial layer and it becomes very compliant. The wheels do transmit small bumps but deeper than that, the ride is very absorbent.
The Pathfinder’s steering has a good weight and feel, lightening up slightly at carpark speeds, and the brakes are very effective, too.
The Pathfinder is quite safe, too. With front collision warning, a lane departure alert, hill descent control, stability control, traction control and a suite of airbags, there’s all the active safety covered.
The safety rating is listed at five stars according to EuroNCAP, however this was scored in 2013. A retest today may yield a different result.
If you have a family with seven to carry around, sure you could opt for an MPV, but we reckon the Pathfinder is one of the better options out there.
Sure, it’s a big vehicle and those who love their four-wheel-drives will dismiss the Pathfinder as a pretender. But they’d be ignoring its positives.
With good driving manners, heaps of space, a practical interior and loads of comfort, it fits the brief.