Words and photos by: Jimmy Mak
Softer than ever before the new Pathfinder is on its 4th generation, and it certainly has shifted its focus throughout the years. Previously the truck has always been the rough and ready type, however as the market evolves there are far fewer people looking for genuine off-roaders.
The current generation Pathfinder was first introduced back in 2013 with small increments of power and refinement throughout the years. It’s ready to show the market that the Pathfinder name is here to stay.
In the crowded world of 3-row crossovers, there’s a lot of key players. The Honda Pilot is the all rounder while the Mazda CX-9 is the sporty, fun to drive choice. Looking at the brochure, it seems that the Pathfinder is aimed at fuel efficient and low starting cost rather than anything else. The tester we have here is the top of the line Platinum model with all the bells and whistles and it comes to $51,093 with the optional three coat paint and destination charges. At this price, it undercuts the Pilot by $2500, the CX-9 by $1300, but still priced higher than the fully equipped Hyundai Santa-Fe XL. However, one thing it does well above others is towing capacity. While most 3-row crossovers out there can carry 5000lbs the Pathfinder’s grunt can help it pull up to 6000lbs.
The inside of the Pathfinder is as pretty straightforward. It lacks the new age feel that’s found in some of its competitors. That being said it’s not all bad, the system while dated it’s simple and easy to use. Materials found throughout the cabin is lined with soft silky leather which brings the question why does the QX60 exist when it’s based on the same platform.
The centre stack while layered with buttons is pretty easy to use. The upper nest of switches is used to control all the different options on the screen. Also, the rotary knob can be used to change between items in the menus. The only problem is this rotary knob is recessed into the dash so using the controller can be difficult.
Speaking of hard to use controls there are these little knobs. These are the heated and ventilated seat controls; they’re the smallest rotary knobs on the centre console with a tiny illuminated light to let you know where the setting is. Users have to look down at the console for a decent amount of time before they can figure out exactly which position the seats are at.
Seats-wise the Pathfinder has one of the softer seating surfaces found in crossovers. They have a pillowy effect on them causing occupants to fall asleep easily. Which of course is great for the passengers but maybe not so much for the driver.
For the 2nd row, the Pathfinder has these very easy to use sliding seats allowing ingress of the 3rd row easier. Best yet these seats will still work with bulky child seats in place. A thing to note is the floor of the vehicle. Unlike most unibody crossover the Pathfinder has a relatively high load floor. A quick look underneath reveals the gas tank is pancaked on to the bottom of the passenger area and to minimize any damage they tucked it higher than usual causing a lifted load floor.
But while legroom may be cramped, they still get the open air feel thanks to the glass roof above the 2nd and 3rd row. There’s even a dedicated in-car entertainment system with two screens behind the 1st row for the passengers to enjoy. DVD player, HDMI input it’s all there. For the kids, there are even USB ports to charge your smartphones.
Regarding practicality, the Pathfinder can fold all the seats down for longer items. The load floor is higher than some, but it’s still plenty of space for the usual needs.
Within the floor behind the 3rd row houses the Bose Subwoofer and a large area where nicknacks can be stowed hidden from view.
Driving the Pathfinder, it’s aimed at comfort rather than sport. The ride is cushy, and the noise is muted. However, with a cushy ride, it also translates to more body roll than liked.
Puffing nicely along is Nissan’s tried and tested 3.5L v6 with a power bump back in 2017 it now makes 284hp and 259lb-ft of torque. Mated to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT transmission, it’s nothing but silky smooth power delivery. Getting the 41024lb SUV moving is effortless, the transmission keeps the engine at a low hum allowing for better fuel economy.
Unlike many others, the Pathfinder has a selectable dial on the centre console to allow the SUV to either work in 2WD or 4WD. By leaving it in 2WD it does help fuel consumption, in the city, it averages about 13L/100km and about 10L/100km on the highway. This does beat out some of its competition. So maybe there is some use to this little knob than first thought.
When going gets tougher terrains, there’s even a full 50/50 torque split lock as well as hill descent control but looking at the majority of Pathfinders buyers I highly doubt these options will ever get used.
Overall the Nissan Pathfinder gives the occupants a soft ride and enough performance that one would ask for in an SUV. The only downfall is the interior is a bit dated by now. The competition is stiff in this market, with so many excellent choices a good one just isn’t good enough.
Thank you, Nissan Canada for the week with Pathfinder