Nissan Pathfinder 2019 ti (4wd)

2019 Nissan Pathfinder Ti 4WD review

Rating: 7.3
$49,490 $58,850 Dealer
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It's not what you'd call inspiring, but the Nissan Pathfinder has oodles of space on board.
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The world has changed a lot since the first Nissan Pathfinder was revealed in 1986. Bob Hawke was three years into his (almost) nine years as Prime Minister, You're The Voice topped the Australian singles chart, and Crocodile Dundee debuted in cinemas.

Since then we've had eight Prime Ministers, John Farnham has retired and returned eighteen times, and the Pathfinder has evolved from a simple off-roader into a road-biased seven-seat crossover.

It might have strayed from its original remit, but the Pathfinder is still an important cog in Nissan's range of SUVs. With no ute-based model to take on the Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X, the Pathfinder is the only full-sized seven-seater the brand has to woo family buyers.

Priced from $66,390 before on-road costs, the top-spec Ti AWD we have here isn't cheap. Power comes from a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine making 202kW and 340Nm mated with a CVT, put to all four wheels through a switchable all-wheel drive system.

Despite what the early-2000s ads told us, twisting the four-wheel drive dial doesn't change the view through the windshield. Not that the average buyer is likely to worry too much off-roading. This is a cushy family bus that'll live on the blacktop.

With that in mind, it's loaded with active safety and convenience features. It gets autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree surround-view monitor, and blind-spot monitoring.

This being the Ti, you also get plenty of creature comforts. The front seats are heated and electrically adjustable, the steering column adjusts electrically, and the outboard rear seats are heated as well.

There's an entertainment system in the back with a DVD player and plush headphones, too, which is an absolute blessing on road trips where the kids won't shut up. The Bose sound system packs a punch if that's your preferred way of drowning the kids out, too.

Although there's a long list of standard inclusions up front, the way it's all laid out is very 2010. The 8.0-inch infotainment system sits above a bank of buttons and switches shared with the Patrol and 370Z, and the rotary navigation controller on the transmission tunnel is essentially redundant given most things map-related can be operated from the touchscreen.

Despite a 2017 update, the 8.0-inch touchscreen lags behind the segment leaders. The graphics are basic at best, and it lacks the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology that's finally filtering through the Nissan range.

Although the cabin is a bit bland, the driving position is excellent, with plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel and driver's seat, and the seats themselves cradle passengers like a well-worn leather recliner.

Second-row passengers are well catered for with USB charge ports, 12V plugs, and air vents. The bench folds 60/40 and slides on rails, and the 'EZ Flex' system makes access to the third row a cinch. Although the seats themselves are fairly flat and hard, the Pathfinder offers acres of leg- and knee room for leggy passengers, even with taller drivers up front.

It's impressively spacious in the third row, too, where there's plenty of headroom and legroom for teenagers or shorter adults. With proper air vents in the pillars and roof, passengers in the 'back back' get a comfortable ride.

There's even a tether point for a child seat back there. Essentially, the Pathfinder offers more space for passengers than most seven-seat crossovers, although it still falls short of purpose-built people movers like the Honda Odyssey for outright practicality.

Speaking of which, the boot offers 473L of space with the third row up, 1354L with it folded, and a whopping 2260L with the second row flat. There's also space for bags or shopping with the third row raised, something few seven-seat SUVs can match.

Key to all this space is the Pathfinder's (not bad, good) size.

It's massive, measuring 5042mm long, 1960mm wide and 1766mm tall. That makes it 53mm longer and 44mm wider than a Holden Acadia, and 162mm longer and 35mm wider than the current Toyota Kluger.

It also dwarfs the Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Skoda Kodiaq, all of which compete with the Pathfinder by virtue of their seven-seat configurations.

Unfortunately, that 'bigness' means the Pathfinder can be a bit laborious to pilot in the city. The steering is slow (and heavy) at three turns lock-to-lock, and the car's tall windows and imperious driving position can't hide the fact it's a chunky family bus.

Power comes from a 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine pumping out 202kW and 340Nm, mated with a CVT transmission.

As you'd expect of a Nissan six, it's happy to rev and pulls strongly down low. It hauls the Pathfinder's not-inconsiderable 2046kg body around without really breaking a sweat. Refinement is good, with minimal wind and engine noise sneaking into the cabin at constant speeds.

In keeping with that general sense of refinement the car's ride is soft and floaty, with a focus on day-to-day comfort. It wallows around in the corners, but if you've wandered into the Pathfinder expecting a high-riding 370Z Nismo the problem isn't with Nissan, it's with you.

The CVT does a decent job holding the engine in its sweet spot, and mimics 'real gears' under light throttle inputs for a more natural feeling. Although the revs flare occasionally when you really bury the throttle, it's generally a pretty calm companion.

The main drawback with the 3.5-litre engine is its prodigious thirst. Nissan claims 10.1L/100km on the combined cycle, but we saw more than 15.0L/100km in inner-city driving, and 7.9L/100km on a sustained highway run.

Prepare for some hefty petrol bills if your Pathfinder lives in the urban jungle, or if you're planning to use anywhere near all the car's 2700kg tow rating.

Nissan does offer a hybrid-powered Pathfinder, which dumps the 3.5-litre engine for a supercharged 2.5-litre four and a 15kW electric motor. If economy is high on your list of priorities, it claims 8.5L/100km on the combined cycle.

Although this Ti 4WD has a four-wheel drive mode switch on the transmission tunnel, it isn't a proper off-roader. It runs with front-biased torque split in 'auto' (although a sliver of power is generally sent rearward under acceleration) and pure front-wheel drive locked in two-wheel drive, while flicking into 'four-wheel drive lock' forces a 50/50 torque split.

As we've said in previous reviews, it offers enough to get you down a muddy or snowy access road but can't match ute-based SUVs like the Isuzu MU-X and Ford Everest on anything more than a fire trail. Nissan Australia still doesn't have anything to offer in that segment, although it no doubt still wants the Terra we drove in the Philippines.

The Pathfinder is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and five years of roadside assistance. Maintenance takes place every 10,000km or 12 months and will cost $1802 including the brake fluid changes required every 24 months.

It isn't the sexiest SUV around, but the Pathfinder is undoubtedly fit for purpose.

With space for a growing family and a hard-wearing, comfortable interior, it's one of the most practical seven-seat crossovers on the market.

But there are better looking, nicer driving alternatives out there, and potential buyers will need to factor the Pathfinder's thirsty V6 engine into their long-term calculations.

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