Cathy Parker looks at the Pathfinder and finds big is good.
First impressions – this is a big SUV, I drive a large SUV model most days (Kia Sorento) but the Pathfinder is larger in every dimension and feels it both externally and internally. Internally there is just more space for driver, passengers and luggage, aided by the Pathfinders EZ-Flex seating technology where the second row seats are mounted on tracks so you can adjust the second and third row leg room and slide for easier access, the second row seats are split 1/3 to 2/3 and the backs both tilt forward and recline flat whilst the base also folds up giving a myriad of possibilities for load carrying with up to 2260 litre capacity with both rows of seats folded (about 10% more than my car).
Externally the Pathfinder is 5.04m long, which was a squeeze in my garage, but once on the road you don’t notice the size. Another instant first impression was that this was a petrol vehicle in a class that for a long time was dominated by diesels but where petrol is making a bit of a comeback after some of the publicity around diesel emissions, whilst I love diesels there is a refreshing quality to a petrol engine with its willingness to rev and the easier power delivery from the 205kW engine making for effortless driving.
We had the top spec Ti model which is festooned with creature comforts and smart safety technology not available on lesser models including; intelligent cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, intelligent emergency braking with forward collision warning and blind spot warning. Climate controlled (heated and cooled) seats, motion activated power rear tailgate, a huge panoramic sunroof and the most impressive feature if you have children or regularly carry rear seat passengers is the Tri-Zone entertainment system that adds two screens in the rear of the driver and passenger headrests which can show different programmes along with wireless headphones allowing the driver to still listen to standard audio in the front while the kids watch movies or play games in the back. The main system is pretty comprehensive with an 8-inch touch screen and the usual reversing camera, phone and Bluetooth streaming, navigation and audio, although there is no CarPlay or Android Auto which is a bit surprising given the price point of the vehicle ($69,990). Other features common to all models include roof rails, power driver’s seat, tyre pressure monitoring, auto headlights and hill start assist.
The seats were very comfortable with good side support and adjustment and I liked that the seat heaters stayed on when you stopped the car then restarted, rather than defaulting to off. The seats and trim were attractive but the overall appearance was let down by a rather fussy and dated centre stack layout for the screen and climate sections which looked and felt a bit old school whilst the audio and main dash were well designed and high-tech. I did especially like the adjustable drive-assist display between the speedo and tacho on the dash where you could have a variety of information which you could choose around range and fuel, tyre pressures, etc. The phone integration was a bit less impressive with some issues pairing and streaming audio (to stream a podcast, I had to use USB which then broke the phone integration).
On road as mentioned above the power delivery from the petrol V6 was a delight and the CVT transmission worked seamlessly with the D-step logic control meaning it felt very similar to a conventional automatic. The ride was very good even on rougher roads and the handling was as expected from a large SUV- not a sports car but very competent.
So if you want a big to large SUV then the Pathfinder is a good option, the biggest plus is the capacity and the very clever rear seating arrangement.
Body type 5 door SUV
Engine type Petrol V6
Engine capacity 3.5-litre
Max power 202kW @6400rpm
Max torque 340 Nm@4800rpm
l/100km (Combined) 10.1 l/100km
C02 emissions 230 gm/km
Boot capacity 453/1354/2260 l
Spare tyre Space saver
ANCAP rating 5 Star