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Nissan softens the Pathfinder

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    The cabin is also more like a car, picking up Maxima-like controls while emphasising family-oriented storage spaces. Photo Gallery

The hard-hat appeal of Nissan's off-road savvy Pathfinder has been ditched.

Now the seven-seat wagon that capably pounded the outback as easily as cruise the city is being replaced by a sponge-cake version based on the Murano SUV and Maxima sedan.

Australia gets the fourth-generation Pathfinder late this year, more than 12 months after it went on sale in the US. The US gets only a 194kW 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and though Nissan Australia spokesman Peter Fadeyev can't reveal our final engine choices, it's likely we'd follow suit with this sole offering. “The engine line-up, along with Australian prices and specifications, will be announced closer to the time of Pathfinder's local release,” he says.

The problem may be the engine layout. The next Pathfinder is based on the Murano platform - also shared with the Maxima - which has a transverse-mounted engine, unlike the longitudal layout of the current model which also supports a turbo-diesel. No global Nissan market sells a transversely-mounted turbo-diesel engine in the Murano platform.

However, Nissan associate company Renault uses the platform with a 180kW/450Nm 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel (or 2-litre four-cylinder oiler) in the Korean-built Latitude sedan. The upcoming Pathfinder will come only with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and will no longer have a low-range transfer case.

Carsguide visited the Pathfinder on the Nissan stand at last week's Chicago motor show. It's longer, wider but considerably lower than the current model, while its 50mm wheelbase extension - now 2900mm - gives adult space in the third-row seat.

More cabin room comes because the intrusive ladder-frame platform is gone. The signature “invisible” rear door handles of the current model have been replaced with the more conventional door handles while the grille styling moves away from the truck-like look and will become more passenger-car in appearance.

The cabin is also more like a car, picking up Maxima-like controls while emphasising family-oriented storage spaces. The introduction of the soft-roader Pathfinder won't change the more workhorse ute version, the Navara, which will remain a diesel and retain the longitudal engine layout on a ladder-frame chassis.

Nissan Australia's Fadeyev also says we won't get the bigger Titan ute - a 5.7m long dual-cab or extended-cab model using a 5.6-litre petrol V8 or Cummins diesel - and instead will remain with the smaller Navara.

 

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