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Nissan Pathfinder Ti 4WD 2018 off-road review

It’s a tight tussle for a slice of the red-hot seven-seater SUV market segment, and Nissan’s Pathfinder is still trying to gain a decent foothold there. 

Strange, because this is a big, smooth-driving, highly functional, family friendly wagon. Last year the Pathie was updated with a new V6 petrol engine, styling tweaks and new safety tech, but have any of those changes really bolstered the appeal of what has been a solid but overlooked model? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

We drove the Ti spec, which tops the three-model line-up above ST and ST-L. Price as tested for our vehicle was $72,923. 

The Ti comes with a lot of standard gear, including LED headlights with daytime running lights, heated and cooled front seats, heated door mirrors, black leather-accented seats and door trim, black leather-accented steering wheel and shift knob, 8.0-inch touchscreen colour display, tri-zone climate control, sunroofs, roof rails, 20-inch alloy wheels, a tri-zone entertainment system with wireless headphones, remote control, rear HDMI and USB ports for video playback, as well as a motion-activated tailgate with position memory and more. 

There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

This Pathfinder has the line-up’s new 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, which Nissan reckons produces more power (up from 190kW to 202kW at 6400rpm), more torque (up from 325Nm to 340Nm at 4800rpm) and reduced fuel consumption (down 0.2L/100km to 10.1L/100km) than the previous Pathfinder.

The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine produces 202kW/340Nm. The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine produces 202kW/340Nm.

Its transmission is what Nissan calls an 'Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission with D-step Logic Control'. It has seven programmed ratios and, in layman’s terms, this CVT is an improvement over previous versions.

This Ti is badged '4WD', and is described in Nissan’s official specs as having 'Intelligent 4x4 with Hill Descent Control'. It has also been described as an 'AWD'. Basically, the engine drives all four wheels through the CVT and the driver is also able to switch between drive modes – 2WD, Auto and a rear-diff Lock mode for low-speed (under 40km/h) off-road driving.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

You’d be forgiven for finding it difficult to tell any of the modern seven-seater SUVs apart, looks-wise, because their main purpose – moving families around – dictates their design. They have to be big, comfortable, roomy and functional, so their bulky looks perfectly reflect that.

The Pathfinder certainly has a real presence and it looks – and feels – big and commanding. The Pathfinder certainly has a real presence and it looks – and feels – big and commanding.

Don’t get me wrong; the Pathie certainly has a real presence and it looks – and feels – big and commanding, but there’s nothing about its design – or any seven-seater’s for that matter – that will truly set hearts racing.

Still, it looks good to me. You might love it or you might not rate it; take a look at the accompanying shots and make up your own mind.

How practical is the space inside?

The Ti’s interior has heaps of space and plenty of great tech and easy functionality for day-to-day life; from supportive and comfortable seating for front and second-row folks (the third-row is on the wrong side of hard and flat) to that tri-zone entertainment system, with head-rest screens and wireless headphones, as well as rear air vents.

The 8.0-inch touch-screen colour display up front is not the best in this segment but it works well enough.

The 8.0-inch touch-screen colour display up front is not the best in this segment but it works well enough. The 8.0-inch touch-screen colour display up front is not the best in this segment but it works well enough.

There are storage spaces all-round, including glove box, sunglass case, large door recesses, 10 cup-holders, 12V power outlets (three in the front and one in the rear cargo area), as well as four cargo tie-down points and four luggage hooks.

The third row, with 50/50 split-fold reclining seats, is simple enough to access once you’ve slid the second-row 60/40 split-fold seats forward and out of the way on floor rails (using Nissan’s nifty 'EZ Flex' seating system).

  • The Ti’s interior has heaps of space. The Ti’s interior has heaps of space.
  • Second-row seats are supportive and comfortable. Second-row seats are supportive and comfortable.
  • The third-row is on the wrong side of hard and flat. The third-row is on the wrong side of hard and flat.

As for cargo capacity, there is 453 litres (with second and third rows upright); 1354 litres (with second row upright and third row folded); and 2260 litres with the second and third rows folded flat.

There's 1354 litres of boot space with the second row seats upright. There's 1354 litres of boot space with the second row seats upright.

The Ti has a motion-activated tailgate with position memory, handy for when you’re doing a Ninja parent move (i.e. carrying a baby, and sporting equipment, and leading a dog on a leash, while trying to get six bags of groceries in the boot, all without dropping anything).

What's it like as a daily driver?

The Pathfinder is a big vehicle – 5042mm long (with a 2900mm wheelbase), 1960mm wide, 1768mm high – and it has a turning circle of 11.8m and a listed tare weight of 2070kg

Even though its steering is evenly weighted, the Nissan feels every bit of that bulk when you’re trying to manoeuvre it around town, through traffic or into a tight parking space. 

It is exactly during those urban-based driving scenarios that a driver aid such as Nissan’s 'Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection' comes in very handy. This system gives you a bird’s eye view of your vehicle’s position relative to everything else around it. Top stuff.

The Pathfinder has never been a lively drive – it’s adequate in every sense – but its new engine is a growling goer and at least this CVT doesn’t hold you back as other units tend to. 

For the driver, it is supremely comfortable with, among other things, power tilt/telescopic-adjustable steering column and seating adjustment and heating or cooling options. Head and legroom seems spacious enough, too.

Vision to the front, side or rear is clear and generous; the instrument panels are bright and easy to read.

Clearly this is a machine built for comfort not for speed, nor for spirited driving, so the Pathie’s suspension is more suited to open-road cruising than dirt-road tracks and fast, tight corners.

What's it like for touring?

Great, if your idea of touring doesn’t take you any further than gravel roads and fire trails in national parks, because that would be the sensible 'off-road' limit for this generation of Pathfinders.

As mentioned, this Ti is badged '4WD', has 'Intelligent 4x4 with Hill Descent Control' and has been described as an 'AWD'. It’s a big heavy, low-slung vehicle with only 181mm of ground clearance – 220mm is considered a good starting point – and it rides on 20-inch alloy wheels

This SUV is more suited to life in cityscapes and the suburbs than it is in the bush or on a beach somewhere – which is fine, because it does what it's designed for very well.

Sure, it has a rear-diff Lock mode, which is suitable for low-speed (under 40km/h) off-road driving, but that’s really aimed at maintaining a 50:50 torque split across the front and rear axles for safety reasons rather than tackling hard-core rock-crawling. 

If you plan to use the new Pathfinder as a dirt-road tourer, that’s fine, just don’t bite off more than you can chew off-road.

The Ti has a 2700kg maximum towing capacity; 750kg unbraked.

How much fuel does it consume?

The Pathfinder has a claimed fuel consumption of 10.1L/100km (combined). We recorded 12.8L/100km (city and highway driving); and 14.2L/100km (country back roads, gravel tracks and dirt roads).

It has a 73-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Ti has front, front-side and side curtain SRS airbags, vehicle dynamic control with traction control system, tyre-pressure-monitoring system, two ISOFIX points (right and left) in second row, three top-tether points in the second row, a tether point in the third row, rear cross traffic alert, forward-collision warning, AEB, blind-spot warning, rear parking sensors, rear-view camera and that Around View monitor system.

The Pathfinder line-up has a maximum five-star ANCAP rating as a result of testing in October 2013.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Pathfinder has a three year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist and capped-price servicing with scheduled visits every 12 months or 10,000km. Ti servicing will cost $991 for the first three years (or 30,000km) of ownership.

The Pathfinder’s recent raft of changes must have surely helped to push it closer to front of mind for some buyers seeking a solid, comfortable and safe seven-seater SUV for their families. 

Problem is, it’s a busy, highly competitive segment with numerous other appealing options on offer. 

The Pathfinder doesn’t so much set itself apart from the others, as it does its own thing really well – and Nissan is hoping more people will notice that. It’s not a serious off-roader by any means – neither are many of the current generation of city-biased SUVs – and it does cost a lot, but as a comfortable, family friendly work-and-weekend vehicle stacked with gear and safety tech, it’s difficult to totally disregard as a viable proposition.

What do you think of the 2018 Pathfinder – is it a decent Adventure mobile, or another same-samey SUV for the city? Tell us what you reckon in the comments below.

$40,888 - $64,777

Based on 36 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'