Toyota Kluger Grande AWD 2017 review
Toyota's Kluger is a wily thing. Well, it isn't. I'm not seeking to anthropomorphise a car, but its success is hard to explain if you look at its basic bang-for-buck proposition.
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Pathfinder. That's a rugged-sounding name, isn't it? It's a well-known name, too, having been a part of the furniture at Nissan for over three decades. The substance of the current (R52) model has been around since 2014 and introduced the big SUV to the idea of hybrid, with a novel supercharged four-cylinder and electric drivetrain. The rest of the range ran the petrol V6, like its arch-rival, the Toyota Kluger.
Nissan Australia has admitted disappointment with the Pathie's sales performance. It looks alright, is cheaper than its obvious rivals, but is outsold by Holden's centuries-old (in car years) Captiva. Punters bought more of the dying Ford Territory in 2016 than Nissan's big bruiser.
|Nissan Pathfinder 2017: Ti (4x2)|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The MY17 Pathfinder has a brand new schnozz to make it look a little more modern. It looked old at its 2014 launch, trying to look timeless, but instead looking gormless. New headlights and Nissan's corporate 'V Motion' grille make it a bit more 2017 than 1997.
It still looks huge, though, and there isn't much to say about the curves or the details because it's fairly generic. Only the Euros get it right at this size, but can't do this price.
The usual tweaks inside haven't fixed a busily-buttoned centre console which is an ergonomic challenge. Like its Kluger rival, there's nothing particularly interesting in here. With lots of space to cover, details would probably get lost in the expanse of interior panel work. As does the steering wheel, which appears lifted from a Pulsar.
Huge. Say it like Donald Trump. Yuuuuge. Unlike most of Trump's utterances, this is the truth - it's over five metres long. As a result, there's a ton of room in the cabin with space for odds, ends and cups. Lots of cups.
There are, of course, seven seats. The middle row splits 60/40 and has the ingenious 'EZ Flex' seat system that's as clever as its name isn't. Pull a lever on the side and the middle row's seat base flips up, the seatback tilts and it all slides forward for an easy step into the back row. Once you're in here, you can flip it back. If you haven't got enough space and don't mind robbing your fellow passengers of legroom, you can also slide and angle the middle row's seats.
The back row also reclines and is set off the floor a few centimetres. Anyone over 180-odd cm will have their knees in their face, but a short trip is bearable with the shallow footwell.
The software is typical Nissan - not all that flash but does the job.
In the boot, Nissan reckons you'll have 453 litres with all seats up (this doesn't feel like a VDA figure), 1354 with the rear seats stowed, and a huge 2260 litres with all back seats put away.
Front seat passengers score two cupholders and bottle holders in the doors, there are two more of each in the middle row and the third row has four places for cups to share between them. Ten cupholders, folks. Ten.
The Pathfinder Ti tops the range, starting at $62,190 for the front-wheel drive (FWD) and ending at $69,190 for the supercharged four-cylinder hybrid. In between is the all-wheel drive (AWD) Ti at $66,190, the car I spent the week with.
Standard inclusions are 20-inch alloy wheels, power everything (including steering column), three-zone climate control, around-view cameras, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, a comprehensive safety package, active cruise, LED daytime running lights and headlights, heated and cooled front seats, auto headlights and wipers, twin screen rear passenger entertainment system, fake leather interior (nothing wrong with that, seems very sturdy), power tailgate with motion activation, two sunroofs, a tyre inflation kit and a space saver spare.
The stereo's speaker count increases to 13 and run off the same 8.0-inch screen as the ST, with sat nav, Bluetooth and two USB ports. The software is typical Nissan - not all that flash but does the job. Insert standard whinge about Apple CarPlay and Android Auto missing in action. And at this price, where's the DAB radio?
As you can imagine, given both its US origins and price, the only option is premium paint at $495 (five of the seven colours will cost you). Ours was the 'Cayenne Red' which is beautiful.
Across the range, the Pathfinder comes with a 3.5-litre V6 petrol (unless you get the hybrid), producing 202kW and 340Nm. Whether two or four wheels are driven, you're going to find what Nissan calls 'Xtronic' and what we call a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
On AWD cars, Nissan fits an 'Intelligent 4x4' rotary dial on the console that lets you select two-wheel drive (2WD), auto (the computers think for themselves) or switch on the diff lock. There is also active hill descent control when you're out in the rough stuff.
Towing capacity is rated to 2700kg with a braked trailer and 750kg unbraked. It's worth noting the hybrid's braked capacity is down by over a ton.
The big beast misses out on stop-start and other cleverness to reduce consumption, something it again has in common with the Kluger and a number of other V6s in its class. Both are US-built, which also explains the lack of a diesel option. Yanks are virtually impervious to the torquey delights of the diesel.
Nissan claims 10.1L/100km on the combined cycle for the V6 AWD, a touch above the 2WD's 9.9L/100km. The fuel consumption figure is hard to decipher as it is presented as a graph on the centre screen and looks to be hovering around 13.0L/100km.
Better. Much, much better. My last drive of a Pathfinder was an R51 hybrid and it was like a row boat in a wave pool. Super-soft US Interstate highway-spec suspension meant plenty of wallowing and leaning in the corners, which was roundly unappreciated by passengers, although the straight-line ride was fine.
Things are much better now, with stiffer suspension all-round to provide the kind of dynamic performance Australians are more used to. While it won't out-corner a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Mazda CX-9, it's quieter and rides better than both, although the steering isn't as good. The ride seems better with the slightly tauter springs, so all up, the suspension changes are successful. If only the steering wasn't so artificially heavy.
The transmission responds well, too, behaving better than many CVTs on the market.
The V6 is a lovely, quiet thing and fans of a lazy big-banger will be right at home. The CVT auto is the only real blot on the drive - despite Nissan's long commitment to the rubber band (laudable, yes, appropriate, perhaps not), there's still no substitute for a proper transmission like the Kluger's eight-speeder.
Having said that, if you can live with the sudden jump in revs when you sink the right foot, you're probably going to appreciate the lower up-front buy price more than the intricate arguments for-and-against transmission types. The transmission responds well, too, behaving better than many CVTs on the market, but still no match for a good auto.
Actually, there is one other drama - the raked windscreen means the A pillar meets the bonnet in a spot you'd rather it didn't, making the car hard to place accurately in corners.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Ti has the usual six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls but also has around-view cameras, reverse cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, blind spot warning and auto emergency braking.
The middle row of seating features three top-tether anchorages plus two outboard ISOFIX points, and the third row also has a tether.
Nissan covers the Pathfinder with a three year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist for the duration.
Service intervals for the petrol are every 12 months or - weirdly - 10,000km. Better than the hybrid's six months/7,000km, though.
Nissan offers a program called 'Service Certainty', which maps out the cost of each service up to the 120,000km visit. Prices in April 2017 bounced around between $281 and $849 (tenth service). An extra charge of $32 for brake fluid applies when required.
Over the first five years you'll realistically be paying around $360/year for servicing if you do the average 15,000km. Nissan kind of knows that. Despite laying out the cost of 12 services, the program only applies for the first six years. That's a bit cheeky and fine-printy.
The Pathfinder might not be at the top of the seven-seat SUV buy list, which might be down to the R51 looking older than it was. There's not much wrong with the pricing (relatively speaking) and it's a more modern car than some that outsell it.
It's a bit of a head-scratcher, really - it has always been competent, roomy and quiet and with the MY17 changes applied, it's also a better drive and a safer one to boot. Will it remain the bridesmaid of the segment? Who knows. Buyers are a strange bunch.
|ST (4X2)||3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$22,990 – 31,990||2017 Nissan Pathfinder 2017 ST (4X2) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (4X4)||3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$24,950 – 32,990||2017 Nissan Pathfinder 2017 ST (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|ST Hybrid (4x2)||2.5L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO||$28,710 – 29,990||2017 Nissan Pathfinder 2017 ST Hybrid (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|ST N-Trek (4x4)||3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$22,300 – 30,250||2017 Nissan Pathfinder 2017 ST N-Trek (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|