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Haval H9


Nissan Pathfinder

Summary

Haval H9

From almost the moment carmakers began popping up in China, we've talked of the soon-to-arrive boom in Chinese new-car sales in Australia.

They're coming, we said. And no, they're not much chop right now, but they'll get better and better and better, until they're one day giving the best from Japan and Korea a run for their money.

That was years ago now, and the truth is, they never really got good enough to seriously rattle any cages here in Oz. They inched closer, sure, but there was still a heap of daylight between them and the competition.

But we've just spent a week piloting the updated Haval H9 large SUV, and we can report that the gap hasn't just shrunk, it's near-enough vanished, the daylight reduced to a sliver in lots of important areas.

So is this the beginning of the Chinese revolution?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.1L/100km
Seating7 seats

Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan's seven seat Pathfinder has an image problem. Not so much that people think of it poorly. It's worse than that. People don't think of it at all.

In fact, Nissan reckons its family-hauling Pathfinder has been "flying under the radar" in Australia, and they're probably right. Shifting from a body-on-frame to a car-like monocoque set-up in 2013 has helped make the current Pathfinder the most popular released to date, but it hasn't exactly set the sales charts on fire. The big Nissan managed 5560 sales in 2016, only a handful more than Mazda's CX-9 sold, despite the latter only being on sale for the final six months of the year.

"Pathfinder frustrates us a little bit," admits Nissan Australia CEO, Richard Emery. "It doesn't get the credit if deserves. We think it's becoming something of a forgotten car."

So, in an effort to generate some noise and make it a little more memorable, Nissan's 2017 update delivers stiffer suspension at every wheel, more modern in-cabin tech and better safety equipment (including autonomous braking on all but the entry-level model). It looks better, too, with a new and rather handsome face that injects some much-needed style to the big and hulking Pathfinder.

So, do the changes mean the Pathfinder deserves a second (or first…) look?

Safety rating
Engine Type3.5L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency10L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Haval H97.1/10

The Haval H9 Ultra is proof that Chinese cars are at last living up to the hype. The value proposition is unbelievable, and a five-year warranty helps calm any ownership concerns. Is it bang-on against the competition? Not quite. Not yet. But you can be sure that other vehicles in the segment can feel the H9's hot breath on the back of their necks.

Would you consider a Haval, or do you still doubt the Chinese? Tell us in the comments below.


Nissan Pathfinder7.5/10

Better looks, better technology and better safety equipment make the Pathfinder well worth a second look if you're in the market for a good value seven seat hauler. The V6 is our pick for driver fun, but if the thought of fuel bills sends you spare, the hybrid might be right up your alley.

Does this upgrade put Nissan Pathfinder back in the seven seat SUV hunt? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Design

Haval H97/10

It's a big and slab-sided beast, the H9, and it's unlikely to win too many beauty contests. But then, few in this category do, or attempt to, and it looks tough and purposeful, which is probably more important.

Front on, it looks positively massive, with its giant and silver-slatted grille, huge headlights and a jumbo foglight perched like alien eyes in the furthest corners of the front end.

From the side, lashings of  silver (a touch too blingy for our tastes) break up an otherwise fairly bland profile, with the rubber-gripped sidesteps a nice touch. From the back, a large and largely unremarkable rear end is home to a massive, side-hinged boot opening, with the pull handle mounted to the far left.

It's not perfect in places, though, with some panels that don't quite match up, and more gaps between others than we'd like, but you have to look closely to notice.

Inside, the fit and finish is pretty good, with a giant faux-wood centre console home to a one-touch gear lever, an electric handbrake (a luxury still missing in some Japanese models) and most of the four-wheel-drive functions. The "eco" leather on the seats and the soft-touch dash are both nice under the touch, as is the steering wheel, and the second and third rows are pleasantly furnished, too.


Nissan Pathfinder7/10

Simple: it looks better that it did before. The 2017 redesign sees the front end reshaped to look more sleek and modern, helped by the LED DRLs, 'V-Motion' grille, and what Nissan calls "razor" turn signals integrated into the wing mirrors.

Inside, the cabin is spacious and airy, while the dash is still busy, but now far more modern.

Seven colours on offer - Caspian Blue, Brilliant Silver, Cayenne Red, Gun Metallic (dark grey), Ivory Pearl (white), Diamond Black, and Midnight Jade (green).

Practicality

Haval H98/10

Very practical, thanks for asking. It's a behemoth (4856m long, 1926mm wide and 1900mm high), so space is really no problem in the cabin.

Up front, there are the prerequisite brace of cupholders, mounted in a centre console so wide you could play football on it, and the seats are big and comfortable (and they'll give you a massage to boot). There is room in the front doors for bottles, and the infotainment, while a little slow and clunky, is easy to understand and operate.

Climb into the second row and there's heaps of space (both leg and headroom) for passengers, and you can, without doubt, fit three kids across the back. There is a storage net on the rear of each of the front seats, room for bottles in the doors and two more cupholders in the pulldown divider.

There's no shortage of niceties for backseat riders, too, with air vents and temperature controls and heated rear seats. And there are two ISOFIX points, one in each window seat.

Things aren't so luxurious for third-row passengers, with thin-and-hard seats mounted in cramped surrounds. But there are third-row vents and a cupholder for seats six and seven.

The side-hinged boot opens to reveal a laughably small storage space with the third row in place, but things improve considerably when you flatten (electronically, no less) the rear seats, with a gigantic storage area that will have your phone ringing hot every time one of your friends is moving house.


Nissan Pathfinder8/10

The Pathfinder is a big unit, and given that imposing size it's every bit as practical as you might expect.

Luggage load capacity specs might be a small 453 litres with the all seats in place, but that boot space number grows to 1354 litres with the third row of seating folded flat, and cargo capacity swells again to a massive 2260 litres with the second and third row folded down.

Towing capacity for an unbraked trailer is 750kg across the range, with braked trailer capacity jumping to a useable 2700kg for non-hybrid models, and 1650kg for the hybrids.

Elsewhere in the interior, front seat passengers share two straight-lined cupholders, with two USB charging points and an auxiliary in-line jack hidden in a centre-dash cubby hole. Second row passengers can control their own air-con temperature, and there's a cup holder in each rear door (and another two in the pull-down divider that operates the rear seats), plus room for bottles in the door pockets.

But the Pathfinder's true party trick is its 'EZ Flex' seating system, which maximises space inside and ensures climbing into the third row of seats is easy. For a start, the second row of seating is fitted on a slide rail, meaning you can prioritise space in the second or third row, depending on how many passengers you've got. Then the third-row seats also recline, making like back there a touch more comfortable. 

To get into the third row, the side-seat levers don't just fold the seatback forward, but also fold the seat cushion up as it slides forward, making climbing into row three very easy indeed, with Nissan claiming the widest entry point in the segment.

Turning radius is a not insubstantial 11.8m, so take care in the parking station.

A space saver spare tyre and repair kit are standard on all models.

Price and features

Haval H99/10

Let's be honest, Haval hasn't been around anywhere near long enough in Australia to sell on anything even resembling badge loyalty. So if it is any hope of increasing its 50-odd sales a month (March 2018), it knows it has to sweeten the pot on price.

And it doesn't get much sweeter than the $44,990 sticker glued to the H9 Ultra. That's about $10k cheaper than the cheapest Prado (and a staggering $40k cheaper than the most-expensive version), and the Ultra is absolutely swimming with kit for the money.

Outside, the alloy wheels are 18 inches, there are LED daytime running lights, front and rear fog lamps, dusk-sensing headlights with a follow-me-home function and standard roof rails.

Inside, the faux-leather seats are heated in the first two rows (and ventilated in the front), and there's even a massage function for the driver and passenger. The windows are powered, as is the fold-flat function for the third row, and there's a sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and aluminium pedals, too.

On the tech front, an 8.0-inch touchscreen (but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto) is paired with a 10-speaker stereo, and there is standard navigation, keyless entry and push-button start.

Finally, there's a heap of safety and off-roading kit, but we'll come back to that under our other sub-headings.


Nissan Pathfinder7/10

The 2017 Pathfinder range arrives in three cost and trim levels, the price list opens up with the entry-level ST, which is cheapest in front-wheel drive (2WD) (though, now $500 more expensive than it was) at $41,990. Opting for four-wheel drive (FWD) lifts that price to $45,490 while the two-wheel drive hybrid version will set you back $44,490. There is no rear-wheel drive only option.

The range them climbs to the mid-spec ST-L, which is $53,690 in 2WD configuration, $57,690 for the 4x4, and $60,690 as hybrid-powered 4WD.

The 2017 Pathfinder range reaches its peak with the top-tier Ti, available in 2WD ($62,190), 4WD ($66,190), and as a hybrid-equipped 4WD ($69,190). Every Pathfinder arrives with seven seats as standard.

There are extra standard features across the range, too. The entry-level ST is now equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen as standard, which pairs with a Bluetooth-equipped sound system with six speakers, radio and CD player. Cruise control is also standard fit, as is tri-zone climate control. Outside, expect manually levelled halogen headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels and privacy glass covering the second and third row, along with roof rails and LED daytime running lights. Inside, you'll find cloth seats but a leather-accented steering wheel and gear shift.

Step up to the ST-L trim and you'll add a panoramic sunroof, fog lights, heated wing mirrors, GPS sat-nav and welcome lighting, while your now leather seats are heated in the front and your stereo is upgraded to a Bose 13-speaker system.

Spring for the Ti and your alloy wheels grow to 20 inches, your auto-levelling headlights are now LED-quipped and your wing mirrors will auto-tilt when you're in reverse. Your heated and cooled front seats also get a memory function for the driver. Perhaps most importantly, though, you'll now find a screen embedded in the back of the driver and passenger seat headrests to keep your second-row passengers entertained.

But forget pairing your iPhone for Apple CarPlay or Android device for Android Auto, neither function is available on the Pathfinder. 

Engine & trans

Haval H96/10

It's like a diesel in disguise, this 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, making 180kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm at 1800rpm. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and drives all four wheels. That means a sprint to 100km/h of "just over 10 seconds” - about two seconds faster than the car it replaces.

Haval's All-Terrain Control System is also standard, meaning you can choose between six drive settings, including Sport, Mud or 4WD Low.


Nissan Pathfinder7/10

Two engine size options in the Pathfinder range, a V6 petrol and an electric motor-equipped hybrid. There is no possible petrol vs diesel debate here, mostly because this car is taken from Nissan's American fleet - a place where oil-burners are about as popular as gun control.

In terms of engine specs, the 3.5-litre V6 is a perky unit, generating 202kW/340Nm and offering a smooth and broad power delivery missing from smaller capacity engines.

It's paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic (no manual transmission option), but Nissan has built artificial steps into the gear mapping to simulate the changing of gears as per a conventional torque converter transmission.

The hybrid option is a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine partnered with a 15kW electric motor. It will produce a combined 188kW/330Nm, and is paired with the same CVT.

Rather than a timing belt, Nissan uses a chain on both engines for optimum durability.

Speaking of which, earlier, Spanish-built cars (pre-2009) did suffer problems, with complaints focusing on build quality and diesel engine oil leak issues. Other common faults related to clutch and brake wear, but later Thailand-built vehicles (including this one), have a deservedly higher quality reputation.

Fuel consumption

Haval H96/10

Haval reckons you'll get 10.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, with emissions a claimed 254g/km. The H9's 80-litre tank will only accept premium 95RON fuel, which is a shame.


Nissan Pathfinder7/10

When it comes to fuel consumption, this new Pathfinder is more fuel efficient than the outgoing model, but it's still not a particularly pretty picture in terms of the amount of gas consumed.

Of the V6 Nissan Pathfinder models, the 2WD versions deliver the best fuel economy, drinking a claimed/combined 9.9L/100km, though that climbs to 10.1L/100km if you opt for a 4WD.

Emissions are pegged at 230 grams per kilometre (2WD), and 234g/km (4WD).

The hybrid models lower those numbers to 8.6L/100km, and 8.7L/100km in the 4WD versions. Emissions are lower, too, now 200 and 202g/km respectively.

Fuel tank capacity is 73 litres for the V6 and Hybrid. 

Driving

Haval H97/10

We did a lot of kilometres in the Haval (perhaps subconsciously we were waiting for it to fall over), and over all sorts of road conditions, and it never skipped a beat.

The obvious standout is the ride, which is now very good, and disposes of CBD bumps and corrugations without fuss. At no stage does it feel dynamic or overly connected to the road, but it creates a comfortable disconnect that makes you feel you're floating above the ground. Not good for a performance car, sure, but it suits the character of the big Haval just fine.

The steering has a wafty vagueness, though, and it doesn't inspire confidence on anything twisty, with plenty of corrections when you're tackling something challenging.

The rolling delivery of power is surprisingly strong and smooth when you plant your foot. But there are downsides to a small turbocharged engine shoving the size of a block of flats around. For one, the engine has this staggering delay when you first plant your foot from a standstill - as though you're playing chess with the engine and it is figuring out its next move - before finally surging into life. It makes overtaking moves a heart-stopping challenge at times.

The petrol engine (which does a remarkable job of masquerading as a diesel) can feel a little rough and rugged when you really plant your foot, too, and you'll find all the useable power lurking at the low-end of the rev range. It is bloody comfortable, though. The vision is very good out of all windows, including the rear windscreen. And the gearbox is terrific, seamlessly and smoothly swapping cogs.

But... there were some electrical gremlins. For one, the proximity unlocking is the weirdest we've encountered - sometimes it works, other times its more complicated, and you need a textbook to figure out how it talks to the boot. The alarm went off twice despite me unlocking the doors, too. It might be some user error that I don't understand, but worth mentioning either way.


Nissan Pathfinder7/10

Not an off-road review this time around. Our test route didn't threaten this beast's healthy ground clearance or wading depth, and was largely limited to a fast and smooth succession of sweeping corners - roads the Pathfinder was destined to shine on - but there were a handful of tight and twisting bends on which to heap pressure on the big Nissan's suspension and grip.

All up, the early signs are positive. The new and firmer suspension has rebuilt the outgoing model's troubled relationship with the blacktop below it, and while it can send the occasional bump or rattle into the cabin, we reckon that's a price well worth paying for a far more confidence-inspiring drive experience.

Only when you decide to really push it, tackling tight turns with more gusto than the Pathfinder is ever likely to face, are you really reminded of the car's limitations, with a noticeable lean accompanied by a high-pitched whining from the tyres. The stiffer suspension has added speed to the steering, too, with Nissan claiming a seven per cent increase on the out-going model.

Still, the Nissan is a circa two tonne beast. In straight line performance it's not going to threaten 0-100km/h acceleration records, and its dynamics are still a touch off the pace in comparison to the segment leaders, but it's now a comfortable and confident way to guide yourself cross-country.

The 2017 Pathfinder is spacious, comfortable and now loaded with current technology. And if fuel use isn't a concern, the V6 engine offers up a smooth power delivery and an easy cruising speed that's available right across the rev range - a naturally aspirated joy that's something of a rarity these days.

 

Safety

Haval H97/10

The safety story starts with dual front and front-side airbags, as well as curtain bags that stretch across all three rows. You'll also find a revising camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors.

Happily, Haval has also embraced the newer technologies, so you'll get lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring.  Off-road, hill descent control is standard, and Haval claims a safe fording depth of 700mm.

The H9 received a four-star ANCAP crash rating when the outgoing model was tested in 2015.


Nissan Pathfinder9/10

Every Pathfinder arrives with a host of safety features including a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, reverse camera ('Around View' on Ti, but no park assist) and cruise control, which join six airbags (twin front, side and curtain), but springing for the ST-L or Ti trim now adds active cruise control, forward collision warning with AEB and rear cross-traffic alert.

There are three restraint anchorage points for child seats across the middle row seats , and one on the right-hand side of the thrid row. The two outer centre row seats positions are ISOFIX equipped.

The entire Pathfinder range was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested following its 2013 launch.

Ownership

Haval H97/10

Expect a five-year/100,000km warranty, with service intervals pegged at six months and 10,000km. Service costs are available at Haval dealerships, so be sure to check them out before you sign on the dotted line.


Nissan Pathfinder8/10

Every Pathfinder is covered by a three year/100,000km warranty, with 24-hour roadside assist offered throughout. Nissan Australia doesn't offer an extended warranty option. 

Petrol Pathfinders require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 10,000kms, while hybrid service intervals are shorter: six months or 7,000km.

Both models fall under Nissan's 'myNissan' menu-based service cost program, effectively a capped price servicing arrangement, with owners able to see what is required at each service ahead of their visit to the service centre.