Toyota RAV4 VS Nissan Pathfinder
- Good safety gear
- Solid and dependable
- Roomy interior
- Poor media system
- Noisy diesel
- RAV4s are not cheap
- Stronger design
- Updated safety gear
- Better in-car technology
- AEB not standard on base model
- Still not as sharp as class leaders
- Fuel use in the V6 cracks double digits
You can't stand still, even if you're often number one on a car buyer's list and your name is Toyota. Reputation is hard-won and easily lost, and the Japanese company hasn't dropped the ball on that score. Toyota's huge and often top-selling range of SUVs has cemented it's place in the Australian motoring landscape.
The evergreen RAV4 recently enjoyed an upgrade to its specification for the MY18 version. The vast bulk of the MY18 upgrade is to do with the inclusion of a comprehensive list of safety gear to keep it in the ring with the all-conquering CX-5. It hardly needed it - the RAV consistently outsells younger, cheaper rivals with the exception of the Mazda.
With prices up on most models and down on a couple, it's time for a thorough review of the RAV4 range.
Read More: Toyota RAV4 Reviews
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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?
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The RAV4 remains a dependable medium SUV with a spacious interior, excellent build quality and a good range of features and options. It's also an expensive option when compared like-for-like against its main rivals from Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai and even Volkswagen. None of them have the pedigree or reputation of the Toyota and that's clearly worth money. But some of them will throw in floor mats.
The best of the RAV4s has to be GXL 2.5 petrol AWD. It tows the most, has the best specification level and is the most competitively-priced.
The RAV4 is almost the default choice in the medium SUV market. Where does it come on your list?
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.
The segment in which the RAV4 plays is filled with stylish cars, so Toyota has brought a more interesting styling language for its mid-sizer's exterior design. While not aggressive-looking and there's nothing in the way of a body kit or sport edition, each model has a tiny rear spoiler. Racy it isn't, but there's a clear theme emerging on Toyota SUVs from the C-HR to the Kluger.
The different models are distinguished by wheel designs and a bit more chrome and metallic finishes on the exterior.
The RAV4 is a five-door SUV hardtop (no soft top - sorry folks), with a good wide rear tailgate for access to the cargo area.
You can add a bit of ruggedness with a roof rack or side steps from the dealer accessory list. Extras like a bull bar or nudge bar will require you to look further afield, the same for a snorkel, different rims, wheel arch extensions and more comprehensive tool kit.
Where is the Toyota RAV4 built? Our supply comes from Japan.
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).
The RAV's interior dimensions are nothing to sneeze at. While size isn't everything in this segment, it certainly helps. Our interior photos illustrate a roomy cabin with good storage space for passengers and luggage capacity, with particularly good rear legroom.
The question of how many seats is easily answered - the RAV4 is a five-seater, there is no third row seat option. Passengers are well-looked after with places to put their things, with four cup holders, bottle holders in each door and on the GXL and Cruiser a decent sized front centre console. The glovebox easily swallows the owners manual.
The boot size is 550 litres. Dropping the seats obviously brings an increase in boot space dimensions and an increase in volume to 1760L. It's a big space once you remove the standard retractable cargo cover. If you trawl through the accessories list you can also add a rubber boot liner and cargo barrier and the roof is ripe for bike racks with roof rails on the GXL and Cruiser. You can have the dealer fit roof rails to the entry-level GX for a price.
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
There are three trim levels in the RAV4 range - GX, GXL and Cruiser - to which you can then choose fuel type, engine size and number of driven wheels.
How much is a Toyota RAV4? How big is the range? Does Toyota offer drive away pricing? Read on for the answers to these questions, with a price list, specification guide and model comparison from the bottom to the top of the range.
Common to all RAV4s is the 6.1-inch touchscreen which powers the multimedia and sound system, which includes DAB radio, CD player (but no CD changer or DVD player), six speakers (but no subwoofer) and basic smartphone integration via USB or Bluetooth, both iPhone and Android. It works, but the interface is very basic and only baby's fingers can accurately hit the tiny targets.
The media systems still doesn't feature Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but the GPS navigation system slightly cushions the blow of the sub-par infotainment.
The GX opens the range and is available with all three engines. Standard features include 17-inch steel wheels, automatic LED headlights (no HID, projector or xenons here), fog lamps, auto wipers, Bluetooth, remote central locking, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, push button start and daytime running lights.
There are five GXs: the 2.0 manual FWD at $29,450 (up $900) and the GX auto FWD at $31,490 (up $900), which is actually a CVT. Stepping up to the 2.5 auto will cost $34,490 (up $840) and is a proper auto. Another step is the 2.2-litre diesel, starting at $39,060 for the manual and finally the GX auto sells for $41,100 (both up a hefty $2350). More than $41,000 for a car with steel wheels strikes me as a little stiff.
The GXL picks up 18-inch alloy wheels (16 and 17 inch alloys wheels are not available), dual zone climate control (as opposed to the standard ac), smart key with keyless entry and start and privacy glass (a darker window tint on the rear windows).
You have a choice of three GXLs, all automatic - the 2.0 FWD CVT for $35,490 (up a modest $100), the 2.5 AWD is $38,490 (up an even more modest $40) and the 2.2 diesel AWD is $41,100 (again, a whopping $2350 increase).
The premium interior pack is available on the 2.0 GXL FWD and adds heated and power adjustable leather seats with two memory positions while maintaining all the good stuff from the rest of the range, including sat nav.
Step up to the Cruiser and you get what is effectively a GXL with the premium package on any of the available engine options plus different wheels, power tailgate and an 11-speaker JBL-branded stereo with MP3 compatibility. Available in just 2.5 petrol automatic for $44,490 (down $910) and 2.2 diesel for $50,500, the Cruiser escapes the MY18 diesel model price rises.
Toyota's website offers drive away pricing, but you'd be mad not to negotiate on those prices.
Not available are a panoramic sunroof, homelink, seat belt extender, heated steering wheel, or tonneau cover.
Across the range, you can choose from eight colours - Glacier White, Liquid Bronze, Hazel, Silver Sky, Graphite (a charcoal grey), Ink (very dark blue), Blue Gem and Atomic Rush (red).
If you pick the GXL or Cruiser, you have two more to choose from: Crystal Pearl (fancy white) and Peacock Black. Sadly, green is off the menu.
As there is a space-saver spare, Toyota does not supply a tyre repair kit. A steel full-size spare is available for $300, but won't match your alloy wheels if you have them.
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
The range has three engine options and a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains along with three gearbox types. Absent from the range are full EV, plug-in hybrid or LPG versions. Not all engines are available in all specification grades.
The two petrols are both four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engines and available with front wheel drive or AWD. There aren't that many turbo petrol options in this segment, so it's no surprise there isn't one in Toyota's line-up.
The 2.0-litre engine is available in manual or CVT and delivers 107kW and 187Nm. Its towing capacity is listed at 800kg for a braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.
If you want a bit more horsepower or just like a bigger engine size, the 2.5-litre engine is available only in AWD with the six-speed auto. The specifications sheet says it produces 132kW and 233Nm. The 2.5-litre's towing load capacity jumps by quite a lot, with a trailer ratings of 1500kg braked and unbraked at 750kg.
Finally, the 2.2-litre diesel knocks out 110kW and 340Nm. The diesel models are all-wheel drive only but are available in manual if you like a clutch, or a six-speed automatic for those lazy left-leggers out there.
The turbo-diesel, curiously, has less towing capability than the 2.5 petrol, with a 1200kg braked and 750kg unbraked rating. Usually the diesel vs petrol argument is settled on what you can drop on the tow bar, but not here.
Timing belt or chain? The diesel and petrol engines all have timing chains. Each RAV4's battery can be found under the bonnet but is easily accessible. Oil types differ by model, each with varying capacity.
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.
As there are so many drivetrains from which to choose, fuel consumption is a big question.
Claimed fuel economy on the 2.0-litre petrol is rated at 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle, 8.5L/100km for the 2.5 and the diesel is good for 6.7L/100km. If you want to flip that around, you'll get about 13km/L for the 2.0, 11.76km/L for the 2.5 and just under 15km/L on the diesel.
The fuel tank capacity is 60 litres in all variants.
In our testing, the eco mode doesn't do a great deal for the mileage.
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.
The RAV4 is a classic Toyota - well-built, solidly engineered but not particularly exciting to drive. Let's get the complaints out of the way first, because there aren't many.
Road noise is a little higher than on most of the competition, the former owner of the noise crown being the old Mazda CX-5. While it isn't hugely noisy, it isn't as quiet as most of its competitors. The diesel is a bit clattery around town and when you accelerate for, say, an overtake, it really lets you know what kind of fuel it is drinking.
It also took me a while to find a driving position I liked and the electric power steering is a bit inconsistent and hard to read. Lastly, it's not a lightweight, either, with kerb weights between 1465kg and 1635kg and gross vehicle weight between 2000kg (GX manual) 2280kg (Cruiser diesel auto).
There, that's the worst of it out of the way. In every other way, the RAV4 is an agreeable machine. While not fitted with off road tyres, its off road capabiliity is better than most of its rivals. Part of that is down to the centre diff lock (activated with a button) and a fairly traditional sort of all-wheel drive system.
Toyota does not quote a wading depth so proceed with care should attempt a water crossing.
The suspension can handle a fair bit of punishment and puts the car high in the air, with a ground clearance figure of 197mm. Front suspension is McPherson struts and the rear trailing arm double wishbones with coil springs, which is fairly advanced but mighty good for on-road manners and ride quality. Live rear axle fans will have to look at the Fortuner.
The turning radius is reasonably tight, resulting in a turning circle of 10.6m
None of the models are known for its 0 100 acceleration or top speed performance, but obviously it's not that kind of car. The 2.0-litre in either manual, CVT (FWD) or auto (AWD) form is never going to set the world alight and if you want to tow even a modest load, it's not for you.
Stepping up to the 2.5 petrol fixes the towing issue and, bizarrely, tows the most of any of them. It's a refined, unstressed unit and when matched with the unfussy six-speed automatic, is probably the most relaxed - if not cheapest to run - of the RAVs.
The turbo-diesel is punchy and economical but, ultimately, it would probably come down to range requirements - you won't have to fill up as often in the diesel but it is also the most accomplished on the highway. As mentioned, it's a little noisy and its figures aren't earth-shattering when viewed in comparison with Hyundai, Mazda and Volkswagen.
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.
The recent MY18 update brought with it a stack of safety features in additional to the seven airbags, ABS, stability control (VSC), traction control and brake assist.
All RAVs now come with Toyota Safety Sense which includes a basic lane assist technology in the form of lane departure warning. Safety Sense also adds auto high beam, forward collision warning and auto emergency braking (AEB).
The RAV4 GXL and Cruiser variants pick up a blind spot monitor system.
As far as park assist technology goes, you have reverse cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors depending on the model.
Your baby car seat can be fitted using the three top-tether anchor points or two ISOFIX points.
The RAV carries a five star ANCAP safety rating, the highest available.
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.
Toyota offers a standard three year/100,000km warranty, which will give you peace of mind should any problems or issues arise. Toyotas enjoy high reliability ratings and the RAV4 is no different, but should any defects or problems arise, the dealer network is extensive. An extended warranty is also available from dealers.
As for servicing, service cost is dependent on the model and capped price servicing is available, including labour, oil, fluids and some parts. Service intervals come in at six months or 10,000km. Servicing for the petrol-engined cars is capped at $180 per service and for the diesel at $240 per service.
Toyota offers a service called Express Maintenance at some dealers, which puts your car at the front of the queue to get it done while you wait.
Resale value is strong, with few common faults reported in the usual places. Occasional transmission issues or automatic transmission problems have been reported, but generally in older models before 2010. The same goes for power steering issues, but again, these appear on earlier versions of the car. A second hand RAV4 is rarely a bad buy when properly looked after and serviced.
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.