2024 Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD
Large SUV claims to be off-road capable, but works way better in range-topper Ti guise when specced as a seven-seater.
TAKES A HARD PASS ON DOWNSIZING
If Costco sold vehicles, its warehouse racking would be stacked to the purlins with cars like the Nissan Pathfinder. In recent years, the large SUV has stood as a monument to the fact that sometimes sheer quantity is the most important factor in choosing a new car, with cost a close second.
But it hasn’t always been that way. When it was introduced in 1985, the Pathfinder was a relatively capable two-door off-roader with body-on-frame construction and designed by the same guy who penned the 1968 Pontiac GTO.
Without turbo torque, the V6 needs to be revved to get the most meaningful performance
As it evolved, however, the Pathfinder slid further in a conservative direction, becoming a price-led ‘soft-roader’ with families as its majority audience.
For the fifth-generation model though, Nissan wants to rekindle some of that original sense of adventure and deliver a Pathfinder that can stand out from the large affordable SUV crowd rather than disappear into it.
It kicks off from $54,190 for the entry two-wheel drive ST, but as Nissan is pitching its new model as a more capable and adventurous iteration, we’re focusing here on the $70,030 high-spec Ti in all-wheel drive form (both prices before on-road costs).
There’s only one variant above it – the Ti-L at $80,227. Regardless of which version you might be interested in, each Pathfinder has the same driveline combination. The 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine is carried over, so the big powertrain news is a switch to a more traditional nine-speed automatic transmission which replaces the polarising CVT of the previous generation vehicle.
Even at entry level, the Pathfinder is impressively equipped, all versions treated to auto LED headlights, keyless entry and start, heated front seats, electric park brake, a comprehensive suite of safety and driver assistance systems, tri-zone air conditioning, a 10.8-inch head-up display, 9.0-inch central touchscreen and a further 7.0- inch digital display positioned between the driver’s dials. Opt for the Ti-L and this becomes a full 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
There’s also a whopping 12 cup holders plus six door bottle holders and seven seats for the top-spec Ti-L while all other variants get places for up to eight occupants.
Step up to the AWD-only ST-L ($61,790), however, and the Pathfinder gains ProPilot driver assistance system that Nissan describes as ‘semiautonomous’, Mud and Sand driving modes take the total to seven (along with hill descent control), the steering wheel is leather-wrapped, parking sensors are added to the front end and Nissan throws in a powered tailgate and remote engine start along with LED fog lights.
The Ti (available with front- or all-wheel drive) gets all that plus heated rear seats, part-leather upholstery, wireless device charging and wireless Apple CarPlay (although you’ll need to plug in for Android Auto), a 13-speaker audio system courtesy of Bose, and sunshades for the second-row seats. Finally, another fifth-generation model enhancement has revised the Pathfinder’s platform and underpinnings, which has increased the maximum braked towing capacity to a respectable 2700kg for all versions.
The Pathfinder’s cabin is predictably vast, with interior space growing over the fourth-gen model despite an overall length reduction of 38mm. A transmission tunnel is noticeably absent, boosting leg room for rear passengers, while rear doors that open to nearly 90 degrees make getting in and out a breeze.
Simplicity of access also applies to the third row thanks to the ‘EZ Flex’ system which allows the middle seat to be tilted and rolled forward with the touch of a button.
It is a clever solution that means third-row occupants no longer feel like prisoners until someone releases them. Yes, the third row does offer three seats but that would only really apply to very small people. That said, there is a surprising amount of room for two adults out back. Adding to the impressive comfort levels are roof-mounted vents, a USB charger and two cup holders per side.
There’s also masses of storage volume depending on the seat configuration. Capacity (VDA) is listed at 205 litres with all three rows in place, 554L with the third row folded, and a massive 2280L with only the front seats in place. An underfloor boot box boosts the storage options while the entire cabin is dotted with neat stowage options such as a little shelf in front of the front passenger and a flying centre console with yet more useful storage space located beneath.
With a somewhat conventional engine under its bonnet, the Pathfinder’s 202kW and 340Nm can be best described as adequate for this 2.0-tonne SUV. Without diesel or turbo-petrol torque, the 3.5-litre V6 needs to be revved to get the most meaningful performance, at which point the increased fuel consumption will likely give your bank balance a battering when you come to fill the 71-litre tank. The good news is that even though the engine remains only slightly evolved, the transmission bolted to it is a significant upgrade. Gone is the simple and cost-effective continuously variable transmission (CVT) and in its place is that more sophisticated nine-speed torque-converter auto.
While the new unit is doubtless an improvement over the droning and uninspiring CVT, it doesn’t quite live up to expectations, which is a little disappointing – especially as it’s supplied by auto authority ZF.
Gear changes are very smooth and torque efficiency feels equally as good but there’s something about the calibration that feels just a little half-baked. When more performance is required, the accelerator needs an unreasonably aggressive prod to prompt a kick-down, while regular shifting up and down through the ratios seems a little lazy at times. Either way, however, it’s still an improvement over the previous model, and you can pick gears manually with the paddle shifters.
As for the rest of the driving package, the Pathfinder feels neat and tidy on the road with enough steering involvement to partially conceal its weight and large SUV status, while the ride quality is another step up in Pathfinder evolution.
Road noise levels are generally low for occupants in the first and second rows, while comfort is improved over the previous model despite rolling on up to 20-inch wheels. Our pick is the 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to the ST-L, which gets surprisingly good Kumho Crugen HP71 rubber and boosts the ride quality even further still.
Should you find yourself away from the beaten track, the Pathfinder feels agreeably at home on unsealed surfaces, and a few kilometres navigating damp gravel brought its surefooted manners to the surface.
As part of Nissan’s bid to infuse the Pathfinder with a more adventurous spirit, seven modes are offered by the Drive and Terrain system. With the dial rotated round to Mud and Ruts, the traction and stability levels on potentially scary surfaces were admirable.
We would have loved to sample the Pathfinder’s true off-road ability but I guess that’ll have to wait for another day. It’s worth noting to families that do want to stray away from the beaten trail that the Pathfinder has a spacesaver spare wheel and not a full-size item most favoured by hardcore adventure seekers.
We did, however, get a chance to test the towing capability with a jet ski weighing close to the 750kg unbraked limit hooked up. While acceleration and braking performance were notably impacted, it’s clear the new Pathfinder has been engineered to tow and won’t break a sweat under the pressures of light hauling duties.
Quite how the atmo V6 would cope with the increased braked towing rate of 2700kg will also have to wait for more organised testing.
It wasn’t possible to run our own fuel use calculations during an action-packed local launch program but we certainly will once the new Pathfinder is on the Wheels test fleet in the near future. It’ll be illuminating.
Before that though, the ADR combined-cycle fuel economy figure makes for interesting reading. Nissan reports 10.0L/100km for two-wheel-drive versions and 10.5L/100km for the all-wheel drives.
With the addition of a new nine-speed auto and revised V6, many might have expected the fuel efficiency to have improved, but that doesn’t appear the case. The previous Pathfinder had a claimed figure of 9.9L/100km and 10.1L/100km respectively.
All versions of the Pathfinder are equipped with a generous level of safety equipment including forward collision warning and auto emergency braking which works with both pedestrians and cyclists, driver attention monitoring, blind-spot monitoring and assistance, lanedeparture warning and assistance, rear cross-traffic alert and braking, cruise control, speed limit recognition and tyre pressure monitoring.
Curtain airbags protect occupants in all three rows of seating, while seat side airbags are provided for the first and second rows along with a centre airbag between the front two seats.
While Nissan’s Pathfinder used to be one of the most cost-effective ways into large SUV life, the latest evolution is creeping north in pricing, especially at the pointier end of the line-up. Yes, there’s still the sub-$55K ST but with front-wheel drive and the least kit, Nissan says this is the variant very much targeting fleets.
It’s at the relatively premium end of the spectrum and the $70K Ti that Nissan expects the volume to exist, at least initially.
However, with the increase in pricing, the fifth-gen model does come with some notable enhancements to quality, technology and comfort. On the outside, the Pathfinder is looking like a tough all-terrain SUV and not the slightly daggy budget bus it once was, while a sea of screens lifts the comprehensively improved interior.
Coupled with a third row you genuinely can slot two adults into and clever practical touches throughout, the venerable Pathfinder is a welcome return for the Nissan family. And quite possibly yours...
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- Model 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Ti AWD
- Motors 3498cc V6 (900), dohc, 24v
- Max power 271bhp 202kW @ 6400rpm
- Max torque 250lb ft 340Nm @ 4800rpm
- Transmission 9-speed automatic
- Weight 2040kg
- 0-62mph 0-100km/h 9.5sec (estimated)
- Economy 10.5L/100km
- Price $70,030
- On sale Now
- PLUS + Generous space including third row; excellent ride; impressive standard safety features
- MINUS — V6 getting left behind by turbo rivals; slightly disappointing auto; no wireless Android Auto
This is the Ti-L model with the seven-seat (2-2-3) configuration