Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: April 28, 2016
True story: my father was a big fan of the Pathfinder. In fact, he almost bought one back in the late 90’s… up until he test drove it and realized how much of a gas guzzling pig it was. Instead, he opted for a 1999 Nissan Maxima which served him well until the entire car decided to fall apart from rust (big shout out to Canadian winters). Now, the point of this anecdote is that my father and I never quite saw eye to eye when it came to cars. He enjoys a smooth and quiet ride, while I love the fast and loud (read: furious) rides. Nissan’s Pathfinder was the one exception where both of us agreed.
We thought it looked manly, outdoorsy, and in retrospect, undoubtedly 90’s. In my head, the ideal buyer was rugged and portaged every weekend with his mates. Grizzly bears got them excited instead of scared. Now perhaps Nissan sold one too many of these cars and all the owners were attacked by those grizzly bears, like Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”, because someway somehow over the last 15 years, the Pathfinder lost its path-less-travelled attitude and wound up more refined, civilized, and found refuge in a mall parking lot.
My tester came dressed in Java Metallic brown paint, a colour that only adds to – if not completes – the “not here to offend” styling. Nissan provided the world with a radical offering a la the Juke. Some liked it some didn’t – but nobody argued that it looked different. The Pathfinder on the other hand felt like it was too big of a deal to muck up.
The result is an unobtrusive but rather bland looking SUV (especially when stacked against the new Murano). However, we don’t buy cars to stare at its outsides. Inside is where this mall lot crawler shines, and the Platinum trim represents the king of the proverbial Pathfinder hill. Armed with a set of 7-inch screens in the headrests and wireless headphones, the Pathfinder comes loaded with enough “anti-annoying children” gear to make Ice-Cube’s “Are We There Yet?” character foam at the mouth.
As for the adults, the Pathfinder doesn’t disappoint. Soft touch plastics and leather adorn the interior, but the faux wood trim is a bit cheesy and the touch-screen infotainment system looks like it came from an old 350Z. Despite the rather dated looking cabin, it is well made and feels solid. There are even a few design flairs that I enjoy. For example, the chrome trim surrounding the air vents make it look embossed into the dashboard, reminding me of modern day Jaguars.
Powering the big ute is Nissan’s venerable VQ series V6. The 3.5L pushes out 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque, all managed by Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. Never short of power in the city, the SUV actually yields some impressive immediacy when the throttle is tipped. And unlike the Rogue, the Pathfinder’s extra cabin insulation helps mute the whine from the CVT.
Yes, if you tax the motor, the unit still whines as it locks engine speed to around 4,000 rpm. But thankfully, few occasions require a big 2,095 kilo SUV to be at wide-open throttle, unless that grizzly decides that you might be a suitable appetizer.
Steering is feather light, and the electric rack lacks any semblance of road feel. You could be going through a mine field for heaven’s sake before you felt some steering feedback. Admittedly that’s not an issue isolated with Nissan – most manufacturers struggle with it too. If anything, the light steering just adds to the easy driving experience of the Pathfinder.
Despite its massive size, it handles like a much smaller SUV. Body roll is well controlled as is pitch and yaw, keeping those nauseous-prone passengers from ruining your leather seats.
Smack dab under the gear lever is the selection knob for Nissan’s Intuitive All Wheel Drive. It allows drivers the flexibility to choose between FWD (for maximum efficiency), Automatic (where the computer will automatically shuffle power to the rear), or AWD only. Those looking to skip the Intuitive AWD system are limited to only the S trim.
Customers looking to get any sort of options will have to pick an AWD model. Fear not, as you don’t have to go high into the product lineup to get what you need. The next level up (SV) adds a hefty amount of convenience features including a rear view camera, parking distance control, power lift gate, heated steering wheel, and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
The SL trim hits the sweet spot with an assortment of safety tech including blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The optional $3,200 tech package adds navigation, Bose audio, and Nissan’s “Around View Monitor”. The only difference in the Platinum trim then is the added DVD player for passengers in the back, 20-inch wheels, and climate controlled front seats.
Built for road trips, the Pathfinder even comes with third row seating as a standard option. As per usual, it is a row that’s best left for children… or that one troublesome family friend who is always super loud and annoying. While it may be easy to wield as a city vehicle, cruising the 400-series highways is where it excels.
It may not look eager to travel the unbeaten path, but it will strut along joyfully with you and six other passengers. Those who have watched the Pathfinder grow and mature over the last 15 years will be happy to know that it still a capable and reliable cruiser that excels as a well-rounded three-row SUV.
型号 Model: 2016 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum
顏色 Paint Type: Java Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $31,198
試車售價 Price as Tested: $46,998
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,900
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,008 / 1,960 / 1,768
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,095
引擎 Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 260 hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 240 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: CVT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 12.7 / 9.0
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P235/55R20