Nissan Pathfinder

Born in the USA, but plays on new chassis tune

ANDREW CHESTERTON

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Nissan Pathfinder Ti 4WD 3498cc V6 (60°), dohc, 24v 202kW @ 6400rpm 340Nm @ 4800rpm CVT automatic 2070kg 8.0sec (estimated) 10.1L/100km $66,190 Now

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

WHILE there’s no shortage of good things to have emerged from the USA (think the internet, Ken Block videos and all things ‘medicinal’), Nissan’s big and bloated Pathfinder wasn’t one of them.

The brand’s overhauled sevenseater arrived in Australia in 2013 promising much – having shifted from a body-on-frame design to a car-like monocoque – but failing to deliver. Our road-testers lamented a suspension tune so soft and American it was like its springs had been replaced with cans of Easy Cheese, an on-board entertainment system that lacked Bluetooth streaming, and vague steering that was slower than your average Trump voter.

The good news, then, is that this 2017 update addresses those issues and then some. Nissan has stiffened the suspension, modernised the in-cabin tech and safety equipment (including the addition of autonomous braking on all but the base model), and painting a handsome new face on the Pathfinder’s huge front end.

We unleashed the MY17 Pathy on roads that seemed custommade for the big Nissan – wide, smooth and sweeping tarmac surrounding the NSW snowies – and early signs were good. The new suspension set-up, including firmer spring and damper rates, and new rebound springs at the front, is firm enough to allow the occasional jolt to enter the cabin, but the trade-off is a heap more composure when tackling bends or changing direction quickly.

Even in the tighter and twistier stuff – the kind of corners that would have had the old Pathfinder listing like a posticeberg Titanic – this new model remains relatively calm, with only the high-pitched squeals from its tyres alerting you to the fact you’re probably pushing it a touch too hard. The steering feels quicker and more direct too, and while the wheel can jiggle in your hands over rough road surfaces, it does at least feel loosely connected to the road.

The V6, now 12kW and 15Nm more potent thanks to the adoption of direct fuel injection, is still a rolling love letter to the useable rev-range of a big atmo petrol engine, but you can expect to pay for that performance at the bowser. The unexciting petrolelectric hybrid will help, both with fuel bills and insomnia, swapping the bigger petrol for a less powerful supercharged fourcylinder unit paired with a 15kW electric motor.

The Pathfinder is still big, and feels it, and it remains off the pace when it comes to dynamics, but after a brief open-road spell we’re confident in reporting that the updates have set Nissan's big SUV on the path to pleasant ownership. nsomnia, charged fourwith ns n-eporting t

PLUS & MINUS

Dynamics off the pace; steering kickback; No AEB in base ST Strong V6; improved in-cabin tech; handling far less boat-like

Infotainment: are we there yet?

Any parent who has driven further than their own letterbox with the brats on board knows the value of distraction, and the updated Pathfinder adds some critical tech to maintain some decorum. Namely, the two seatback screens for secondrow passengers in top-spec versions, which are each able to play a different video. In addition, all versions get a Bluetooth-equipped 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, paired with six speakers in the entry ST grade, or 13-speaker Bose audio in the ST-L and Ti.