Nissan Pathfinder

Most Innovative Pathfinder Ever


The Nissan Pathfinder has never had a consistent heritage. The first one arrived in 1986 as a 3-door compact 4×4 on a body-on-frame pickup chassis. Then the 5-door version arrived in 1990, where it was still a compact. The second-generation model ocame in 1996, where it moved up to the midsize category with a unibody frame as well as independent suspension. In 2006, the third-generation moved back to a body-on-frame construction, retained its independent suspension and grew in size to accommodate a cramped third-row seat. Now with the fourth generation, the 2013 model has gone back to a unibody, and back in step with the market to become a proper three-row crossover to compete with other crossover SUVs that sell better.

1st part intro:

While I've never supported the idea of SUVs losing their off road capabilities, the case for the new Pathfinder is hard to argue against. The market where Nissan Pathfinder is proving its strength includes large and midsize crossovers like the Toyota Highlander, Chevy Traverse, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, all of which were kicking the previous Pathfinder's butt in sales.

Driving Impressions
This will all change with the new Pathfinder. This last one which went on sale in February in the UAE has a remarkable engineering achievement in many aspects. After an adventurous sea-plane ride as part of the launch event, we landed in Khor Fakkan waters in time to see our Pathfinder's demo cars waiting for us on the beach with two gorgeous Nissan hostesses. The plan was to drive up to Oman Six Senses Zighy Bay resort, and then drive back all the way to Dubai.

Nissan's new crossover should do better then it elder sisters, though. It is longer, wider and 60% more rigid than the previous Pathfinder and comes with additional interior volume. It is 226 kg lighter with 35% better fuel economy combined with front-wheel drive, and leading in its class.

The Pathfinder is powered by a 254 hp 3.5 liter V6 with torque of 33.2kg-m/4400rpm, with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The engine is mated to a new-generation Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), apparently newer than the one even in Infiniti. While it still makes the engine wail at full throttle, it isn't really noticeable in casual city driving, and keeps the efficiency very good on the highway.

We took the Pathfinder on gravel as well, on the Rocky uphill-downhill mountain road entrance to the Six Sense Zighy Bay resort in Musandam, Oman, for the lunch. The Pathfinder managed the steep stone/gravel inclines just fine with the all-wheel-drive set to "auto", while the downhills were managed more with the brake-pedal rather than engine-braking, as the CVT's "L" mode only makes a minor difference in this vehicle. It has neither the low-range gearing nor the ground clearance for actual dune-bashing. Let not forget, the absence of the Tiptronic + and - gear changers.

Power was enough for the most parts, though you'll never feel a rush of acceleration when you suddenly pound on the pedal, but yet again this isn't a fast supercar. The engine is decently muffled, at least as well as the Infiniti, in wind and road noise. The Pathfinder rides smoothly enough with only the occasional shunt on rough surfaces, even with 20-inch alloys.

Front seats are a bit lumpy, though they seem like armchairs compared with the dreadful "zero-gravity" seats in the new Altima sedan, which we worried that would become Nissan's standard seats. The interior is a brighter place to be, particularly if you option for the dual-panorama moon-roof. The Pathfinder's seven-seat interior is sizeable but not as generous as the CX-9 or Traverse. The third row is better than the usual seat.

Thoughtful technology is also found throughout the all-new Pathfinder interior, starting with Nissan's advanced, class-exclusive Around View Monitor, which provides the driver a virtual 360-degree image of the area around the vehicle. The instrument panel includes Advanced Drive-Assist Display (standard on every model), features a 4.0-inch LCD colour display and utilises 3D-effect graphics to relay key information right in front of the driver. Of course, if you go for the base model, you'll lose some of it, as it doesn't even come with fog-lamps, although you still get to have the standard 3-zone A/C, hard-drive and smart-key start.

The Pathfinder handles corners like a pro car. In the moderate/fast speeding driving that I did, I didn't feel any real body roll on small roundabouts and harsh cornering. That changed when on the gravel, which was not a problem when you have the transmission lock on auto with 50/50 weight distribution. The driving position is great with excellent visibility for all surroundings, with pillars that are moderate but aren't as thick as the ones on the Ford Explorer.

The steering is light, but not excessively so, and even offers the tiniest bit of feel - again, remember that this is not a car, but an elegant yet hardcore SUV/Crossover. Even the brake pedal is linear, with acceptable stopping power.

Passengers in the back seats also enjoy their own optional headrest video displays (independently playable) and seat heating as well as temperature control. The driver's view is good through a highly raked windshield, but rearward visibility is limited by the Pathfinder's length and headrests. Four exterior cameras offering rear, side and bird's-eye views alleviate the problem, but maneuvering the Nissan in tight spaces is an odd task. The exterior video plays on an eight-inch display centered on the dash, which also renders the expected navigation, audio, climate, phone and vehicle info.

There is really nothing to complain about in this comfortable family cruiser, at least in terms of its driving capabilities. It is quite roomy, smooth and almost sporty with quiet cabin, and soaks up pretty well and tastefully appointed inside. You can surely drop by your nearest showroom in the GCC or Levant areas to get your quotation.

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