Drive – Nissan Pathfinder Ti 550 Review

11 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Nissan Pathfinder Ti 550 Review
Nissan Pathfinder

Cons

Costs a bomb

A handful to drive around town

Some seating compromises required

The current Pathfinder has not been the success Nissan had hoped for. Launched in 2005, its uncultured behaviour and presentation has met with strong criticism. However, late in life, a new, more refined, powerful, luxurious – and expensive – version of the mid-size four-wheel-drive wagon has arrived in Nissan showrooms.

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Price and equipment

Priced from $75,990 (plus on-road and dealer costs), the Barcelona-built Ti 550 is exactly $10,000 more than the ”standard” Ti.

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Its star attraction is a new 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. All other Pathfinders come with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel and a five-speed auto (or six-speed manual in lower grades).

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Developed with Nissan’s business partner, Renault, the engine produces 170kW and 550Nm, hence the ”550” in the name. By comparison, the big-selling Toyota Prado makes 127kW and 410Nm from its 3.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The Mitsubishi Pajero’s figures are 147kW/441Nm.

The 2.5-litre Pathfinder produces 140kW and 450Nm.

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The 550 beefs up standard equipment, too. A sunroof, an upgraded DVD player and nine-speaker Bose audio are the big-ticket items. Towing capacity also adds 500 kilograms to a hefty 3500 kilograms.

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Equipment it shares with the 2.5 Ti includes three rows of seating, leather trim, powered and heated front seats with driver’s position memory, sat-nav, Bluetooth, iPod and USB connectivity, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and xenon headlights. Safety equipment includes curtain airbags that extend all the way to the third row, as well as front and front-side airbags and stability control. A left-hand-drive Pathfinder scored four stars in a European crash test, because of marginal leg protection for the driver and front-seat passenger.

Under the bonnet

The new engine has a rare 65-degree vee angle, a stiff compacted graphite iron block, high-pressure 1800-bar Bosch common-rail direct fuel injection with piezo injectors, a single large turbocharger and an intercooler.

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It’s a fine engine. There is little evidence of the clatter or lag that is a problem for some diesels.

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It never feels short of urge but the 2200-kilogram-plus weight means it never feels outstandingly quick, either. It combines well with its seven-speed auto, which never displays any ill temperament.

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Nissan claims average fuel use of 9.3 litres per 100 kilometres for the Ti 550 – higher than for either the Prado or Pajero. We returned 9.5L/100km, although many kilometres were completed on freeways or highways rather than in town. The Ti 550 achieves the Euro 5 emissions standard and has a diesel-particulate filter.

How it drives

While the Pathfinder’s long-travel suspension and big wheels deal with individual holes and corruptions quite well, small bumps and stutters can upset it, even jiggling the rear end around on rough corners. But it does handle better than the average 4WD – not high praise, unfortunately. The steering is quite accurate, albeit low-geared and feel-free.

Nissan Pathfinder

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The Ti 550 dealt easily with the gravel tracks we subjected it to. Both on and off-road, the dial-adjustable All-Mode 4×4 system could be felt shuttling torque to the appropriate wheels. Ladder-frame construction helps keep the cabin quiet, certainly more hushed than a Pajero.

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Around town, the Pathfinder is a handful because of its bulk and slow steering. Big pillars over the driver’s shoulder create sizeable blind spots.

Comfort and practicality

Interior space is a major Pathfinder asset. Split-fold the rear seats flat (both row two and three do this) and an adult can stretch out and have a sleep. A mountain bike fits (although not at the same time) without removing the front wheel.

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There are deficiencies: the driver’s seat doesn’t slide back far enough for those with long legs, while row two has a short seat base and a knees-up seating position because of the traditional 4WD ladder-frame construction. Row three is definitely children only. They will have no problem entering or exiting and have cupholders and storage.

With the third row in place, there is still space for a few shopping bags.

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Row two includes airconditioning controls and vents in the roof, as well as multiple storage options.

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Up front the Pathfinder Ti 550’s materials quality and presentation is a dramatic improvement from the scratchy and cheap early examples of this generation. The steering wheel does not adjust for reach but the big seat is comfy and has a commanding view. Controls are orthodox and mostly sensible.

But it is a long reach for the driver to the audio off button.

Competitors

Land Rover Discovery 4 TDV6

Nissan Pathfinder
Nissan Pathfinder
Nissan Pathfinder
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