The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder has received a range of mid-life updates and high-tech additions to its specification list. Among the changes are a significant performance increase to the popular 2.5-litre dCi turbo diesel; greater levels of passive safety; new equipment including an optional Nissan Premium Infotainment System with Sat-Nav and a premium Bose sound system; enhanced interior quality and a number of styling changes.
Let’s begin with the heart of the updated Pathfinder, the 2.5-litre diesel engine, which has been technically refined and endowed with even more power and torque.
The latest diesel technology and improvements of various components means power output rises by 14 kW to 140 kW while torque increases by a healthy 47 Nm to 450 Nm. Although the dCi unit already delivered great torque for its capacity, the revised engine manages better fuel economy and therefore improved emissions, thanks to the generous spread of torque available from low down in the rev range. Over the combined cycle Nissan claim the Pathfinder consumes only 8.5 l/100km – without trying, we managed 10.2 l/100km around town and 9.2 l/100km on the highway – while CO2 emissions have fallen by 40 g/km to 224 g/km.
What does all this mean in the real word? Well, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the Pathfinder 2.5 dCi cruises comfortably on the open road. You can get away with leaving the big SUV in 6th gear most of the time, dropping momentarily to 5th for the occasional over taking manoeuvre. Around town the manual transmission works well, offering an accurate gear change with solid shift action. Being a diesel with plenty of torque, you do find yourself juggling the gears frequently between stop streets and traffic lights. Although using the manual transmission is never a chore, the automatic gearbox would be better suited to town driving and the luxury of the Pathfinder.
The sheetmetal that clothes the engine has received a few minor changes, so minor in fact that you’d battle to see the difference at a glance. Changes at the front include a new bonnet, revised grille and a new bumper assembly. Adding 80 mm to the length of the new Pathfinder, the front bumper is more rounded and lends a more sporting touch to the car. Changes at the rear include a new bumper design with squared-off edges for a tougher appearance. A new ‘Blue Grey’ colour has also been added to the Nissan Pathfinder range for 2010.
Inside, the Pathfinder features revised switchgear including an easy to use, all-wheel drive command control switch, as well as illuminated wheel-mounted controls for a Bluetooth-connected phone and the audio system. Revised door-trim and a handy storage box in the centre console have also been added.
As expected from a luxury vehicle, the Pathfinder features leather covered seats – electronically adjustable and heated in the front. The rear bench seat has room for three, with a foldable centre armrest. Head and shoulder room is good throughout the cabin, although rear passengers commented on the high floor, which meant their knees were positioned higher than their waist, and the plank-like rear headrests that offer little in the way of comfort.
The Pathfinder offers ample cargo space of 515-litres, expandable to 2 091-litres with the rear seats folded flat. There are a couple of handy storage areas in the boot, complete with cargo nets to hold items in place. Remove the tatty looking cargo cover – it looks out of place in an otherwise premium interior – and a third row of seats can quickly be pulled into position from their otherwise horizontal pose.
From the driver’s seat, all manner of controls are easily accessible and readable. Manually adjustable lumbar support is present on the driver’s seat, however, the design is such that lower back support is already very good. Visibility is good whether using the mirrors or peering out of the windows, but when fitted with Nissan’s optional Premium Infotainment System with Sat-Nav, a rear-view parking camera displays a clear image on the dash-mounted colour screen. Speaking of which, the infotainment system is user-friendly, thanks to accessible buttons on the centre console, but also because of the touch-screen interface. The Bose sound system offers good quality and there is a stereo jack and USB-port for portable music devices.
Some of the Pathfinder’s other luxuries and conveniences include keyless access, sunroof, satellite controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, electrically adjustable and heated side mirrors with integrated courtesy lighting, and a two-memory driver seat position setting.
Nissan say the fit and finish of the latest Pathfinder has been improved. Overall we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the interior components and their tactility, however, we still experienced a persistent creaking from the air vents on either side of the centre console – an aspect of the cabin that stood out only because the rest is so well put together.
The Pathfinder uses Nissan’s F-Alpha platform, which is an all-steel ladder frame chassis. Independent double-wishbone suspension front and rear, along with coil over shock absorbers in front and multi-link with coil springs at the rear, give the Pathfinder a smooth ride that takes all but the biggest bumps in its stride. The power assisted steering follows inputs a little too enthusiastically and although at low speeds the added assistance makes light work of turning the 2.8-tonne SUV, at highway speeds a little more concentration is required to maintain your line.
The powerful 2.5-litre diesel engine is a pleasure to live with on longer journeys. Having 450 Nm of torque available means less pedal work for the driver, while the low revving nature of the diesel makes for a more relaxed driving experience. With a high centre of gravity and a solid build, the Nissan Pathfinder is not one for high-speed cornering and the tyres will quickly squeal in protest if you do. The ventilated disc brakes do an adequate job of slowing the hefty 4×4, but there are also numerous safety features to keep you and your occupants safe, such as: ABS; EBD; Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC); dual front airbags; curtain airbags; side airbags as well as side impact bars.
A big part of the Pathfinder’s appeal is its off-road and four-wheel drive capabilities. We took the Pathfinder to a popular Western Cape 4×4 route to put the luxury SUV through its paces. Thanks to the rotary dial in front of the gear stick, the Pathfinder is easy to setup traction-wise. Four drive modes are available: ’2WD’ that sends power to the rear wheels only; ‘Auto’ which manages power between the front and rear wheels through a range of 100% rear bias to 50% front-to-rear bias; ’4H’ which locks the differentials into 50/50 front-to-rear power split for loose surfaces and light off-roading; and finally ’4L’ mode that selects a low ratio for maximum traction in more extreme off-road conditions.
Our test route demanded the 4L setting, as well as lowering of tyre pressures, for added grip on the loose and rocky surface. With peak torque available from 2 000 r/min, we found the Pathfinder needed a bit of coaxing to climb steeper sections, while the side steps compromised ground clearance despite the car’s measured 232 mm and approach/departure angles of 30º/26º (degrees). The standard equipment Goodyear Wrangler tyres also struggled for grip on occasion, but they’re not designed for rugged off-road work and to their credit, are relatively quiet on-road. In a nutshell, the Pathfinder will take you off the beaten track in comfort, but if you’re looking to ‘find paths’ as the name suggests, you might need to exercise some caution depending on the conditions.
- Class leading performance from the diesel engine.
- Build quality.
- Touch-screen infotainment system.
We would like…
- Slimmer or no side steps for better ground clearance.
- Better lateral support and more substantial head restraints for rear passengers.
- More detailed maps on the Sat-Nav system.
- A one-touch close function for the driver’s side window (it goes down at one-touch, but not up).
|Base Price||R518 600|
|Warranty||3 year / Unlimited mileage|
|Service Plan||3 year / 90 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||2 488 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, in-line|
|Aspiration||Turbocharged with Intercooler|
|Power||140 kW @ 4 000 r/min|
|Torque||450 N.m @ 2 000 r/min|
|Drive type||Four-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 11 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||186 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||8.5 l/100km (claimed combined)|