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Nissan unveils production Pathfinder

Fuel-sipping petrol, but no diesel yet in sight for US-built Nissan Pathfinder


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6 Aug 2012

NISSAN has officially unveiled its fourth-generation Pathfinder seven-seat SUV in the United States, closely resembling the concept shown at Detroit show in January and with claimed class-leading fuel economy for its V6 petrol engine – but no diesel in sight.

As a US-built vehicle aimed primarily at the North American market, the Pathfinder is not being offered initially with a diesel engine and a question mark remains over whether it will ever get one in Australia, where SUV sales are increasingly diesel-biased.

Nissan Australia corporate communications general manager Jeff Fisher told GoAuto the local operation is not yet close to defining the Pathfinder’s specification, but ruled out a diesel engine from its late 2013 launch.

The new 194kW/325Nm 3.5-litre petrol V6 petrol engine has a significant fuel consumption benefit over the outgoing Pathfinder’s 4.0-litre unit, which consumes 13.5L/100km.

It has claimed combined fuel consumption of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres for front-wheel-drive variants and 11.2L/100km with 4x4, although these figures are yet to be ratified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Nissan Australia dropped the petrol engine from the Spain-sourced, current-generation Pathfinder in mid-2010 as Australia’s large-SUV segment swung in favour of torquey yet efficient turbo-diesels, and its European origins automatically lent it to diesel drivetrains.

Toyota’s popular Kluger remains petrol-only, and that has not stopped it from being Australia’s third-best-selling large SUV after the Prado and Ford Territory year-to-date – although 72 per cent of Territory sales are now for the diesel.

Mr Fisher described the Pathfinder’s fuel consumption as “pretty darn good” for a seven-seat petrol vehicle.

“One would then draw the question of who needs diesel in terms of the expense of diesel, the extra cost of putting diesel in your tank,” he said, adding that globally Renault-Nissan is looking into the sustainability of diesel as a global fuel.

The Kluger, which like the new Pathfinder uses a car-like monocoque construction rather than a truck-like body-on-frame design, is 0.3L/100km thirstier than the Nissan as a 4x2 and uses 0.4L/100km more fuel as a 4x4.

That is likely to change when Toyota launches its next-generation Kluger, which is expected to emerge next year and likely to be sourced for Australia from Toyota’s Princeton production facility in the US once Japanese production ends.

With its venerable Geelong-built 4.0-litre petrol six-cylinder exclusively available as a rear-drive 4x2, Ford Australia’s home-grown Territory consumes 0.1L/100km less than the front-drive Pathfinder, although it is a smaller vehicle that happens to occupy the same segment.

In both 4x2 and 4x4 guise, the new Pathfinder leads Japanese rivals like the 4x4-only Subaru Tribeca (11.6L/100km) and 4x2 Mazda CX-9 (11.0L/100km), while the 4x4 CX-9 matches the Nissan at 11.2L/100km.

Smaller, more efficient seven-seat, six-cylinder petrol offerings in the segment include the front-drive Hyundai Santa Fe (9.6L/100km), Kia Sorento (10.0L/100km) and 4x4 Holden Captiva 7 (10.1L/100km).

By moving away from the outgoing Pathfinder’s separate chassis construction, Nissan has reduced weight by 227kg and improved aerodynamics – both of which aid fuel efficiency – while improving interior space and enabling more upmarket styling.

Despite the new construction method, Nissan says the new Pathfinder maintains the outgoing vehicle’s “SUV ruggedness” and describes its styling as “adventure-ready”.

The automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) also aids efficiency and the selectable 4x4 system has selectable front-drive, automatic or all-wheel-drive modes, claimed to be a class-leading feature.

Also claimed to be class-leading are its 2268kg braked towing capacity, front headroom and front legroom.

Technology levels are up, with a customisable four-inch colour multi-function display between the instruments and a separate touchscreen in the dashboard for the navigation and infotainment functions, which can be hooked up to a premium 13-speaker Bose audio system.

There is also an ‘Around View’ 360-degree camera system and tyre pressure monitoring that automatically sounds the horn when the correct pressure is reached during inflation, both of which Nissan says are segment firsts.

Other gadgets include Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate-control, a reversing camera, remote engine start, a tri-zone entertainment system and dual-panel panoramic glass roof.

Nissan is also claiming a segment first for the Pathfinder’s reclining third-row seats and the 60/40 split, sliding second row – with class-leading 1400mm sliding range – that also enables easy access to the third row of seats even when a child seat is fitted.

Nissan North America vice-president and general manager of the Nissan division Al Castignetti said that, in addition to improved fuel efficiency, traditional SUV customers “still demand a vehicle that can do all the things they need, like carrying seven people, towing, and providing the surefootedness in all conditions of a four-wheel drive”.

“It’s fitting that a vehicle that tackles adventures in a whole new way also now looks the part,” he said.

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