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New Nissan Pathfinder returns to “rugged roots”

Nissan unveils its new-generation Pathfinder large SUV, now with seating for eight

5 Feb 2021

NISSAN has debuted its all-new Pathfinder large SUV and promised the big family hauler has “returned to its rugged roots” with a myriad of changes to the drivetrain, styling, interior packaging, underpinnings and technology, even if its 3.5-litre V6 heart has been carried over from the previous generation.


Said to have been reinvented from the ground up, the new Pathfinder sheds its predecessor’s rounded body shape in favour of a squarer, more Patrol-esque theme featuring a largely similar front fascia arrangement with the inverted trapezium grille being skirted on three sides by a chrome trim piece.


Either side of the grille are a slim, low-set set of LED headlights, crested by a pair of flicked daytime running lights whereas below there is actually very little of anything, lending the Pathfinder an almost chubby set of cheeks.


The lower half of the fascia meanwhile consists primarily of rugged looking cladding (black) and a contrasting silver plastic skidplate.


Included within the cladding – on the outer edges at least – are a small set of foglights.


From the side the Pathfinder follows most of the trends set by the other big seven- or eight-seater crossovers in having a long wheelbase, short front overhang and a longer rear overhang.


The main features of note in terms of body details include the black wheelarch cladding, chrome side skirt insert and the forward leaning C-pillar.


A character line can also be traced from the back of the headlight cluster, along the top of the front wings to below the wing mirrors before being continued from halfway along the rear door to the tail-light clusters.


At the rear we find a completely new tailgate design continuing the front end’s square theme with an abundance of white space.


Slim tail-lights are bridged underneath the rear window by a black trim piece with that arrangement then underlined by bold ‘PATHFINDER’ badging.


A subtle contour line provides the only other detail before we get to the contrasting silver bumper which looks to have been designed as a mix between a rear skidplate and a diffuser.


As alluded to earlier, the new Pathfinder is available (Stateside at least) in both seven- and eight-seat guise with the seven-seater utilising the trendy captain’s chair layout for the second row while the third row uses a three-seat bench.


The cabin itself is said to follow an “open” and “robust” design with buttons aplenty on the centre fascia underneath the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system while the centre console is largely reserved for the gear-lever, cupholders and terrain mode selector.


While the local pricing and specification details are yet to be revealed, the Pathfinder will be offered in the US in four different trim levels – S, SV, SL and Platinum – with standard equipment highlights across the range including the NissanConnect infotainment system (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) and the Nissan Safety Shield 360 safety suite (automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist and rear automatic braking, intelligent forward collision warning, intelligent driver alertness and rear door alert).


Under the bonnet of all versions is an updated version of the current model’s 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine which has been tuned to produce 212kW of power and 350Nm of torque (+10kW/10Nm).


Unlike the current model however which utilised a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the new Pathfinder sends its power to the ground via a nine-speed automatic unit with the option of either front- or all-wheel-drive set to be retained.


No fuel economy or performance figures for the new model have been released yet however for reference, the current model consumes 9.9 litres of fuel per 100km in front-wheel-drive guise (10.1L/100km for AWDs).


To help make the “4WD” (all-wheel-drive) versions as capable as possible both on the black-top and off it, Nissan has fitted the new Pathfinder with a seven-mode ‘Drive and Terrain Mode Selector’ with the 4WD system able to be locked together when needed.


The seven modes consist of standard, sport, eco, snow, sand, mud/rut and tow, with the latter option being relevant given the new model’s new 6000lb (2722kg) braked towing capacity, one of the best in the current large SUV segment – not including genuine off-roaders like the Toyota Prado or ute-based offerings like the Ford Everest.


According to Nissan North America vice-president of product and services planning Jared Haslam, the new Pathfinder has “returned to its rugged roots” 35 years on from the launch of the original and is “loaded with the benefit of everything learned along the way”.


“Today’s large SUV owners want a vehicle that conveys strength and rugged capability, while using advanced safety and technology features to keep their family safe and comfortable during every-day adventures, and the all-new 2022 Pathfinder is ready to take on those adventure,” he said.


Due to go on sale in North American in the middle of this year, Nissan Australia was unable to confirm the local timing of the new Pathfinder, telling GoAuto it was looking “forward to confirming further details of this exciting new SUV, including details of right-hand production for Australia and New Zealand”.


Nissan sold only 1118 examples of the current model in 2020, occupying a slim 1.2 per cent of the crowded and diverse sub-$70,000 large SUV segment.


Things do not look be getting any better in 2021 with just 59 units shifted in January, making up just 0.8 per cent of the total segment sales.

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