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Driven: Nissan launches fresh Pathfinder

Path to glory: The facelifted Nissan Pathfinder has hit Australian showrooms armed with new safety tech, an updated V6 and a fresh face.

Nissan hopes to put updated Pathfinder on more shopping lists

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Nissan logo24 Mar 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

NISSAN Australia says it is expecting to pick up some sales from former Ford Territory owners with its facelifted Pathfinder seven-seater, when stock finally runs out of the Aussie-built SUV later this year.

The revised Pathfinder touches down this month, from $41,990 plus on-road costs, three-and-a-half years after the launch of the R52-series version that saw it shift from a rugged utilitarian four-wheel drive to a family friendly seven-seat crossover.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Pathfinder and Series II Navara media launch, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said the car-maker was pleased with the response to the SUV, despite not receiving the coverage of some of its competitors.

“It has carved out a fantastic little niche and has a really loyal customer base,” he said this week. “With the new car we are trying to tough it out a bit, make it a bit more masculine, there is lots of new tech in the car.

“We are really happy with where Pathfinder is. From a pure volume perspective, it has never done as well as it has done (in the last three years), but it doesn’t get rated by everybody. But our consumers love it. It’s not seen in the forefront of the segment and people within the industry probably don’t consider it, but from a consumer perspective, we are really happy with it.”

Mr Emery added that the demise of the Australian-built Territory provided an opportunity for the Pathfinder in the coming years.

“We think there is a big opportunity with that car with Territory going. If it has a kindred spirit, it is probably Territory. We think our car does things better than Territory ever did in terms of how it suits customers.

“Because of its nice balance between the typical American soccer mum car, where it is obviously derived, but also the sorts of uses that an Australian family would use the car for, we think it is in a really nice space and it probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves.”

Since its launch in 2013, the US-built SUV’s sales have steadily grown, with January’s haul of 933 units marking the best month since the nameplate was launched in Australia in the mid-1980s.

2015 was the Pathfinder’s most successful year, with 6433 examples sold, while last year it dipped by 13.6 per cent for its second best year – 5560 sales.

Registrations are already up by 32 per cent in the first two months of 2017 with 1427 shifted, and the Pathfinder is trailing the Hyundai Santa Fe (1495), but just ahead of the Mazda CX-9 (1339).

Mr Emery said he was not expecting a significant sales increase on the back of the new model, and highlighted the competitive nature of the segment.

“I think it will certainly sustain volumes we have been getting out of the car, if we could sell a few more along the way I would be ok with that as well. We are not planning to substantially increase volume out of that car. There have been a few new entrants in that segment since its launch, so the market has become a bit tougher in the sense that there are more competitors.”

The Pathfinder’s key rivals are the freshly updated Toyota Kluger, Mazda’s well-received new CX-9, Kia’s Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe.

As previously reported, Pathfinder pricing remains static for the update, except for the base two-wheel-drive ST that has increased by $500 to $41,990.

Choosing all-paw traction lifts the price by $3500 for the ST and $4000 for the ST-L and Ti.

Opting for a hybrid powertrain adds $2500 to the price of the 2WD ST and $3000 for the AWD ST-L and flagship Ti. The range tops out at $69,190 for the all-wheel-drive Ti Hybrid.

Fifty per cent of the 3.5-litre V6’s engine components are new, according to Nissan, and it now includes direct injection as well as mirror bore coating in the engine cylinders to reduce weight and friction.

As a result of some of the tweaks, power in the V6 has risen by 12kW to 202kW and torque is up by 15Nm to 340Nm.

The V6’s fuel economy rating has improved by 0.1 litre per 100km for the 2WD to 9.9L and 0.2L for the 4WD to 10.1L.

Despite the weight savings in the engine, the Pathfinder weight hovers between 1921kg and 2170kg, depending on the variant.

Maximum braked towing capacity for the V6 is rated at 2700kg, while the hybrid can tow 1650kg.

There are no changes to the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain which continues on with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a 15kW electric motor and a 144-volt lithium-ion battery for a combined output of 188kW and 330Nm.

Fuel economy stays at 8.6L/100km for the 2WD and 8.7L for the 4WD.

Each Pathfinder is now equipped with the latest version of Nissan’s Xtronic continuously-variable transmission (CVT) that is already found in the one-size-smaller X-Trail.

Nissan has stiffened the suspension tune by 11 per cent at the front and seven per cent at the rear for the update, and when combined with the sharper steering response from the speed-sensitive electric power steering system, the company says the Pathfinder has improved body control, ride and handling.

The All Mode four-wheel-drive offered as an option on all three variants features a rotary dial with three modes – 2WD, Auto and Lock, depending on conditions.

As well as the changes under the skin, the new Pathfinder ushers in new front-end styling with fresh headlights, LED ‘boomerang’ daytime running lights, a revised V-motion grille and integrated exterior mirror indicators.

The Caspian Blue hue is new to the colour palette which also includes Brilliant Silver, Diamond Black, Ivory Pearl, Cayenne Red, Midnight Jade and Gun Metallic.

It also gains a new alloy wheel design, which measures 18 inches for the ST and ST-L, while the Ti rides on 20-inch hoops.

There are few changes inside, although there is a new 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity now standard – it only had phone Bluetooth standard on the previous ST – and a new Advanced Drive Assist Display in the instrument cluster.

There is now a third USB port and an HDMI port for second-row entertainment screens and the satellite navigation now has 3D mapping graphics and pinch and touch functionality.

Nissan has introduced Intelligent Mobility technology – its umbrella term for driver aids and its imminent step into autonomous vehicles – to the updated Pathfinder, with adaptive cruise control, a rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (up to 180km/h) now standard on ST-L and Ti.

There is no option for AEB in the base ST.

These new items are in addition to the blind spot warning and Moving Object Detection, which picks up movement behind the car via the surround view monitor.

It also has six airbags and a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

Standard gear in the ST includes regular cruise control, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, tri-zone climate control, ‘Ez Flex’ second row seating system with sliding and tilt function, rear parking sensors, reversing camera with guidelines, keyless entry and start and a leather accented steering wheel.

Other features include a six-speaker stereo, hill start assist, automatic headlights, a tyre pressure monitor, power-folding mirrors, tinted glass and Isofix child seat anchor points.

Stepping up to the ST-L, which starts at $53,690, adds heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, foglights, front sunroof and panoramic glass roof, four-way adjustable front passenger seat, black or ivory leather-accented seat trim, sat-nav, an auto-dimming interior mirror, stainless steel front kick plates and a 13-speaker Bose audio system.

The flagship Ti, kicking off from $62,190, gains a motion-activated power tailgate, auto-levelling LED headlights, remote engine start, heated and cooled front seats, driver position memory, auto-reverse tilt-down mirrors and new second-row entertainment screens with wireless headphones and remote control.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder pricing*
ST 3.5L V6 2WD (a)$41,990
ST 2.5L Hybrid 2WD (a)$44,490
ST 3.5L V6 4WD (a)$45,490
ST-L 3.5L V6 2WD (a)$53,690
ST-L 3.5L V6 4WD (a)$57,690
ST-L 2.5L Hybrid 4WD (a)$60,690
Ti 3.5L V6 2WD (a)$62,190
Ti 3.5L V6 4WD (a)$66,190
Ti 2.5L Hybrid 4WD (a)$69,190
*Excludes on-road costs

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