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Review of: 2016 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4dr Platinum
2016 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum 4WD: Four-wheel not, comfy crossover indeed
By G. R. Whale
Jul. 4, 2016
I’ve spent years with every previous generation of Pathfinder, on the tarmac and far off it. Compared to those “what road” 4×4s, this one shares only a name, an above-average V6 and perhaps reliability, but for hauling around the infield it presents a compelling argument.
Pros & Cons
- + Value for money
- + surprisingly spacious interior
- + Interior design
- - Steering feel
- - Acceleration
- - Off-road performance
It’s challenging to draw a large conveyance designed to serve as a minivan but not look like one without the occasional odd angle, and equally challenging to find many angular elements on this bean blessed with Nissan’s elongated arches and sweeps. So Pathfinder presents a distinctive, recognizable face, clean canopy with just three windows a side, and mildly puffy waistline. As with many crossovers from Japanese marques, rolling stock doesn’t fill the fenders as much as European or domestic options.
Open any of the broad doors and you wonder if the sister-car Infiniti QX60’s real-looking maple wood trim, diamond-quilt upholstery and driving assistants are worth $10,000 more than this less-convincing wood trim and regular leather. Regardless of material it feels good from panoramic moonroof and headliner to floor mat, and seats are appropriately comfortable front to hatch; if two are of average height it’s a legit six-adult bus.
Analog gauges are delightfully clear, controls a mixed bag: Stalks and center panel audio/climate are fine—though all five knobs and most buttons feel the same if you operate by touch. However, the lower-left dash switches (up to 8) are less than convenient, the infotainment controller feels unnecessarily complicated and presumably you know the unlabeled switches are rear windows. Stowage includes console wings, rear door pockets big enough for headphones and a huge glovebox.
A wide door sill and clever folding middle seats make for easy third-row access by SUV standards, from the “40” section passenger side or driver’s side, the sliding center row adjusting legroom for both rear rows. The only minor drawback is side windows so big they don’t fully retract.
The rear underfloor bin hides the subwoofer and messy things, and the lid remains open til you close it. Cargo space is 453 litres all seats up to 2,260 litres behind front seats. Folding to a flat-floor is possiboe but there are gaps for things to fall through, and a cover’s available but it’s not retractable; it stows in a bag.
Dual-screen DVD players, inputs in rear console and the center armrest, navigation that recognized my voice on the first try, all-around cameras, 12- and 120-volt outlets, Bluetooth streaming that worked well even with lossless files, blind-spot and rear cross-path warnings are all Platinum standard. However, the Pathfinder does not offer some of the active safety systems available on competitors, nor those of its platform mate Infiniti QX60.
The 3.5 V.6 and CVT combo deliver smooth, responsive output, the lively feel belies it’s not really fast. I never found a performance deficit but the vacation crew and a trailer likely would. Ratings of 12.9/9.0 l/100km are comparably good, and I did mid-13s in town and matched the 9.0 (unloaded).
Front-drive is the default, rear added as needed, though unless locked via console switch I easily chirped front tires from rest. It has hill descent control for icy Whistler parking lots, but there’s no low range, and wheelbase and tires only confirm you should not think of this as a 4WD.
Brakes are strong, the pedal not so firm, and steering effort creeps to the heavy side at parking speeds. Effort lightens at speed, and I’m not fond of the feel (or lack of) on long sweeping bends like transition ramps regardless of speed.
Where the Pathfinder excels is rolling down the highway, soaking up bumps big and small, getting you there with minimal fuss. You can push it with stable, predictable, tire-howling results but moderation works so much better.
Riding an extensive features list, this all-wheel drive Platinum is $48,000, a smidge more than a top-trim Highlander. A most-similar Pilot, Explorer, Traverse, Durango, Acura MDX or QX60 is $4,000-9,000 more. Alternatives include the top-tier, roomier all-wheel drive Sienna ($50,000) or, if you can live without DVD entertainment and wireless streaming, the better riding, lower-running-cost Pathfinder SL tech pack is $45,000.
I wouldn’t dare take this Pathfinder where I took earlier versions, even if it did fit. Rather, Pathfinder is now a good option for those who need near-minivan flexibility that doesn’t look like it, all-wheel drive and a plethora of gadgets.