Dec 6 2008 Bill McCarthy
Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dci Aventura
MANY SUVs and off-roaders have a bit of an identity crisis.
Are they really there to tackle the rough stuff, many are more than capable, or are they a bit of a fashion accessory?
The Pathfinder is firmly in the former camp and just to prove the point, one of the many variations includes a tent that attaches to the rear of the vehicle.
The giant from Nissan is a more than capable road vehicle, but is more likely to be seen on dirt tracks and mudholes on construction sites and farmland.
But no doubt some will find their way outside the school gates and will be used as road cars and, if you live in a remote area, it would be a comfort to have a vehicle like the Pathfinder on the drive when the ice and snow of winter set in.
There are practical and financial reasons for picking the Pathfinder. Up against rivals like the excellent Land Rover Discovery, they can offer similar off-road capability, but a cheaper price tag with an array of standard equipment.
The first thing that strikes you is the sheer size. It offers a cavernous interior with bags of head and legroom. The biggest problem is hauling yourself into the cabin, an almost impossible task for the shorter of stature without grab handles.
Once inside there are three rows of seats. The first two rows are both firm and comfortable with good quality fabrics. The third row folds completely into the boot space but are not really a long-distance proposition for adults.
When the two rear rows of seats are folded, the boot space becomes cavernous, a serious load-lugger with 2,091 litres.
This is complemented by a split level glove box, large double deck centre console, under floor storage in the second row and cubby holes beside the third row of seats.
The commanding driving position and large glass areas allows for good all round vision and the vehicle is surpringly accomplished motorway cruiser. The initial noisiness of the 2.5-litre diesel unit becomes more of a background throb and the softish suspension means occupants get a comfortable ride on long flat roads.
The 171bhp Euro-4 compliant turbocharged diesel engine is no slouch with decent acceleration for such a large vehicle.
It is also reasonably frugal, with a claimed 28.8mpg claimed, which did not seem far off the mark during the test drive. Accelertion is brisk, with the 0-62mph sprint taking just 11.9 seconds, with a top speed of 112mph.
A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is fitted as standard on automatic versions.
Towing heavy loads is cinch for the Pathfinder which is capable of pulling a 3,000kg braked trailer.
On the down side, handling is only so-so and the Pathfinder tends to pitch and roll on corners if pushed too hard, so steady driving is required.
The steering is nicely weighted but the manual gear change is sloppy, which spoils the driving experience.
For the rugged off-road stuff, the 4x4 Nissan ALL MODE system constantly electronically monitors driving condiditons and anticipates low traction situations and ensures drive is transferred between wheels and axles the instant a problem arises.
The Pathfinder standard kit is impressive with alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, Bluetooth, CD audio and front, side can curtain airbags. The test model added privacy glass, trip computer, dimming rear view mirror, leather upholstery, electric front seats, rear heating controls, Intelligent Key, xenon headlamps, DVD satellite navigation with voice activation and a colour rear view parking camera.
The Pathfinder is offered in three equipment levels, Trek, Sport and Aventura with prices starting at £24,400.
Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dci Aventura 5dr
Price : £29,905
Mechanical : 171bhp, 2,488cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6spd manual gearbox
Max speed : 112mph
0-62mph : 11.9 secs
Combined mpg : 28.8
Insurance group : 14
CO2 emissions : 264g/km
BiK rating : 35%
Warranty : 3yrs/ 60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 12yrs anti-rust