In-depth Reviews

Nissan Pathfinder SUV (2005-2014)

"The Nissan Pathfinder offers go-anywhere capability, but its rugged design means it can't compete with Land Rover for luxury."

Carbuyer Rating

1.5 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Capable off-road
  • Can tow heavy loads
  • Seven-seat practicality

Cons

  • Diesel engine is very noisy
  • Not much fun to drive
  • Ride can be shaky

The Nissan Pathfinder is a rugged off-roader that makes sense for those who want plenty of space for the family and the ability to tow a heavy caravan or trailer. All models have seven seats, which can be folded down to reveal a large boot.

Nissan has kept the range simple, with just two trim levels: Acenta and top-of-the-range Tekna. Even the basic model gets climate control, all-round electric windows, heated power-folding door mirrors and alloy wheels. Deciding on which engine to go for is even simpler, as there's only one option: a 2.5-litre diesel, which sadly is neither quick nor particularly economical.

The Pathfinder follows the mould of an old-fashioned off-roader, so it should prove very capable off-road thanks to grippy four-wheel drive and high ground clearance that keeps its body out of the way of obstacles. The downside is that it's not particularly good on-road, due to having light steering and leaning quite a lot in corners.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Diesel engine doesn't impress for economy and the automatic version is even worse

The Nissan Pathfinder is only available with a 2.5-litre diesel engine that can return fuel economy of up to 33.2mpg, which is poor compared to the latest SUVs. CO2 emissions are also high at 224g/km, which means road tax is going to be pricey at £290 every year.

Go for the automatic gearbox and that figure rises to 238g/km of CO2, which means the cost of annual road tax jumps to £490. The effect on fuel economy isn’t as hard to stomach, although it only drops to 31.4mpg. If you want a (relatively) economical large SUV, take a look at the Volkswagen Touareg instead.

Engines, drive & performance

No good on the road, but will impress off the beaten track

The only engine option in the Nissan Pathfinder is the 2.5-litre dCi diesel, which has 187bhp and does a decent job of getting the 4x4 up to speed. Surprisingly, if you choose the automatic gearbox (which is only available on the top-of-the-range Tekna model), 0-62mph takes 10.7 seconds rather than 11 seconds with the manual gearbox.

In corners, the Nissan has imprecise steering and lots of body lean, which means you tend to take things easy on country roads. Go off-road and the Nissan starts to make more sense, thanks to its powerful engines and grippy four-wheel drive. The trouble is that more modern rivals – such as the Land Rover Discovery – are just as good off-road and whole lot more composed on it.

Interior & comfort

Fantastic at soaking up potholes, but engine is noisy even at idle

The Nissan Pathfinder's soft suspension does an excellent job of soaking up the worst big bumps the road can throw at it, but broken surfaces can leave it feeling unsettled, which can make for a tiresome journey. That's not helped by an engine that's noisy, even at a standstill.

Getting comfortable behind the wheel should be easy thanks to all models getting a height-adjustable driver's seat and a tilt-adjustable steering wheel. Other comfort-related additions include a puddle light in each door mirror (so you can see where you're stepping when getting in) and an auto-dimming rear view mirror that stops you from being dazzled by a following car's headlights.

Practicality & boot space

Space for seven and folding seats allow for huge load area

All Nissan Pathfinders have seven seats, which is invaluable if you have a large family and handy even if you only occasionally need to carry more than five people. With all the seats up, luggage space is limited to 190 litres, but with the third row of seats down that expands to a decent 515 litres. Fold down the second-row seats, too and that space grows to an enormous 2,091 litres, which should be enough for most loads.

The Pathfinder has other useful features including a split rear tailgate that means small items can be dropped in the boot without having to move the entire bootlid. All Pathfinders also have loads of storage spaces, including six cupholders and a place to put your sunglasses.

Reliability & safety

Rugged off-roader won't be let down by reliability issues

The Nissan Pathfinder, which is a comparatively low seller here in the UK, didn’t feature in our Driver Power 2013 owner satisfaction survey, but Nissan did drop from fourth place in 2012 to 12th in the manufacturer rankings that year.

The Nissan Pathfinder has been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, achieving four out of five stars for safety. That might sound good, but it's not a great result when you consider this was a less stringent test carried out in 2006. Parents of small children will also be interested to know the Nissan received just three stars out of five for child occupant protection.

The Pathfinder does still get a decent amount of safety equipment, including six airbags and electronic stability control, while its sheer size should help in the event of an accident.

Price, value for money & options

Cheaper than rivals, but that doesn't make up for a poor driving experience

The Nissan Pathfinder is cheaper to buy than rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery and all models come with generous kit. The basic Acenta model gets equipment such as automatic wipers and headlights, climate control, remote central locking and an alarm. Top-spec Tekna models get cruise control, sat nav, leather seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat and bright xenon headlights.

The Nissan will lose its value faster than a Land Rover Discovery, but it does have a long service interval of 18,000 miles. However, its three-year/60,000-mile warranty isn't as good as what's offered by Kia or Hyundai.

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