The only engine on offer is a 2.5-litre diesel that produces 187bhp and a healthy-sounding 332lb ft of torque. Unfortunately, it disappoints in real-world driving because it feels weak low down and doesn’t like to be revved. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while an automatic is available as an option on top-spec cars.
A switchable four-wheel-drive system, low-ratio transfer box and separate chassis give the Pathfinder genuine off-road ability, but it’s poor to drive on-road. The dramatic body lean and slow-witted steering make it feel every bit of its size through corners, and the ride is very unsettled, even on smooth roads.
Road noise is rarely an issue and the Pathfinder keeps wind noise down to a pretty low level considering it’s about as aerodynamic as a block of flats. However, the engine lets the side down because it’s clattery at idle and raucous above 3000rpm. The six-speed manual gearbox has a vague action, too.
The Pathfinder undercuts many of its key rivals on price. However, resale values are weak for the class, and the class norm isn’t exactly strong to start with. As with any big 4x4, running costs are high. Average fuel economy is little more than 30mpg for the manual diesel and less than 30mpg for the automatic.
Not all buyers will use their Pathfinder as a rugged, go-anywhere workhorse, but those that do are likely to find that it stands up well to hard use. However, as durable as the cabin materials are, they’re also desperately unappealing. What’s more, some Pathfinder owners have reported reliability problems.
The Pathfinder comes with a stability control system that helps you get the car back under control if it starts to slide, while front-, side- and full-length curtain airbags protect occupants if a crash proves unavoidable. Deadlocks, locking wheelnuts and marked parts are also included.
All Pathfinders have a driver’s seat that adjusts for height, although it’s easier to fine-tune your driving position with the electric seats of higher-spec cars. The steering wheel also moves up and down, but there’s no reach adjustment. All-round visibility is fine and the dashboard layout is reasonably straightforward.
The Pathfinder doesn’t offer as much room as some rivals, but there’s still enough for five adults. It also has an extra pair of seats that fold up from the boot floor so you can turn it into a seven-seater, but these are really only big enough for kids. The boot is huge when the third-row seats are folded flat, and a split rear tailgate offers added practicality.
There are two trims – Acenta and Tekna. Entry-level Acenta cars come with electric window, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and 17-inch alloy wheels. Meanwhile, the Tekna spec brings 18-inch alloys, satellite-navigation, keyless entry, leather upholstery and cruise control. Options include a rear parking camera and a Bose premium sound system.
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This is our favourite version of the Pathfinder, but it’s still only worth considering if you’re looking for a rugged workhorse.