FAMILY ROAD TEST: Nissan’s N-Sport seven-seat SUV
NISSAN'S Pathfinder may be getting a bit long in the tooth but for buyers wanting a roomy seven-seater with a gutsy petrol V6 it's a solid choice.
Our family of four tested the Pathfinder grade aimed squarely at urban family life: the ST-L N-Sport. Front-wheel drive, heavy on safety and convenience, with bonus black body styling it's $2000 more than a normal mid-spec Pathfinder.
Jules: A Pathfinder N-Sport?
Iain: Indeed. You slap an N-Sport badge on the back and a two-tonne SUV suddenly becomes a sports car.
Jules: So, more power, smarter aerodynamics, race seats and super-grippy tyres I assume?
Iain: None of those things. It makes more sense when Nissan puts its N-Sport badge on the likes of the 370Z.
Jules: Our seven-seat Pathfinder has black rims. That's quite sporty.
Iain: Yep, you're investing in black detailing. Those are 20-inch black alloys, plus black mirrors, front grille, bumper trim and roof rails.
Jules: That's the lot?
Iain: Pretty much. But this is the mid-grade ST-L Pathfinder, so your included kit is healthy.
Jules: And it looks less dull than a lot of large family SUVs. The black bits and tinted windows will work for the Bad Mums in the school car park.
The living space
Iain: No messing around here, this cabin is vast.
Jules: It's truck-like in terms of space, plus there's some luxury to be found.
Iain: True. The leather seats are electric and heated, and there's lots of soft-touch plastics.
Jules: It's a busy button-fest in the middle though, plus the screen feels ancient compared to others I've used. And a CD player? How quaint.
Iain: You Millennials. I still enjoy a CD now and then. And you need to, as the connectivity is a weak point of the infotainment.
Jules: It's crying out for smartphone mirroring. My phone kept disconnecting with Bluetooth and the cable.
Iain: The built-in navigation works well, there's a decent digital driver information display behind the steering wheel - and how awesome is the Bose audio?
Jules: Great for your old-man CDs. But yes, the Pathfinder is so huge it sounds like a concert hall inside.
Iain: If you're not into four-cylinder diesels or planet-saving hybrids, this meaty petrol V6 is a delight.
Jules: It feels really quick off the mark; really surprising considering its size.
Iain: Being a front-drive - all-wheel drive adds $4000 - the 202kW got the front wheels spinning at times but once cruising it's a serene big thing. The continuously variable transmission isn't that horrible, despite my preference for a normal auto.
Jules: Yes, very comfy on the highway, and it didn't feel as cumbersome as I'd anticipated. It's big but not intimidating to drive like a big Toyota LandCruiser.
Iain: Radar cruise control is great for the daily grind, too.
Jules: Big SUVs need a 360-degree camera and, thank goodness, the Pathfinder has one.
Iain: With seven seats up you get an excellent 453L of boot space for the shopping. To compare, a Toyota Kluger has 195L and Mazda CX-9 230L.
Jules: It's a whopper but I'd have liked an automatic tailgate for the $56,000 price tag.
Iain: You need the top-spec Ti for that. Anyway, with five seats in place you have a cavernous 1354L of space, which means the two kids' bikes could fit in without any wheels removed. Brilliant.
Jules: As it's not a four-wheel drive, I suppose our fun trips wouldn't be off-road.
Iain: You'd need the AWD version but even then, there's no low range on those. Pathfinders prefer city streets.
Jules: Or highway cruises. I'd happily travel a few hours in the sink-in leather seats. And the ride comfort even on twisty roads isn't bad.
Iain: The V6 is quite good fun to punt along, and I agree, a highway road trip is the ideal thanks to all the equipment you can haul in the Pathfinder's massive boot. It's rated to tow 2700kg.
Jules: Loads of storage and it's really light for the kids in the back with the panoramic glass roof.
Iain: So easy to load them into their car seats too, due to the space.
Jules: And it's one of the easiest seat-folding mechanisms I've used to get access to the two rear seats.
Iain: It's called EZ Flex and is pretty smart. The second row seats can slide forward for more legroom at the back, they recline and fold simply for even more cargo space.
Jules: They're proper adult-sized rear seats.
Iain: Agreed, I'd be happy travelling back there. Air vents to each seat row too, but no USB ports for the back two rows. Kids need those these days.
Jules: Fuel economy isn't very family friendly. We averaged 12L/100km.
Iain: And while servicing is good value, Nissan is now the only mainstream brand with a three-year warranty. Everyone else has five years or better.
Jules: There's good safety gear, including useful rear cross traffic alert and blind spot warning.
Jules: If you want massive load space and a gutsy V6 this is a great choice, especially with the black body styling. I'd want more modern kit inside though.
Iain: Absolutely. If Nissan could jazz up the cabin with the latest infotainment and funkier features, it would turn a good large family SUV into a real belter.
Nissan Pathfinder ST-L N-Sport vitals
Price: $56,425 plus on-roads
Warranty/servicing: 3 years/100,000km; $1796 for 5 years/50,000km
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 202kW/340Nm
Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, rear camera, rear sensors, radar cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, forward collision warning, around-view monitor