A little earlier this year we took some of SA’s most popular SUVs to Botswana for a vehicle safari through the Khwai Conservancy. We’ll be posting reviews of all the vehicles that accompanied us over the next couple of weeks. You can read our travel article about the trip here, and you can find all the other vehicle articles under the “Driving Impressions” category.
Talk Nissan 4x4s and extreme off-road driving, and the chances are that the Pathfinder SUV won’t feature much. The discussion would probably be about the Patrol, NP300 and even the Navara. Yet, despite being considered by many as a softy 4×4, the Pathfinder is surprisingly capable in most conditions – like the wild place next to the Khwai River, for instance
The Nissan Pathfinder 2.5dCi 4×4 LE was parked next to its bigger brother, the Patrol 3.0TD GL, near an intimidating river crossing.
The Nissan team knew the Patrol would not have a problem in the deep water. But the Pathfinder’s wading depth is 450mm, compared with the Patrol’s impressive 700mm. Sure, the Pathfinder has a transfer case, supplemented by the active brake limited slip (ABLS) system. But it also has much less wheel articulation than the Patrol, with its solid axles, so the Pathfinder’s wheels tend to part with terra firma all too easily, leaving the electronics to sort out the traction details.
The Patrol entered the water and, as expected, made light work of the challenge. Then the Pathfinder crew tackled the crossing, with the Patrol team standing by. They needn’t have worried. The Pathy sailed through without any difficulty. It was an impressive feat for what many punters describe as a softroader that shouldn’t go anywhere near a 4×4 challenge.
So yes, the Pathfinder can “do 4×4”. It certainly has the basic tools. The standard sidesteps have always been a bugbear, but once they are removed the Nissan can go well into the bundu.
In the cabin, the Pathfinder is well equipped. It has climate control, leather upholstery, electric seat adjustment, a cool infotainment system with navigation, and seven seats. The ride is one of the most comfortable in its class, and it is also a formidable towing vehicle.
The well-proven 2,5-litre four-cylinder engine delivers 140 kW and 450 Nm of torque, and in this application the engine is coupled to a five-speed automatic gearbox.
Although it is not a bargain buy in the bakkie-cum-SUV segment, the Pathfinder does have some strong features, such as the super comfortable interior, good looks (despite its age), the 450 Nm engine and some pukka off-roading ability.
In fact, it has the ability to break through a few stereotypical barriers, given half a chance.