ROAD TEST: The seven-seater Nissan Pathfinder ST-L
The ST-L is arguably the sweet spot of the seven-seat Pathfinder range. You can save about $4000 by buying the two-wheel drive version, or add $3100 for the hybrid. Each gets a sunroof, leather-accented upholstery, 13-speaker Bose audio, eight-inch infotainment screen with satnav and power/heated front seats. The warranty is ordinary at three years/100,000km and service intervals are 12 months/10,000km for the petrol-only versions, costing $1302 for the first four trips. The hybrid needs six month/7000km service trips, the first six costing $1890.
The dash, though dated, is built with durable plastics and is well screwed together. The heated front seats are reasonably supportive but favour plushness over side bolstering. The second and third rows are flat backed and flat based but there are air vents for those in the middle pew. Storage is good throughout and, even with all seats in use, there's more boot space than some rivals.
The Pathfinder picks up a five-star ANCAP rating thanks to scoring 35.73/37 on test in 2013. The criticism was for "marginal" pedestrian protection rating. Nissan has since fitted the ST-L and Ti with active driving aids including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring. Six airbags are standard, the curtain bags covering the third row.
Carrying the crew and chattels smoothly over patched-up roads? That's what the Nissan does best. The steering and suspension are tuned to minimise stress and the seven pre-set ratios in the continuously variable transmission do a passable imitation of a conventional auto. The V6 uses more fuel than we'd like but the outputs (202kW/340Nm) maintain a brisk pace even when loaded. Outward vision is good for a seven-seater and it rides quieter than some rivals.
Mazda CX-9 GT $64,790 drive-away
The newer CX-9 shows up the Nissan on interior polish and fuel use, is a better drive and has smartphone mirroring for those who can't live without tethering their mobiles.
Skoda Kodiaq Sportline $50,290 drive-away
The petrol version of the Kodiaq gives away some power and torque to the Nissan as well as some space down back but is the bargain buy at this price.
Toyota Kluger GXL $58,990 drive-away
The all-wheel drive GXL uses marginally less fuel at 9.5L/100km and is a close match to the Nissan on the key safety and infotainment features.
A reliable workhorse, the Pathfinder has been run down by a fleet of shinier machines with turbo engines and the latest looks and features.
Nissan Pathfinder ST-L
Price: $63,400 drive-away (rich)
Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, AEB, adaptive cruise, blind-spot, rear cross-traffic alert (on the money)
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 202kW/340Nm (solid)
Transmission: CVT; AWD (effective)
Thirst: 10.1L/100km (thirsty)