This Car Review Is About: The 2019 specification Nissan Pathfinder ST. It’s the entry level version to the second biggest passenger oriented car in their range. The vehicle provided was fitted with seven seats across three rows and that’s standard fitment.How Much Does It Cost?: The Nissan website has the ST 4×2 as starting from $44,490. The 4×4 version is from $51,550.
Under The Bonnet Is: A petrol fed 3.5L V6 with a CVT and AWD drivetrain. Power is rated as 202kW @ 6,400rpm, and peak torque is a decent 340Nm @ 4,800rpm. Economy is quoted as 10.1L per 100km on the combined cycle. That’s from a 73.0L tank and a tare weight of 2005kg. We finished on 11.1L/100km for a mainly urban drive.On The Outside Is: A big body. At 5,042mm in length it masks that by a svelte and curvaceous shape. The aerodynamics of the body contribute to both a “it looks smaller than it is” and a drag coefficient of 0.33. That’s pretty slippery for a big SUV. It stands at 1,793mm, making it one of the taller vehicles of its type. It’s broad, at 1,960mm and has a 2,900mm wheelbase. So, yes, it’s big, but by having more curves than a supermodel convention, it genuinely looks a lot smaller.
The front end is dominated by Nissan’s current design stamp. That distinctive “Vee” motif is across all of its SUVs and some of the smaller passenger cars, as are the thin headlights, almost invisible indicator light, and curvaceously swept fenders. There is also a pair of inserts in the lower bumpers that will have driving lights fitted in higher spec models. That long body is highlighted by a subtle curve from the front window, sine-waving its way towards the tail lights and enhancing a subtle flare over the rear wheels. Passenger windows are blacked out as well for security and privacy. The tailgate on the ST is manually operated, and opens to a cargo space of 453L with the simple to operate third row seats raised. From the rear there’s a distinctive slope to the body, from the Continental 235/65/18 Cross Contact rubber inwards to the high roof.On The Inside It’s: Roomy, comfortable, and a bit confusing. We’ll cover that in detail shortly.
Firstly , the view from the driver’s seat shows a slab of black ahead of the passenger, an easy to read 8-inch touchscreen that sits above a busy looking two-section for audio and climate control, before ending in a mix of traditional and hi-tech for the binnacle.The slab ahead of the driver could very easily be made to look more visually appealing, for starters. The ambience found in competitors from Korea, and similarly sized Japanese offerings are of a more suitable level. There’s plenty of head, shoulder, and hip room though, meaning taller and wider passengers shouldn’t feel cramped.
Then there is the touchscreen and it has a feature that is bemusing. Sports oriented cars have a G-force meter. This shows lateral and longitudinal forces during acceleration , braking, and cornering. It’s ideal for the GT-R. It’s out of place here.
Visually the controls for audio and climate control are somewhat hard to take in. Ergonomically they’re poorly placed, being well below the driver’s line of sight. Then there’s the additional fact that that the touchscreen has aircon controls as part of its programming…Inside the binnacle are traditional dials placed either side of a information screen that has an almost holographic look to it. It’s exotic and cool simultaneously. Counterbalancing this is the programming on one button on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Like virtually every maker now, there are two tabs to access the centre ino screen and the submenus. There is normally a rocker tab to access the submenu information. Here this one changes the radio stations instead…
The driver’s pew is electronic for movement as is the passenger’s, a nice touch, and starting the ST is push button operated, also a nice touch. Remember, the ST is the entry level.
In between the front seats is a relatively uncluttered console, housing a dial for the AWD system, and a non-manual gear selector. There is a push tab for Sports mode, but no option for manual gear selection. No, there are no paddle shifters on the steering column. The largish wheel houses the usual selection of tabs for audio, info, and cruise control.The second row seats are marked to indicate they fold flat, and they slide forward. The third row are pull strap operated to fold, and they provide an almost perfectly flat cargo space as a result. Cargo capacity goes to 1,354L with the third row folded, and a huge 2,260L with the middle row flat.
There is also a separate set of aircon controls for the second and third row passenger seats. Back up front and the audio system is AM/FM/CD plus Bluetooth streaming. No DAB but that can be added via USB connection.Safety Features Are: Airbags all around, Front Collision Warning and Intelligent Emergency Braking, plus Blind Spot Alert. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Reverse Camera with guidelines are standard as well. The spare is a space saver however there is tyre pressure monitoring as standard.
On The Road It’s: Mostly a benign drive. Although nominally an AWD it’s predominantly front wheel biased, and the steering tells that story clearly. There’s a constant and gentle pull on the tiller, saying that the pesky V6 engine is driving the front wheels more than the rear pretty much all of the time.
Traction and grip levels are high, however. There’s no sense of the rear breaking away when driven exuberantly, and the front overcomes its incessant gentle pulling at the wheel, becoming more conversational about the drive and the road. Rubber is 235/65/18 Continental Cross LX Sport.
Damping is well sorted too. There’s minimal float, with rebound limited and dialled out quickly. Initial response to the usual road imperfections is quick, absorbing some of the more notably intrusive joins and bumps to the point their actual impact was negligible.
Front to rear balance was also well sorted, with both ends feeling the same, rather than a tighter or slightly looser response. Adding to the competent chassis is a nicely balanced brake feel. With a travel that tells the driver just where the pads are on their way to or from the discs, pulling up to a stopped vehicle, stop sign, or red light was intuitive and easy to judge. The weak spot here is the CVT, or Constant Variable Transmission. Also known as a stepless transmission, it’s evolved from its essentially single gear beginnings to having steps, or gera, programmed in to make it feel like a more normal transmission as it changes. These transmissions are best suited to smaller (read:less torque) engines. The issue here is that they feel like a manual transmission with a badly word clutch plate when put to the sword. There’s a feeling of slipping the gear, that not all of the torque is being utilised by the transmission, and therefore not as efficient in getting the engine’s workload through to the tyres.
In the Pathfinder ST, that 340Nm has a fairly steep torque curve from low revs, the engines normal and best operating range when underway. That torque really does seem to overwhelm the CVT here and one suspects that a traditional torque converter style transmission would be far more effective and more economical, especially with ratios of eight, nine, ten cogs now available. And remembering there is no manual change option, then there’s no change to exploit the torque more efficiently. Warranty And Services Are: Five years and capped price. Information is here.
At The End Of The Drive. The Pathfinder ST is by no means an unpleasant vehicle to drive. It’s a solid and competitive seven seater, making it an almost ideal family transporter. Having seven seats, and a third row that’s easy to operate go a long way to help the cause. There’s plenty of room for seven passengers and the seats are comfortable. Instrumentation is mostly user friendly however the dash below the touchscreen needs work. Then there’s the drivetrain. Even a DCT would be a better option for a big engine than the CVT.
Here is some extra information.