In 1986, Nissan launched a brand new line-up of SUV now known as Nissan Pathfinder. The very first Pathfinder shared the platform with Nissan’s compact pickup truck in 1986. Today, in its fourth generation, it is a midsize crossover SUV with a uni-body design that includes a hybrid variant.
Before 2004, the Pathfinder was marketed as Nissan Terrano outside North America, and it was not until 2004 with the third generation that it was named throughout the world as the Nissan Pathfinder (R51 series). Nissan first built it as a compact SUV (WD21 series) in the first generation. In the second generation (R 50 series), it rolled off production lines as a midsize SUV. Since then, it has been sold as a midsize crossover SUV. In Australia, Nissan markets the seven-seat Pathfinder in four different variants, including options for petrol, diesel and hybrid engines.
First Generation: WD21 Series (1986-1995)
The first-generation Pathfinder was introduced as a two-door body-on-frame SUV, sharing styling and most components with the Nissan Hardbody Truck. Nissan Pathfinder was built on a ladder platform and competed with the Ford Bronco II, Jeep Cherokee and other non-American SUVs like Toyota 4Runner.
All WD21 series base models were powered by a 2400-cc 4-cylinder engine, producing 77 kW of power and 182 N.m of torque. The first-generation Pathfinders were fitted with 2WD and manually-engaged 4WD transmissions.
Nissan introduced the four-door Pathfinder in October 1989 to enhance its market appeal, while still keeping the overall length and wheelbase of the vehicle similar to a two-door SUV. The front grille was revised, and dealerships offered several interior trim level options and exterior packages.
In 1990, Nissan upgraded the 2.4L engine to produce 114 kW of power and 244 N.m of torque. The first generation of Pathfinder continued until 1995.
Second Generation: R50 Series (1996-2004)
Nissan introduced many changes to the second-generation Pathfinder from the exterior to the interior and the platform as well. In 1995, the Pathfinder carried a unibody rather than a body-on-frame construction and adopted the same front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. V6 engines powered all second-generation vehicles.
In 2000, Nissan upgraded the 3275-cc V6 engine to a capacity of 179 kW if paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission and 186 kW if used with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Nissan introduced several facelifts to the R50 series. One such facelift was released in 1999, which modified the front fascia, rear fascia, and interior. In 2002, it received another facelift in 2002, which added a Nissan logo, a revised front grille, and a new steering wheel. Yet again in 2003, it gained a new steering wheel.
In September 1996, Nissan launched a midsize luxury SUV named Infiniti QX4, based on the unibody of Pathfinder. It differed from the Pathfinder with its more upscale interior and styling. Marketed as a luxury vehicle, Infiniti QX4 included a 4WD low-range transmission for better off-road capability. A 3.3 L V6 engine producing 127 kW powered the Infiniti QX4, which was slightly lower compared to its competitors. Later in 2000, it received a new redesigned V6 engine with a capacity of 3498cc, delivering 179 kW of power and 334 N.m of torque.
Third Generation: R51 Series (2005-2012)
The new series uses the Nissan F-Alpha platform, thus returning to body-on-frame construction. A 4.0L V6 engine (198 kW, 390 N⋅m) or 2.5L (126 kW, 403 N⋅m) turbo-diesel engine powers it. For the first time, a third row of seats was added to the Pathfinder range.
The heavily-revised Pathfinder R51 series reached Australia in 2010 with a class-leading 2.5L turbo diesel engine (140kW, 450 N.m) powering it. Now boasting of improved equipment across each model grade, a revised interior and new styling, the Nissan Pathfinder was aimed at edging ahead of its immediate competitors in the medium SUV segment. The engine was available in all the variants of ST, ST-L and Ti guises.
Fuel consumption of the engine also improved considerably, with manual transmission variant giving 8.5 litres per 100km of combined driving, while the automatic version gave 9.0 litres per 100 km.
The cabin has been refreshed with new door trims and seat fabric. The ST-L models now include leather seats and chrome highlights. The range-topping Nissan Pathfinder Ti models now feature Xenon headlamps which have auto levelling and headlight washers concealed in the bumper moulding.
Fourth Generation: R52 Series (2013-Present)
The completely-redesigned Pathfinder was launched in 2013, with Nissan opting to revert to the unibody frame and the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout for the R52 series. This time, Nissan launched the new Pathfinder with a new hybrid system, which uses a 2.5-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine to replace the V6 petrol unit.
Nissan sandwiched an electric motor between the CVT and the engine. The 15kW-rated electric motor boosted the total power to 186 kW and 329 N.m of torque. Nissan's intelligent dual-clutch plate system, both between the engine and the motor and the CVT, efficiently manages power between the engine and electric motor. This power system gives the Pathfinder a range of 785 km on a full tank of fuel and a combined fuel consumption average of 9.1L/100 km.
The Pathfinder Hybrid maintains full 4WD capability, using Nissan's All-Mode 4x4-I system, which has Auto, 2WD, and 4WD Lock modes. There are 18-, 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels offered depending on the spec level. The Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid has distinct LED rear taillights and Nissan PureDrive badge work. It has also incorporated the EZ Flex seating system introduced in the regular new-generation model.
Nissan Australia is currently selling Pathfinder in four different variants with many new high-tech features but only offered with two engines, both petrol, with one a V6 and the other a hybrid.
Pathfinder ST is available in 3.5L V6 petrol engine or 2.4L hybrid engine. The 3.5L V6 petrol engine is rated at 202 kW and 340 Nm of torque, while the 2.5L supercharged petrol-electric hybrid engine is rated at 188 kW and 330 Nm.
The ST powered by the V6 petrol engine is offered in both 2WD and 4WD, while hybrid ST is only sold as 4WD. The entry-level Pathfinder ST is equipped with adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Pathfinder ST+ is only offered with a V6 petrol engine (2WD/4WD). The ST+ carries extra systems and is equipped with Nissan's 360-degree Around-View camera system with moving object detection, along with in-built satellite navigation for the touchscreen infotainment system.
The ST-L variant is the mid-level SUV with high-end features and is available with both engine options, V6 3.5L petrol engine (2WD/4WD) and 2.5L hybrid engine (4WD). The variant is loaded with extra options including a Bose premium audio system with 13 speakers including acoustic waveguide technology, front sunroof and panoramic glass roof, intelligent emergency braking with forward-collision warning, intelligent cruise control, and a smart around-view monitor with moving object detection.
The high end and premium version Pathfinder Ti is also available in two available engine options. The Ti variant is loaded with premium and AI-powered features, including heated and cooled front seats, motion-activated tailgate with position memory, Tri-zone entertainment system with wireless control and remote engine start.
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