The Nissan Pathfinder | Part Two

ALL-MODE electronic four-wheel drive and traction control

Pathfinder’s key features underline its rich four-wheel drive heritage. It features a robust body-on-frame design with the latest version of Nissan’s acclaimed ALL-MODE electronic four-wheel drive technology, a system that’s as easy to use as it is sophisticated. As well as incorporating ESP and traction control, the new system in Pathfinder has added dexterity thanks to a low ratio mode for added grip and manoeuvrability in mud or snow.

One reason for ALL-MODE’s success is its simplicity (at least as far as the user is concerned). With grip and stability constantly being monitored electronically, it’s a fit-and-forget system that gets you out of trouble before you know you’re in it.

But despite its authentic SUV credentials, Pathfinder is not a huge off-roader. At 4.74m long, it is shorter than a typical seven-seat MPV (Chrysler Voyager, 4.8m) and is shorter even than a family estate such as the 4.82m long Vauxhall Vectra. And at 1763mm in height, it’s shorter than a Land Rover Discovery (1832mm).

Simple access to third row seating

Simplicity and ease of use are themes running through Pathfinder’s design. For example, though the entry-level S version has five seats, most Pathfinders will be sold with seven seats in three forward-facing rows.

In most seven seaters, getting to the rearmost set of seats is something best undertaken by people with a maths degree. Or the average 10 year old. In the Pathfinder, however, it’s a simple matter of folding and flipping the middle row forwards - a one-handed, single action - to create ample space in which to access the rear. The same goes for exiting. In addition, the rear side doors open to an unusually wide angle of 85 degrees.

Naturally, both middle and rear seats fold completely to provide a flat load area and, again, practicality is the key - it takes just one action to fold the third row of seats to increase luggage space, an operation that needs up to 10 actions in some rivals. Folding the third row of seats can also be undertaken from outside the vehicle. Each seat has a simple release handle which when pulled allows the backrest to be folded forwards onto the seat squab.

The front passenger seat also folds, giving a 2.8m long uninterrupted load area. Nissan would like to apologise in advance to Pathfinder-owning husbands who now have no excuse not to spend weekends at flat-packed furniture stores. When the football’s on.

Indeed, so practical is the interior that during its development, engineers were assigned the task of finding out just how many different seat/cargo configurations there were. They gave up when they reached 64…

continues... | Part Three
Published 11 February 2005 Melanie Carter

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