Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCi Trek

While the Pathfinder’s styling is quite different to the Nitro’s, it is still a robust looking SUV.

  • Superior build quality and more upmarket feel than in Nitro, torquier and more responsive engine
  • Noisy manoeuvring and awkward reverse gear give an agricultural feel – at least until speed picks up

While the Pathfinder’s styling is quite different to the Nitro’s, it is still a robust looking SUV. In plain white and sitting on raised suspension, our Pathfinder has a touch of Dakar rally race car look to it. And although the Trek’s new 17-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels are much smaller than the Nitro’s 20-inch rims, they are fitted with wide Goodyear Wrangler tyres and fill the Nissan’s wheelarches well.

The compromise, however, is that the off-road biased tyres don’t make the Nissan a quiet cruiser on the motorway – and the Pathfinder itself is noisy at low speeds. When manoeuvring out of a tight parking space, for example, the engine sounds very loud. It’s not easy to engage reverse gear in the six-speed manual box and when you drive it for the first time, initial impressions are of a rather agricultural vehicle.

Happily, the Pathfinder’s rough nature disappears once you get up to speed. The engine is reasonably quiet and the changes from the gearbox become smoother and more direct.

While the Nissan rarely feels slow on the road, it doesn’t have the pace or response of the faster Dodge. The brakes aren’t as powerful as those of its American rival, and on a wet road, the ABS can come into action too early. The Japanese car took 55.3 metres to come to a halt from 70mph, whereas the Dodge stopped in 52.7 metres.

But it’s not all bad news. While the chunky tyres don’t help the stopping performance, they give the Pathfinder the edge away from tarmac. On top of that, the Nissan has the advantage of a low-ratio gearbox, and is easily the more accomplished mud-plugger of the two.

Due to its off-roading prowess, you would expect there to be a fair amount of body roll to contend with on tarmac. But, importantly, the Nissan is more stable and reassuring than the Nitro. The Pathfinder’s steering is more accurate, its body control tighter and its handling tidier. Although the ride can be firm over urban potholes, it’s certainly a more comfortable car than the Dodge on longer journeys.

Inside, the Pathfinder is more modern than the Nitro. Granted, the recently revamped plastics are not up to the standard of more upmarket SUVs, but they are considerably better than those found in the Dodge. Despite lacking the Nitro’s steering-mounted stereo controls and powered seat adjustment, the Nissan is much easier to get comfortable in. Cabin stowage is better, as well.

In the back, there’s plenty of space for passengers, even if legroom isn’t quite a match for the Nitro’s, and the padding is rather firm. What’s more, the Nissan’s boot is larger – 515 litres, as opposed to 389 litres for the Dodge – and more practical. The seat bases tumble forward and the backrests fold to give a flat load area, and there’s a small plastic waterproof storage area under the rear chairs. Higher-spec Sport and Aventura trims offer additional seats that fold into the boot floor, but this base Trek model doesn’t get them. However, the two recesses in their place offer handy additional storage space.

At £23,395, the Pathfinder is marginally cheaper than the £23,590 Nitro. And although it’s not as well equipped, the Nissan’s robust feel enhances the impression of quality.

Details

  • Price: £23,395
  • Model tested: Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCi Trek
  • Chart position: 1
  • WHY: The recently revamped Pathfinder has a cavernous interior and excellent off-road abilities.

Economy

Neither SUV is economical, but the Nissan has the edge, returning 25.5mpg. Add in a larger, 80-litre fuel tank, and the Pathfinder can cover 449 miles between fill-ups.

Residuals

The Nissan holds its value better. After three years, it should still be worth £11,160 – or 47.7 per cent of its price new. That compares to the Nitro’s lowly 40.4 per cent.

Servicing

Three services will cost Pathfinder owners £1,037. There are 220 Nissan UK outlets, but the network came a poor 26th out of 32 in the Driver Power 2007 dealer survey.

Tax

The Pathfinder also sits in tax band G, thanks to its 264g/km output. But as it costs slightly less than the Dodge to buy, higher-rate users face a lower £3,275 tax bill.

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