The Nissan Pathfinder is a 4×4 firmly from the old-school – big, tough, rugged and utilitarian. It’s the sort of 4×4 that people use if they want to cross deserts, rather than for taking their kids to school. The mixed reviews reflect its mixed suitability for the roads.

Space and comfort are rated highly in the Nissan Pathfinder ’s interior, which perhaps isn’t a surprise given the large exterior dimensions. You sit in front of a cleanly-styled dashboard and pleasingly high up. The driving position is good, though the steering wheel lacks adjustment to suit everyone.

Testers say that visibility in the Nissan Pathfinder is also good, and rear-view cameras assist with reversing. There’s plenty of boot space, and some models have an option of two small rear seats, making it a seven-seater. Small is the word though – they’re only really suitable for children.

Most off-roaders these days are really designed as cars first and 4x4s second, but not the Nissan Pathfinder. Go to the Middle East or Africa and you’ll see these everywhere, because they’re rugged enough to handle whatever the terrain can throw at them. That makes it marginally less pleasant to drive on the road than many modern off-roaders, but reviewers are still generally positive – the ride is well-damped, the steering accurate, and cruises well on the motorway. And of course, it’s fantastic off-road – if a little large for tighter squeezes.

The only engine available for the Nissan Pathfinder is a 2.5-litre turbo diesel, and it was revised a year or so ago, so you’ll see reviews of both the old one and the current 2012 one on carbuzz. The revisions focused mainly on power and efficiency, so whichever model you choose the gruff 2.5 still has the same slightly agricultural feel – a little noisy when accelerating and not massively smooth, but strong, torquey and it settles down at motorway speeds.

Performance is actually pretty good, newer versions reaching 60mph in 11 seconds. All that torque makes it a great load-lugger too – you won’t have any issues pulling trailers. Only the imprecise, the Nissan Pathfinder ‘s notchy gearbox may put you off, but it should prove tough.

Value for money
As reviews point out, you’re getting a lot of car for your money with the Nissan Pathfinder. The lack of a poncey image means you’re paying for the metal rather than the badge, and that means a large car starting at not much more than £23,000. Fuel consumption is only around 33mpg though, and road tax is high, so although it’s inexpensive to buy it’ll cost more to run than some softer 4x4s. Next to rivals like the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser, it does still offer good value.

Worth noting
For a little more money you can buy a seven-seat version, though these are only small, occasional seats mounted in the boot. If you need more utility, the Nissan Navara is similar to the Nissan Pathfinder, but offers a pickup bed rather than an enclosed cabin. Beyond that, there’s not a lot to note – what you see is what you get, with the Pathfinder.

It’s not the last word in refinement and as such may not be suitable for everyone on the road. It’s also not that economical, compared to modern road-biased 4x4s. However, if you need a car that you can work hard and cope with all sorts of conditions, the Nissan Pathfinder is well worth considering.