Nearly two months with the New Nissan Pathfinder and a whole school summer Christmas holiday ahead of us. What better way to put the New 2023 Nissan ‘R53″ Pathfinder properly through its paces and find out how it copes with ALL aspects and expectations of family life…
With my mother-in-law visiting from the UK, we are a family of five for the holidays; three adults and two kids in child seats which is a pretty common scenario for a lot of families.
In our exciting adventures ahead we will test an eight-seat 2023 Pathfinder Ti for on-road comfort for all of our family of five, the boot capabilities when we pack it up with everything but the kitchen sink for our ten-day X-Mas holiday up to the mountains and on motorways and windy country lanes.
We'll use it as our daily beach bus, to take us and all our watersports equipment to our local beaches and see how we all fit and just how much sand the kids can manage to bring home with them and get into EVERY crevice of the car!
No summer holiday would be complete without a camping trip and a good bit of beach off-roading! Nissan claims the 2023 Pathfinder promises to be capable off-road so I am looking forward to putting it through its paces with all our camping gear on board.
We even wrap Christmas presents in the boot!
Branded as the new family seven or eight-seater with off-road capability, I wanted to really put the 2023 Pathfinder through its paces and find out if it really could cut the mustard…
Now when it comes to mustard I like the really strong British stuff most of the time but I also enjoy the guilty pleasure of American hotdogs with ketchup and mustard every once in a while. So I’m expecting the Pathfinder to fulfil both!
2023 Pathfinder Test 1: O'Reilly's family holiday
First up is our big pre-Xmas family. Mum, dad, two kids and my mother in law heading to the Gold Coast hinterland for our ten-day rainforest adventure at O'Reilleys Retreat at the top of a mountain in the Lamington National Park.
The 2023 Pathfinder is available as a seven-seater with two captains chairs in the second row and a three-seat bench seat in the third row or an eight-seater with a three-seat bench in both the second and third rows, I opted for the eight-seater so we could seat all five of us in the first two rows and put the third row of seats flat and have an enormous boot space.
My testing showed 22 bags of shopping will fit in the boot but we had a lot more than that to cram in for ten days at the top of a mountain!
With the boot all loaded up with clothes, scooters, food, toys and everything else, I am worried when I park our 2023 Pathfinder for our lunch stop that the food will get hot and passersby can see in but the rear window tints are so dark in the Ti model that I have no one can really see in and the food stays nice and cool. Also, the rear passengers are shaded from the sun while driving which is great!
Both my girls are in child seats so we left the central seat empty for an adult to use and keep the kids apart so there wasn't squabbling all the way! I put the Infasecure Attain More child seat rear-facing behind the front passenger and the Infasecure Aspire More forward-facing booster behind the driver's seat.
I (162cm) took turns with my 186cm husband and 173cm mother-in-law to sit in the middle between the two child seats and we all found it fairly comfortable for this long distance. The flat floor really helped and we found the second-row seats sat quite high so you had great visibility which I’m sure helped with preventing travel sickness.
The Lamington National Park is a favourite holiday of ours and our eldest daughter always gets travel sick on this very twisty journey up and down the mountain. We found however that in the 2023 Pathfinder she didn’t get any travel sickness on the way up the mountain and only a tiny suggestion of it on the way down. This is AMAZING for her and testimony to the Pathfinder's smooth and controlled ride as we normally end up with full-scale vomiting both ways!
The large windows in the Pathfinder make it possible to really enjoy the views driving up and down the mountain as we wind up through dairy pasture and sweeping green hills to the hanging vines, stinging trees and towering trees of the rainforest at the top of the mountain.
The road at the top of the mountain is renowned for its dreadful surface and potholes, which I have to say did not feel anywhere near as bad in the 2023 Pathfinder which is testimony to its suspension. It coped with that decaying road better than pretty much any car we've driven up here in, and we come here A LOT!
Reaching the top of the mountain and having completed its first task, the Pathfinder sat almost redundant for ten days while we bush-walked, trekked up and down the mountainside and, this time taking on some of our more adventurous tracks yet, enjoyed some of the most amazing and idyllic rainforest and waterfalls we'd ever seen.
To decide if the 2023 Pathfinder passed its first challenge, on some of our day-long walks we discussed it and decided because of how comfortable it was for our journey.
The lack of travel sickness and smoothness of the road at the top of the hill and how well it held ALL our belongings meant the 2023 Pathfinder Ti passed the first test with flying colours. And we enjoyed the ride back down the mountain and home again at the end of the holiday. Ready for test number two!
2022 Pathfinder test 2: Watersports
Having returned from the cool mountain air of the rainforest to the heat and salty spray of the coast, it was time to put the Pathfinder through our regular daily routine of beach trips with various water-based equipment.
We are usually a paddle-boarding family but upon our return home, Santa had delivered a new kayak and two bodyboards to our household so the next test for the new Pathfinder on Boxing Day was our family of five, an inflatable stand-up paddle board, a kayak, three bodyboards and three paddles. Which I have to say the 2023 Pathfinder managed with relative ease.
The second and third-row seats are split 60:40. So putting the 40% side down in both rows left a nice long slide-through for the kayak.
Our largest child sat in the third row in her Infasecure Aspire More child seat because there is a top tether anchorage in the third-row seat. She's thinking it is the most exciting trip ever!
The smallest child is in her Infasecure Attain More is in the second-row seat. I sat in the central seat and the other two tallest adults sat in the front. Everyone is comfortable and with enough legroom.
Underneath the boot floor is a large plastic storage area great for throwing the girl's scooters in on the way there and everyone's wet gear into to get it home.
The inflatable paddle boards roll up nicely to fit in the large boot space behind the third-row seat, and the 12V socket in the boot is perfectly positioned to plug in the electric pump for inflating and deflating the board. It's a small detail but the socket is located on the kerb side of the boot which makes it well-positioned for this kind of use.
So it's another big tick from our family for beach days in the Nissan Pathfinder. Apart from the inevitable amount of sand that the kids dragged into the poor Pathfinder each day, it coped very well with our daily beach trips and I am starting to think I might miss this car!
2022 Pathfinder test 3: Camping & off-roading
Our final test for family capability and compatibility is a camping trip with friends to Noosa North Shore once my mother-in-law had flown back to England. With a different set of equipment to carry requiring a different seat configuration AND off-road driving on the sand, I would be lying if I didn't say I was nervous! I thought there is no way this large eight-seat SUV was going to make it up the beach so let's see how it goes…
First up is loading all our camping gear in; two double swags take up A LOT of room and we had no roof racks to put them up top. So we decided upon putting the second-row seat behind the driver down and I managed to install both girls' Infasecure Aspire More and Attain More child seats next to each other in the remaining second-row seats. I know this means they will be very close together and the chances of “she's touching me” and “she looked at me” are very high but I have no other option and have to hope at least one of them falls asleep early in the journey!
With the third-row seats folded flat, both swags fit down the driver's of the car and we discovered that with the driver's seat in my position (I'm a fair bit shorter than hubby at 162cm!) Then we gained an extra foot of space behind them to fit more things in.
With everything fitting (just) into the rest of the 2023 Pathfinder's enormous boot, including the camping kitchen sink, we were all loaded in. Thankfully the child car sleeping fairies looked kindly upon us and our smallest girl falls asleep before we hit the highway!
Stopping in Tewantin (a quaint little town where you take the barge over to the Noosa North Shore) we get a few last essentials of marshmallows and water! Again I am pleased to have the dark rear tinted windows for privacy with all our belongings on board and also to keep the food and Esky out of the sun.
The barge is great fun for the kids, paying $10 each way to cross it takes less than five minutes.
It's then just a short drive on the bitumen to the campsite where we are greeted in our reserved area by our friends and a large kangaroo who seems happy to see us.
Our camping set-up is a pretty basic affair compared to those of our friends who show up with utes, towing trailers or even two whole cars packed with gear. We set up the swags and the kitchen table while the girls get reunited with their friends after five weeks apart!
The kids' imaginations are so good while camping and they all entertain each other in so many ways; pulling each other in the beach karts and pretending they are on a train, collecting cicada shells from the trees, colouring, totem tennis just being together is fun for them and there is fresh air, nature and not a screen in sight!
As everyone arrives in their seasoned Nissan Navara, Toyota LandCruiser and Ford Ranger four-wheel-drives that they are used to taking up and down the beach, they ask if we're taking the Pathfinder up the beach tomorrow.
We all ummed and ahhhed over whether it can make it, the condition of the track and the tide times. I'd be lying if I said I had no doubts about the Pathfinder being capable of going up the beach! It's quite low to the ground compared to all the other vehicles here, with tyres best suited to sealed roads.
As we all settle in with a cold beer and a catch-up around the campfire at night the conversation swings around again to the next day's tide times and what time we should set off in the morning. Hubby and I look at each other, both thinking we're going to spend the day getting bogged! We all decide we will give it a go in the morning and see how the Pathfinder copes, if it's not looking good then we'll head back but we'll at least have a go.
Something we discover as night falls is how many lights and screens are lit up in the 2023 Pathfinder when you have the boot and doors open for quick access to your camping bits and bobs. We were worried about getting a flat battery so were pleased to find settings in the driver's display to turn them all off, including deactivating the electric tailgate that is forever going up and down as you go to and from the car to get stuff while camping.
This solved, we relax and enjoy an evening of laughter and marshmallows with the kids around the campfire…
…With a bit of late-night crab spotting on the beach which the kids thought was wild!
The next morning we all get ready for our beach drive. With our camping gear all set up, we have eight available seats now which is handy because one family with us have arrived in a small hatchback. Luckily the Pathfinder has enough seats for them to come in with us. Weighed down with four adults and four kids on board, we head off to the beach with Maxtrax and snatch strap at the ready!
The kids are excited and the adults a little apprehensive as we let down the tyres at the beach entrance (made much easier by the 2023 Pathfinder's onboard tyre pressure monitoring system), selected sand mode and hit the sand!
On the way up the beach, the tide was out and the sand was pretty good. Not too chopped up and with enough beach to choose your best path. The Pathfinder coped extremely well and with whoops and cheers along the way, it made it very comfortably up the beach to the mouth of the Noosa River for our swim!
Hours of swimming and kite flying later it was time to load up our wildlings and head back towards camp. We'd all got our timing a bit out of whack so it was still a pretty high tide and there was only a single track width of beach in places, which made driving a very different story heading back.
The beach was gnarly and luckily the cars that had apparently just been bogged there had got out of our way in time for our arrival meaning we didn't have to stop and lose precious momentum because it was a tricky drive back.
The ruts were deep but the Pathfinder coped really well. I could feel and hear the sand scraping underneath but at no point did I think we are in trouble, the Pathfinder just kept powering through! The beach exit was fun and the kids all gave a loud cheer when we made it back onto the bitumen.
Returning to camp we all discuss the Pathfinder's surprising capabilities over sausages, marshmallows and cold beer around the campfire while the children return to their imaginative games.
The morning brings a change of weather and we all prepare for a hasty departure, via the “car spa” to clean all the underside and sand and salt off the Pathfinder.
With two very tired girls, back in their bickering spots in the rear, we take the barge back over to Tewantin.
Luckily the girls are asleep again before we hit the highway, our souls all very full from fun, friends and fresh air.
So it's another great tick of approval for the Pathfinder as it passes the off-road and camping test with our family.
We have been very pleasantly surprised by the Pathfinder's off-road capabilities during our time with the car as well as enjoying the flexibility of the seating. Raising and lowering different seats and moving passengers' locations to enable everything we needed to fit in the back of the car. The 2023 Pathfinder's third-row top tether anchorage and 60:40 split second and third-row seats made it possible for us to change child seat locations as needed.
The suspension was good for bumpy and potholes road surfaces but not so soft and roly-poly as many large SUVs, meaning we didn't have to worry about travel sickness on roads we know are usually renowned for it.
In this age of sky-high fuel prices, not to mention protecting the environment for our kids' future, our only concern about the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is its gas-guzzling V6 petrol engine. There's no diesel or hybrid option, nor any news that Nissan is even going to make these available.
If using a bit more than 10 litres of petrol every 100km in mixed usage is okay for you, then the quiet and smooth nature of the petrol engine might be appealing. That said for your daily suburban driving it gets thirstier than that and you don't want to know how much fuel it used on the beach!
Apart from that, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder stood up to this ridiculously tough test with flying colours. It proved itself to be a great family all-rounder, serving solidly from daily commuter and school-run shuttle to holiday hauler, beach bus and off-road camping adventure machine.