Pathfinder v Frontera

Submitted: Monday, Jan 13, 2003 at 22:53
ThreadID: 2944 Views:5191 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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I am currently considering buying a mid size 4wd. I want to use it to go camping, towing a trailer with gear up the beach or out bush.

Basically it comes down to either the 2002 ST Pathfinder or the 2002 SE Frontera.

Any opinions/experience would be appreciated.
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Reply By: dc - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 01:23

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 01:23
dont rule out the challenger have a look in the user forum under dc looking at challenger you may find some interesting reading.
AnswerID: 11249

Reply By: Savvas - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 08:24

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 08:24
Depends on your usage.

Pathfinder is a very good all rounder, with the Frontera and Challenger being more or less on par with each other with individual strengths and weaknesses

If you're after power, the Frontera is the better of the three and will tow and cruise very well. The 2002 model overcame the suspension hassles of the previous models. The TOD 4WD system on the SE is easy to use but you may find the lack of a locked up 4H range a bit disconcerting on the beach. Having said that, I have a Holden Monterey with TOD and it has no problems with sand driving in 4WD Auto mode. The Isuzu implementation of Borg Warner's TOD system is a hell of a lot faster acting than the Ford Explorer's. Mainly because Isuzu did the design calibrations here in Australia and not in the USA.

That's where the Pathfinder shines. The 4WD system has as many modes as you can possibly think of so you'll never be left wanting. It also has the _Affordable_Storage_Drawers.aspx capabilities of the three. However, the ageing engine design lets it down a little especially when highway cruising.

The Challenger, doesn't do anything badly. It just doesn't do anything particularly well either. The motor has more get up and go than the Pathy, but not as good as Frontera's. The suspension setup is better than the Frontera's but not as good as the Pathy's. And the 4WD setup is a part time with auto hubs. The only thing that would put me off Mitsubishi is that I've heard more bad stories about their after sales service than most other brands. The products themselves are generally quite good though.

I'd probably go the Pathfinder. However, make sure you check the towing capacities for the vehicles you are looking at. Both max load and ball download need to be looked at to ensure that it's rated for what you want to tow. For example the Pathfinder is rated for 2000kg max capacity and a 200kg ball download. While the Frontera is also rated for 2000kg with no info on ball weight and the Challenger is rated for 2270kg and no info on ball weight.
AnswerID: 11254

Reply By: David - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 12:51

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 12:51

I am lucky enough to get a Frontera "S" as a Company vehicle. We only keep them for 15000 kms so I am about to get my 3rd one next week. While I cannot compare them to the others you are looking at, I can offer the following advice.

Around Town and on the open road they are great. Amazing power, but a little thirsty on the petrol. The 1st one I had and the second one I am about to change over have both averaged 13.5 L/100kms so I would expect this to be the norm.

It handles gravel roads great.

On the sand is brilliant provided the tyres are down to around 15psi.

The biggest failing is the position of the fuel tank which hangs below the chassis rails and that acts as a ground anchor when going through some of the ruts on the beach. If you make your own tracks you will have no problems.

Other than that, a really good car.


AnswerID: 11271

Reply By: flappan - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 13:27

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 13:27
I would put the Pathy slightly ahead, but this is another of those where I feel that the difference bewteen them is slight and comes down to test drving them and personal preference.
AnswerID: 11273

Reply By: OziExplorer - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 15:24

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 15:24
I have a friend with Frontera who just cannot get body panel parts. Has been waiting now for six months. His wife side swipped a bridge, fortunatly not too severe, is still waiting a left hand side headlight assy, a left hand front guard, and few other bits and pieces. Holden are just no help at all. This is not an isolated issue on Frontera parts, it is a bit of an ongoing saga for more than just this one person. With this being last model Frontera that will be imported and with the low volume of sales, I think I would go with the Pathfinder.
AnswerID: 11285

Follow Up By: Savvas - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2003 at 07:56

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2003 at 07:56
Hi Ozi,

Get your friend to give Jackeroo World ( a buzz. They may be able to help out.

Worth a try if they've been waiting that long.
FollowupID: 6246

Follow Up By: Oziexplorer - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2003 at 08:25

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2003 at 08:25
Thanks for that info Savvas I will pass it on to him. Poor guy is really frustrated. He is going to park outside the Holden dealer he bought the vehicle from next week with signs plastered all over the vehicle. Will be interesting to see if it gets a result, as the dealer has been no help and just basically laughed in his face - not good.
FollowupID: 6249

Reply By: Hawk - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 19:55

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2003 at 19:55
Thanks for the feedback. I am leaning fairly well toward the Pathfinder. It's always good to hear real life examples.
Thanks All.
AnswerID: 11297

Reply By: Graham - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2003 at 21:45

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2003 at 21:45
Have a 1999 Pathfinder, done 65,oookm...around 25,000 of that towing 16ft 10 and 17ft van...... 4x4 system is magic.....the vehicle is a pleasure to dirve both on and off road, .......main reason I chose it over Frontera is the rear tail gate set up.. and no spare hanging off it... the Frontera opens from the road side so is made for lleft hand drive...

Take them both for a drive....Frontera has power, but Pathy has the ride..
AnswerID: 11351

Reply By: Slunnie - Friday, Jan 17, 2003 at 20:13

Friday, Jan 17, 2003 at 20:13
G'day Hawk,

I have owned an SE Frontera, and thought it was a pretty good vehicle. Like all vehicles it did have some problems like the reversed boot door and a relatively low ride height. This was fixed with 2 rear coils ($250)and the whole 4WD was wound up by 65mm (don't change the shocks) - this was more than enough clearance for what I was doing. The ride is very compliant, though it does sit close to the bump stops which can make it harsh over the big bumps, though $250 fixes this. This may sound silly but the bumpstops are part of the progressive suspension system in them and act to compress quite deliberately. It is as good as any other vehicle to camp with and comes standard with roof rails if you want more space, the seats are comfy and it has climate control. 4wd activation is a cinch and fool proof (if there is such a thing). I initially bought the thing to tow with especially considering the huge power output it has, and it towed quite well, though I would make sure they fit a transmission cooler irrespective of what the dealer tells you. The rear diff, where you will get most of the wear when towing is a huge Dana unit from the US (where the 4WD is built) and I suspect indestructable. The rear axle is bigger than Patrol and Landcruiser axles, and when you are looking down the track at 250,000kms later with towing I think you will be pleased. On the sand you will not find a better vehicle, it is a rocket and is very difficult to bog, infact I drove from Anna Bay to the Sygna on Stockton beach quite easily in 2WD with deflated tyres. I know it's a big call, though I will happily make it. Out in the bush, the Frontera has limited suspension travel like every other IFS 4WD out there. You can get all the gear for it now like the ARB bars, winches, rear diff lock (which the axle would handle easily) and extra 80l fuel tank giving 160l total if you want to get serious with it. It also has a very strong chassis sitting under that pretty body that will handle the towing and heavy loads for years.

AnswerID: 11452

Reply By: Member - Rohan - Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 21:51

Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 21:51
Hawk, we just purchased a Pathfinder, following the same decesion dilemas. We were not impressed with thr Frontera's driver legroom or built quality. The Pathfinder is much better. My wife found the Challenger more difficult to enter and exit as the seats are set further "inside". Again, the challenger build quality didn't seem quite up to par against the Pathie.

The Pathie has the least powerful, both power and torque, motor, running at about 15% or so less than the other two. This has resulted in us being a little disappointed in its towing capacity up long and/or steep hills. I'm guessing it will suffer a bit in soft (desert) sand too. We tow a 1,200kg camper-trailer.

However, we bought the Pathie for its overall quality and better on-road and off-road manners. We haven't been disappointed (other than when towing up hills) - its a really nice vehicle to drive. I originally thought the Pathfinders 4WD selector was a marketing gimmick but it works really well.

I'd skip the Challenger. Consider the Frontera if you want more power (and "ruggedness") and the Pathfinder if want a better "balanced" performer. Drive them both a few more times before you decide. Good luck!


AnswerID: 13072

Follow Up By: Hawk - Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 22:01

Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 22:01
Thanks For the reply. We have bought the Pathfinderas well (get it in two weeks) for many of the reasons you stated and the fact that no one has a bad word to say about them.
What sort of fuel economy do you get out of it?
FollowupID: 7649

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan - Friday, Feb 14, 2003 at 22:14

Friday, Feb 14, 2003 at 22:14
Hey Hawk, welcome to "the club". You'll enjoy the Pathfinder.

Nissan claim 15l/100kms around town but we haven't bettered 16/100 yet and have regularly clocked 17/100 around the "burbs" - probably the air-con. The best I've done, without additional aids is 15/100 on a cruise up the Freeway and yes, I was going easy on the gas. With two Hiclones fitted we got 12.8/100 on a recent freeway trip. However, if you use the right foot a bit you can expect to use up to 18 to 20/100.

Not having owned a gas guzzler since the heady days of V8 powered FJ40 Landcruisers, and having recently owned a Subaru Outback (getting 9/100), I'm a little disappointed with the Pathie. But with Nissan claiming 15/100, I can't say I wasn't forewarned.

That aside, its a great vehicle. have fun.
FollowupID: 7690

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