I’D never heard of Aloe Blacc until the American singer performed at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games.
But I think he drives a Nissan Pathfinder N-Sport, a limited edition of the big 7-seater featuring 20-inch gloss black alloys, a black grille, black mirrors, roof rails and several more dark features, fore, aft and along the sills.
It’s very blaccc, which makes it stand out in the sea of SUVs on the road, and a bit different from other Pathfinders.
However, the body of our test vehicle was finished in a cool, slightly sparkling white.
Or ‘ivory pearl’ in Nissan-speak, which made a nice contrast.
It’s a big boy, a full seven seater, priced at $56,525 plus on-road costs, and powered by a powerful 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine that gives it impressive performance.
As for accommodation, it has a 2-3-2 arrangement, with the second row on rails and with reclining seats, so two people can probably live in it. The third row can also recline.
You can set it up in many ways, hence Nissan call it their EZ-flex system.
Park near a public place with ablution and barbecue facilities, preferably by the seaside or at a nicely-treed sports ground, and you have everything you need.
The Pathfinder has ample space for sleeping, its windows give a pretty good view, there are air vents for all three rows and you can do some stargazing on a clear night via its twin moonroofs.
Think about it: you can save about $1m by not buying a house.
After a week or two, just drive to the next public spot in the next city or state and enjoy life in a fresh environment.
Even entertainment is built into the big Nissan, which comes with an 8-inch infotainment screen with satnav, and a brilliant 13-speaker Bose stereo system with a big woofer (of the non-canine kind) in the boot, where the spare wheel should be.
For the winter months, switch on the heated leather seats. Bliss.
Another boon is a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera that lets you see just how much real estate your vehicle is occupying.
Electronic driver aids include autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, active cruise control systems and blind spot monitoring.
The touchscreen and driver info stuff is rather fiddly to operate and the thick A-pillars and big door mirrors do clutter up three-quarter forward vision, especially when negotiating roundabouts.
Also, I didn’t like its foot-operated parking brake, which might have been designed by Jake the Peg or someone else with three feet. However, the Americans like them.
For the rest, it’s a pretty decent thing, albeit of the XL size.
Then again, that’s by Oz standards. It’s nowhere as big as those earthmovers-disguised-as-SUVs that clog up the roads of America – and are starting to appear here too.
With all seats occupied, cargo space is 453 litres; drop the rearmost row and it grows to 1354 and with the second and third row both folded flat, you have a massive 2260 litres.
Its V6 puts out 202kW and 340Nm, which is more than enough to get it going. In fact, too much enthusiasm on take-off has the front wheels scrabbling for traction and it has instant response on the open road, making short work of overtaking. Zero to 100 km/h takes only about 8 seconds – pretty good for two tonnes of vehicle.
The Pathfinder range starts with the ST, priced from $42,000, then there’s the ST-L and it tops out at a smidgen under $70,000 for the Ti Hybrid. There’s a choice of 2WD and 4WD, petrol and hybrid. No diesels.
The N-Sport is based on the mid-spec ST-L.
It has a rather flary CV transmission, a light steering and it gives a quite firm but still comfortable ride on this 20-inch wheels.
The official fuel consumption figure is 9.9 litres/100 km, but in real life you can expect 11-plus.
The Pathfinder comes with a five-year, 100,000 km warranty.
Verdict: A practical and well-equipped family wagon with great space and pace.
Aloe Blacc’s real name, by the way, is Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III.
So maybe he doesn’t have a Pathfinder N-Sport after all.
- Strong V6
- Flexible interior
- Lots of features
- Build quality
- Parking brake
- Fiddly infotainment system
- Big mirrors, A-pillars