Overview & Reviews
Once upon a time, somebody looked at a small, off-roading vehicle like the Nissan Pathfinder and said to himself: "You know, I think I could use that to replace the family station wagon. It's a lot cooler looking than dad's Country Squire. And I wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan." Since then, the Pathfinder and other SUVs have become increasingly larger and luxurious to meet the demand of millions of like-minded buyers.
You can see this evolution in the Pathfinder's timeline of four generations. The carlike current model excels as a three-row family hauler, and it's even available as a hybrid. Earlier Pathfinders -- and the third generation in particular -- were more rugged and capable for towing, but not as comfortable or fuel efficient.
Current Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder is a three-row crossover SUV that's offered in S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels. The base S trim is indeed pretty basic for this segment, so we think most people will be better served by the SV, which includes items like a power driver seat, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and an iPod interface. The two upper trims can be had with nearly all of the luxuries found on the mechanically related Infiniti JX35. Note that the Hybrid is not offered in S trim.
Powering the standard Pathfinder is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that sends 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels through a CVT (continuously variable transmission). The Pathfinder Hybrid pairs a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a 15-kilowatt electric motor, yielding a combined 250 hp and 243 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is optional with either powertrain. Hybrid fuel economy is estimated to exceed 25 mpg in mixed driving, while the regular Pathfinder stays in the low 20s.
In daily driving, the Pathfinder's ride is laudably comfortable and composed. If you're looking for agile handling, this Nissan may disappoint, but otherwise it's about as pleasant to drive as a big crossover can be. Performance is smooth and more than adequate with the V6, and the Hybrid promises meaningful efficiency gains without giving up too much acceleration.
Inside, the Pathfinder's cabin is put together well and boasts quality materials. Despite the abundance of features (especially in higher trims), the various controls are easy to reach and intuitive. The second-row seat slides and reclines to optimize comfort for passengers or cargo space behind as needs dictate. Access to the third row is eased by the second row's tilt and slide feature, which can be used even when a child seat is in place. The third row offers enough headroom for 6-foot passengers, but clearance gets a little tight beyond that, and legroom is limited.
If maximum space is a priority, some larger crossover SUVs such as the Chevrolet Traverse might be a better choice. But overall we're fond of the Pathfinder and think it fits very well with the typical family's needs and desires.
Used Nissan Pathfinder Models
The current, fourth-generation Nissan Pathfinder was completely redesigned for 2013 and represents a dramatic shift from its predecessor. The Pathfinder is now a car-based crossover SUV, boasting a more space-efficient cabin, better fuel economy, front- or all-wheel drive, V6 or hybrid power and a CVT. As a result, it is better to drive, cheaper to fill up and generally nicer to live with.
The most notable change for the current Pathfinder has been the introduction of the Hybrid model for 2014.
The previous, third-generation Nissan Pathfinder was produced from 2005-'12. Unlike its unibody predecessor and successor, this Pathfinder featured truck-based body-on-frame construction that lent it a commendably strong 7,000-pound towing capacity when properly equipped. However, it also made it heavier, less space-efficient inside and ponderous to drive.
Originally, the standard engine was a 4.0-liter V6 that produced 266 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque. For 2008, a 5.6-liter V8 became an option, making 310 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque that was more up to the task of lugging this heavy Pathfinder around. Both engines came standard with a five-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive, while a four-wheel-drive system was an option. As expected, fuel economy was not a strong suit for either engine.
The interior was roomy enough for four adults in the first two rows, but only little kids could fit in the third row. On the upside, most of Nissan's comfort and convenience features were offered, and its maximum cargo capacity of 79 cubic feet should still be enough for most folks.
Pathfinder buyers of this generation typically had a choice of four trim levels: base S, midgrade SV, the more luxurious Silver and the upscale LE. For those interested in using a Pathfinder for some off-roading, Nissan offered an SE Off Road 4x4 trim from 2005-'10 that featured such all-terrain items as special tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, hill descent control and hill start assist.
If you're looking at this generation Pathfinder, know that its strengths relate mostly to its power and towing capacity. For more typical family use, competing crossovers or SUVs of similar vintage will likely be better choices, including the Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Highlander or 4Runner.
The second-generation (1996-2004) Pathfinder debuted right when the SUV craze hit a fever pitch. A switch to carlike unibody construction (compared to the original truck-based model) afforded it significant gains in size, interior space and on-road agility, while shedding 200 pounds. The softer Pathfinder's unremarkable styling and wimpy engine (its V6 made just 166 hp) rendered it merely average within its crowded segment, though. A small backseat also made it less suitable for hauling children than some competitors.
Nissan followed a cosmetic update in 2000 with a much-needed engine upgrade in the form of its powerful VQ-series 3.5-liter V6. In the Pathfinder, it was good for an impressive 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The improvements added enough flavor to earn the Nissan Pathfinder two consecutive Edmunds.com Most Wanted awards, in 2001 and 2002.
Launched in 1986 for the 1987 model year, the original Nissan Pathfinder has roots that run deeper than most midsize SUVs. Initially, the Pathfinder was intended to appeal to the same youthful, active, mostly male buyers that Toyota appealed to with its 4Runner. Based on Nissan's compact pickup platform, the original Pathfinder looked macho and performed well off road, even though it was not terribly well equipped or spacious by today's standards. It wasn't very powerful either, even with the optional 3.0-liter V6. It was offered initially only in a two-door body style, later adding a four-door variant that ultimately became its only configuration in subsequent generations. Pathfinders were available with four- and six-cylinder engines, as well as rear- and four-wheel drive.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 1,678.00
Great SUV - 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
By scedarst - December 31 - 11:33 am
Love this new SUV. The fold down rear seat is great. DVD/Audio system is wonderful, lots of bass with the built in sub and you can play dvds through the headphones or car speakers easily.
Great SUV - 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
By Char - December 26 - 9:13 pm
I went to purchase a Toyota SUV and I stop by Nissan and I just love the look of the Pathfinder. The DVD and Navigation I love and so does my little daughter. It has so much style compared to the Toyota SUV's. I am happy I decided to purchase the Pathfinder LE.
Nothing Better In It's Class - 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
By Won Over - December 26 - 7:13 pm
The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is really a great vehicle. I bought the fully loaded LE with DVD and NAV. In comparison to luxury brands, the value here is tremendous. I also have an 2003 BMW X5, which drives very well. In comparing both, the Pathfinder holds its own. It handles great in snow and off road. I would prefer a stiffer suspension though. The Honda Pilot has more room, but not the off road handling or the looks. The Toyota 4Runner won't offer the sunroof or Limited version if you want the third row. No American car compares well at all. This Pathfinder replaces my 1990 Maxima, which I bought in 1990 - it has over 220,000 miles and is still going strong, so I really endorse the Nissan engineering.
I HAVE A P-FINDER - 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
By tony soprano - December 22 - 10:00 am
im from canada montreal just got a p- finder 2003 full equiped the LE sivlver and i love it litle expensive but worthed 45,000$ plus taxes this is canadian money. if ure looking 4 one trust me get it you wont go wrong at all .
Great Vehicle - 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
By Dave N. - December 21 - 9:20 pm
This is my first vehicle I have purchased and I'm glad I did. I have had nothing wrong with it. This has the best body style out of all the SUV's out there.
great so far - 2007 Nissan Pathfinder
By hiplainsdrftr - December 21 - 3:21 am
Bought used w 55k on it. I researched very well before buying. put almost 10 k on it. I had a 2002 qx4 for 8 years so it reminds me of the qx4 a lot. Very fun to drive, great in snow and heavy rain w auto feature. I get around 18 mpg in mixed driving. I actually bought an auxillary cooler to avoid the trans. issue. There was already one installed on the radiator by the first owner. Very sturdy leather as always w Nissan and very nice features in the LE. Nissan should recall the radiators though, I had mine go in my 05 Titan w only 68k on it.
Better than my BMW - 2005 Nissan Pathfinder
By littledude30542 - December 20 - 10:20 am
I traded in my 2002 bmw 525 for this new pathfinder. I originally was looking at the murano but a brown one in the showroom caught my eye. there was 4 sets of people looking at it. I bought it an hour later. first of all it has a wonderful 270 hp engine which is very smooth . The nav and dvd entertaiment are very nice for long haul trips. cargo room is very spacious and third row fold flat into the floor.It has nice leather surfaces and my bmw didnt even have leather and i paid more. Ive only owned this car for an hour too! I used to have a 1994 maxima and i put 200,000 miles on it wothout a problem so I trust this car. I have also driven a 4runner and this is ten times better.
1999 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4WD - 1999 Nissan Pathfinder
By byana - December 9 - 2:00 am
This is my 2nd Pathy - I LOVE 'EM!!! Best SUV for the money - not too big but not a "sport cute" either. Will pass anything on the road except a gas station - fuel economy is awful. But that's not why you drive this vehicle. The 4WD is stong and generates plenty of torque (even in the high range). OEM tires(BRIDGESTONE)don't last. Really should have 16" wheels from factory with better rubber.
New - 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
By Chief009 - December 9 - 2:00 am
I just got a new pathfinder and I love it! The engine is such a pleasure. It is smooth and powerful.
Luv my SUV - 2001 Nissan Pathfinder
By BJW - December 5 - 12:03 am
I bought my LE used with 24K. This is the most functional car/truck I've ever owned and the reliability is so far equal to my experience with Camrey's and Maxima's. I now have 55K and the only issue I have is with the Bose stereo. The CD/cassette function quit working at around 45K. Otherwise the reliability has been flawless. It hauls my stuff, my kids, and my trailer in all seasons and never lets me down. I test drove every conceivable competitor and for my needs this SUV had the right combination of power, space, torque, comfort, and handling. Very happy with my decision.