2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE. Click image to enlarge
|Test Drive: 2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE
Test Drive: 2008 Nissan Pathfinder LE-V8
Manufacturer’s web site
Owner Reviews on autoTRADER.ca
By Chris Chase
Photos by Jil McIntosh and Haney Louka
In its early days, the Nissan Pathfinder was the backbone of the company’s SUV range, a vehicle that, at one point, was almost as well-known as the Jeep Cherokee. SUV buyers preferences began to change, however, as more SUVs morphed into, or were replaced by, car-based crossovers better suited to the urban driving conditions most SUVs were used for.
In Nissan’s case, it introduced its sleek car-based Murano in 2003, two years before it redesigned the Pathfinder into its third generation, complete with body-on-frame construction. That went perfectly counter to the emergent crossover trend, but kept the Pathfinder as a competitor to other popular SUV holdovers like the Ford Explorer.
Ford turned its mid-sized Explorer into a car-based crossover in 2011, and Nissan is following a similar path with the 2013 Pathfinder, set to arrive in late 2012.
The third-generation Pathfinder debuted as a 2005 model, a much larger truck than the one it replaced, complete with three-row seating the old Pathfinder’s small interior could never have accommodated.
2008 Nissan Pathfinder LE-V8. Click image to enlarge
A 4.0L version of Nissan’s (then, and still) well-known 3.5L V6 was the only engine offered; its 270 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque went through a five-speed automatic. Four-wheel drive was standard, but the type differed depending on trim. The XE, SE and SE Off-Road got a part-time system with two-speed transfer case, and the LE got an electrically-actuated “all-mode” 4WD system that included an automatic setting.
The 2005 Pathfinder XE came with air conditioning, power windows, heated power mirrors, cruise control, cloth seats, six-speaker stereo, trip computer, floor mats, 16-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent front wipers and intermittent rear washer/wiper.
The mid-line SE added dual-zone climate control, rear air conditioning/heater/ventilation controls, power-adjustable driver’s seat, upgraded cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and fog lights.
An SE Off-Road package included off-road tires, underbody skid plates, hill descent control and upgraded shocks.
Top-trim LE models got a sunroof, leather seating, nine-speaker stereo, heated seats, power-adjustable pedals, driver’s seat memory and 17-inch alloy wheels.
In 2006, the XE trim was renamed S, leather became an option in the Off-Road model, and all Pathfinder trims were upgraded to the all-mode 4WD system.
Changes for 2007 were minor: the front passenger window got an auto up/down function; leather was available in SE trim, and the stereo got an auxiliary input.
Nissan made bigger changes in 2008, including adding an optional 5.6L V8 engine, refreshed styling, 17-inch wheels for V6 models and 18s with the V8, and side and curtain airbags were made standard in all models. S and SE models used the V6 engine, and the LE got the V8 as standard.