2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE
2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE
Test Drive: 2008 Nissan Pathfinder LE-V8

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Nissan Pathfinder Reviews

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
2008 Nissan Pathfinder LE-V8
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.

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