Combining decades of 4×4 truck expertise, real-world capability and a luxurious and refined ride, the last-generation Nissan Pathfinder was popular with Canadian families as an SUV that wasn’t afraid to roll up its sleeves and get dirty.
On sale from 1996 until 2004, the last-generation Pathfinder was eventually replaced for the 2005 model year. In 2001, Nissan updated and facelifted their ute, adding new styling cues and power from a new engine.
The post-2001 Pathfinder will be the main focus of this review– though much of the information applies to all models.
Pathfinders built after 2001 got between 240 and 250 horsepower from a 3.5-litre V6 which is highly acclaimed in the owner community. Most say the engine is plenty peppy, comfortable towing, and relatively decent on fuel, too.
Transmission choices included a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual, and a low-range equipped 4WD system with either push-button or lever-actuation was standard. Note that the manual transmission was eventually discontinued.
What owners like
Last-generation Pathfinder owners typically rave about the looks, power, ride quality and comfort levels of their machines. Off-road prowess, noise levels and overall driving confidence are highly rated, too.
What owners hate
Common last-generation Pathfinder complaints tend to centre around limited head and legroom, and a ‘slippery’ rear-end in two-wheel drive on wet or snowy surfaces. Finally, numerous owners gripe about having to feed their Pathfinders pricier premium fuel.
On a test-drive, be sure to scrutinize the condition of the used Pathfinder candidate’s leather seating (if equipped) for rips and tears. Ensure proper and relatively quick operation of all power windows, the CD player, and especially, the CD changer on higher-end models.
Be certain the instruments all illuminate and function properly, and the air conditioning blows cold within a few moments of being turned on.
Be sure the 4×4 system’s various modes can be easily engaged and disengaged as explained in the owner’s manual, too.
Have the underside of your used Pathfinder candidate inspected exhaustively for any signs of excessive rust, dents, off-road damage, leaks or holes. Differentials and axles should be inspected visually, as should brake lines, fuel lines and suspension components. If the Pathfinder you’re considering was formerly off-roaded carelessly or otherwise neglected, this is the time to check for potential problems.
A clean and well cared-for Pathfinder should prove a rewarding driving machine both on the road and off. Shoppers who find their ideal Pathfinder candidate will likely join a happy and proud community of Nissan truck owners.