2004 Nissan Pathfinder SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2004 Nissan Pathfinder SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Nissan Pathfinder Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 240 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/19 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2004 Nissan Pathfinder

  • Although newer midsize SUVs offer more room and optional V8 power, the Pathfinder remains an appealing choice, thanks to its handsome interior, smooth V6 and carlike handling.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Smooth and powerful engine, carlike driving dynamics, high-quality interior, solid reliability record, rear entertainment system option.

  • Cons

    Tight rear accommodations, high price tag, no third-row seat option.

  • What's New for 2004

    The LE models are now called Platinum Editions and include electroluminescent gauges, aluminum door sill plates and special dark wood trim. Rounding out the minimal changes for this year are three new exterior colors -- Canteen, Luminous Gold and Platinum.

Full 2004 Nissan Pathfinder Review

What's New for 2004

The LE models are now called Platinum Editions and include electroluminescent gauges, aluminum door sill plates and special dark wood trim. Rounding out the minimal changes for this year are three new exterior colors -- Canteen, Luminous Gold and Platinum.


Nissan's hardy Pathfinder has frequently been a good choice for seeking a new path to the premium outlet center. Though the exterior may exude that tough-guy outdoorsy image, the interior has always been comfortable enough for the dilettante woodsman who doesn't like to get his nails too dirty. The current model's last full redesign dates back to 1996. That's a long time, but Nissan has been able to keep the Pathfinder relatively fresh by making frequent updates. In 2001, the company addressed the vehicle's biggest problem -- a lack of power -- by dropping in a 250-horsepower V6 engine. The interior was also restyled, and more standard features were added. We've long admired the Pathfinder for its excellent ride and handling, further enhanced by solid unibody construction. Quality construction, supportive front seats and useful features make the interior one of the friendliest of any SUV on the market. Last year, the Pathfinder received minor updates, including a stability control system and a tire-pressure monitor. Though the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner offer better overall packages, the Pathfinder still holds its own in the midsize SUV segment. It's reliable and offers an excellent compromise between a carlike ride and trucklike utility. For us, that's more than enough to warrant a solid recommendation.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

There are only two trim levels available: the SE and Platinum Edition. The SE includes features like 16-inch wheels, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and air conditioning. On the Platinum Edition, you get those features plus 17-inch wheels, leather seats, a moonroof, power front seats, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, automatic climate control, electroluminescent gauges, aluminum door sill plates and special dark wood trim. Most of these features can be ordered as optional equipment for the SE. For 4WD Pathfinders, heated front seats are optional on the SE and standard on the Platinum. Both models can be ordered with a wide array of optional equipment. Highlights include an entertainment system that offers a video or DVD player and ports to plug in a gaming console. The Pathfinder can also be equipped with an XM or Sirius Satellite Radio system.

Powertrains and Performance

The Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine. It makes a stout 240 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission. This powertrain provides plenty of power whether asked to haul sports equipment to the mountains on the weekends or merge onto freeways during rush hour commuting. The Pathfinder comes with either rear-wheel drive (2WD) or part-time four-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive SE models get a shift-on-the-fly transfer case that can be engaged at speeds up to 50 mph. On Platinum Edition models, a more advanced automatic All-Mode four-wheel-drive system is standard. If you want to tow, the Pathfinder can handle up to 5,000 pounds.


The 2003 Nissan Pathfinder comes with antilock front disc/rear drum brakes supplemented by Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Platinum Edition models come standard with front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags. These are optional on the SE. There is also an optional stability control system that helps to prevent dangerous skids and spins. If you are planning to load up five passengers, note that the rear seat's center position has just a two-point lap belt. The IIHS gave the Pathfinder an overall rating of "Marginal," the second-lowest ranking possible, for its 40-mph frontal offset crash test. In government crash testing, the Pathfinder earned four stars (out of a possible five) for frontal impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Pathfinder can haul a substantial 85 cubic feet of cargo, a surprising figure for what appears to be a relatively small vehicle. However, some of this space, in our humble opinion, should have been used to alleviate the cramped rear accommodations. There's just 31.8 inches of legroom for rear passengers, about five inches fewer than what is offered in the Ford Explorer.

Driving Impressions

The Pathfinder is easy to maneuver and pleasurable to drive on the freeway and on winding canyon roads. In the dirt, it's not as adept as some other SUVs (the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes to mind), but it is still quite capable when going off-road.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

15 of 23 people found this review helpful

Worst car/suv i ever had

by on
Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Pathfinder SE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

A lot of problems, SUV has under 100kmiles, service engine light all the time is there, bad catalitic converters and oxigen sensors, overheats uphill when I pull my boat, bad front suspension, bad brakes, piece of crap.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great vehicle, very reliable

by on
Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

Bought new in 2004 and never a problem yet. I maintain normal wear and tear items (Brakes, belts, fluids, battery & oil) and nothing seems to beak. Going to drive this truck to its grave.

Paint peeling

by on
Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Pathfinder LE Platinum 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

Upgraded to Nissan at the encouragement of my husband. Have owned since the end of December 2004. Great acceleration and performance. No longer have to stop several times during trips to stretch as the comfort level is very good. Downside is Contacted Nissan regarding Paint peeling but it is not considered under warranty.

From "nearly flawless" to "major

by on
Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

My first review was published at 2 yrs, 23K miles titled "Nearly Flawless". 3 years and almost 30K miles later the drivetrain performance still is. However this vehicle has developed a Major paint problem - the paint is flaking off the top of the lift gate and starting on the roof. I lose about 4 sq inches every time I wash! Nothing environmental or damaged and I am vigilant with maintenance. Just defective paint as far as I can tell. Nissan's response was basically "Sorry, it's out of warranty". Unfortunate, because it's an otherwise fantastic vehicle. I was a big fan and now they've lost a customer.

Great used suv

by on
Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Pathfinder LE Platinum 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I was a big North American fan on SUVs but I decided to try Japanese. So I did my research and found that the Pathfinder was rated very high, I found one at a small used car lot and the rest is history....what a great SUV. Motor, Tranny, look and feel A1. I can't stop driving it.

Reliable suv

by on
Vehicle: 2004 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)

I bought this SUV new in 2004 and I've never had one problem with it. I've only had to replace the normal things that wear. New belts, brakes, rotors, tires and a transmission fluid flush. Regular oil changes every 3-5k miles and not one problem! Very happy with this vehicle, it was our first Pathfinder and I'd definitely buy another one.

Talk About The 2004 Pathfinder

2004 Nissan Pathfinder Discussions See all Started By

I have a 2004 Pathfinder SE which has had an intermittent problem with squealing belts. The issue started approx 2 years and I have had the car serviced 4 different times. The problem was initially di...

I have a 2004 Pathfinder that had the power valve screws in the intake back out and fall in the cylinders and fry the engine. I have 33,000 miles on the car, but I am past the warranty period by six m...

I have a pathfinder 2004 le ,and its only got 64K on it and its now starting to make a knocking noise when its very quiet and at Idle , when I put it in drive the noise well seems to go away, I was t...

Gas Mileage


  • 15
  • cty
  • 19
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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