Full 2007 Nissan Pathfinder Review
What's New for 2007
For 2007, the Nissan Pathfinder gets a couple of minor tweaks, including the addition of a safety reverse feature for the passenger-side windows and an input jack for MP3 players. The vehicle has also been bumped up a notch in its California emissions rating, moving to LEV2 ULEV status.
In recent years, the Nissan Pathfinder has been on the horns of an identity crisis. Born in 1986, the sport-ute was originally conceived as a rugged outdoorsman. It was a two-door, body-on-frame hauler designed to tackle trails with the best of them, and its clarity of purpose won the Nissan its share of fans. Over time, though, its focus shifted. The Pathfinder grew to become a four-door, and it adopted a unibody design geared more toward on-pavement performance -- all the better to please the suburban soccer moms who comprised an ever-increasing slice of the SUV market.
In the wake of a 2005 redesign, the current-generation Pathfinder finds the midsize sport-ute revisiting its roots. The SUV has returned to a truck-based platform, this time with underpinnings similar to the full-size Nissan Titan. Off-road handling has once again been pushed to the top of the priorities list; the 2007 Nissan Pathfinder boasts a maximum ground clearance of as much as 9.1 inches, and steep approach and departure angles. Hill Descent Control (HDC) keeps speeds in check on sharply raked descents, and a Hill Start Assist (HAS) system prevents the vehicle from rolling back when shifting from brake to throttle on ascents. On-road handling is mostly amenable, but the Pathfinder's composure slips when faced with bumps and road irregularities.
Running contrary to the Pathfinder's more rugged focus is the fact that third-row seating is now standard, as Nissan attempts to keep it on par with other midsize SUVs in terms of seating capacity. It can accommodate up to seven. Although kid-friendly and well-equipped, the interior loses points for its somewhat cramped dimensions in the second and third rows. Additionally, build and materials quality are a mixed bag.
We find the Pathfinder's reversal somewhat perplexing. This Nissan has much to offer those seeking a competent trail-busting companion, but most SUV buyers place an emphasis on refinement, both in terms of on-road handling and cabin aesthetics. Unless boulder-bashing is at the top of your agenda, we'd suggest taking a look at competitors like the Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner/Highlander and Honda Pilot before buying a 2007 Nissan Pathfinder.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A midsize SUV, the 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is available in four trim levels: S, SE, SE Off-Road and LE. The S, SE and LE are available with either two- or four-wheel drive, while the SE Off-Road is available as a 4x4 only. The base S offers amenities like 16-inch alloy wheels, power accessories, keyless entry, a CD stereo and cloth seating for seven. The Pathfinder SE adds wider tires, a roof rack with cross bars and a center pull-down armrest in the backseat, in addition to a longer options list. The SE Off-Road trim comes standard with heavy-duty Rancho shocks, underbody skid plates and additional electronic systems to improve off-road performance. The top-of-the-line Pathfinder LE is upgraded with upscale amenities like 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated leather seating and a Bose audio system. Optional items include satellite radio, a navigation system and a DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is a 4.0-liter V6 engine rated for a stout 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available, and both two- and four-wheel-drive versions are offered. S, SE and SE Off-Road models have part-time 4WD, while the LE gets a full-time system with an all-wheel-drive mode. SE Off-Road models feature advanced traction systems like Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and electronic limited-slip control for enhanced off-pavement capability. Properly equipped, the Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
Front-seat side airbags are standard on all Nissan Pathfinders, along with stability control and antilock disc brakes. LE models come standard with side curtain airbags that protect all three rows; these are optional on all other models. In NHTSA testing, the Pathfinder earned four out of five stars for front-occupant protection in head-on impacts. Five stars were awarded for protection of both front and rear occupants in side-impact crashes.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Nissan Pathfinder's cabin is handsome and ergonomically laid out. The controls are simple to use, the instrumentation is legible and cloth-lined models have the same high-quality upholstery used in the Maxima. Fit and finish is somewhat inconsistent, though, and there's more hard plastic than we'd expect from an SUV in this price range. There's plenty of space up front for the driver and front passenger, but the second-row seats are snug when it comes to toe and shoulder room. As in most midsize SUVs, the Pathfinder's two-passenger third-row seat is for kids only. This seat folds flat, providing a maximum cargo capacity of 79.2 cubic feet, about average for this class.
A powerful V6 provides the Pathfinder with ample power for just about any type of driving. Ride quality is generally smooth, but the 2007 Nissan Pathfinder feels a bit sloppy over bumps. During normal driving, body motions are well controlled and the steering is nicely weighted. Tighter cornering results in more body roll than we'd like, however. Off the pavement, these compromises turn into advantages. The same suspension that has the Pathfinder fumbling in the suburbs gives it plenty of travel when negotiating deep ruts. Impressive as the Nissan SUV is in the dirt, competitors like the 4Runner and Explorer offer more balanced dynamics overall.