2009 Nissan Pathfinder SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 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 4.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 266 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 15/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder

  • The 2009 Nissan Pathfinder can tame the wilderness with its off-road skill, but it's not as adept in the concrete jungle. Consumers just wanting a comfortable seven-passenger midsize SUV will be better served by some competing models.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Plenty of power from V6 and V8 engines, attractive cabin with good ergonomics, generous storage and cargo room, high towing capacity, off-road prowess.

  • Cons

    Cramped seating for adults in second and third rows, V8's thirst for fuel, feels trucklike compared to car-based SUVs.

  • What's New for 2009

    After expanding the lineup last year, the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder undergoes only minor revisions to its option packaging and equipment availability.

Full 2009 Nissan Pathfinder Review

What's New for 2009

After expanding the lineup last year, the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder undergoes only minor revisions to its option packaging and equipment availability.


You can take the truck out of the wilderness, but can you take the wilderness out of the truck? That's the big question mark hovering over the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder. Built on a sturdy frame derived from the full-size Nissan Titan and Armada, the current Pathfinder definitely has its roots firmly planted in the truck world. With this lineage, the Pathfinder delivers plenty of utilitarian brawn and off-road prowess. Yet the value of this is increasingly dubious, considering what most people want out of their SUVs these days.

Thanks to its beefy engines, the Pathfinder can meet just about any towing or hauling need. Last year, Nissan made its 310-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 an option, and with it, the Pathfinder's tow ratings are competitive against competing body-on-frame SUVs like the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Kia Borrego and Toyota 4Runner. Overall, the Pathfinder gets high marks in terms of performance, interior design/quality and bang for the buck.

Unfortunately, with trucklike ability also comes trucklike ride quality and fuel economy. The stiff ride and cramped rear seating rows also detract from the Pathfinder's positive attributes. If you need a traditional workhorse, the Pathfinder is probably worth a look, along with the Kia Borrego. But those planning on using a midsize SUV as an urban people carrier more than a toy hauler or off-road workhorse may want to consider newer car-based crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex, Hyundai Veracruz or Mazda CX-9.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Nissan Pathfinder is a seven-passenger midsize SUV offered in four trim levels: S, SE, SE Off-Road and LE. The base S trim level includes 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning and a six-speaker CD stereo. The SE trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, running boards, foglamps, a power driver seat, a fold-flat passenger seat, a 7-inch information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning and a six-CD/MP3 changer with an auxiliary audio jack. Opting for the SE Off-Road model adds 16-inch off-road alloy wheels with rugged trail tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, a rearview camera, satellite radio and a sunroof. The range-topping LE is the only Pathfinder offered with the V8 and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, wood grain trim, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker Bose audio system.

Most Pathfinder options are available in packaged bundles. Typically, the SE-level packages, such as the Journey Package and Premium Package, allow one to get the most of the extra features that come with the LE. Other options include a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage capability and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

Two engine choices are offered for the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder -- a very competent 4.0-liter V6 that produces 266 hp and 288 pound-feet of torque, and a raucous 5.6-liter V8 producing 310 hp and 380 lb-ft. The Nissan's big V8 edges out the eight-cylinder power plants from Ford and Toyota, but falls short of Dodge and Jeep's thumping Hemis. Towing capacity weighs in at 6,000 and 7,000 pounds for the V6 and V8, respectively. For both engine choices, a five-speed automatic transmission is standard. Nissan offers the Pathfinder with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. SE Off-Road and LE V8 are 4WD only.

Acceleration is impressive for either engine choice, with the Pathfinder reaching 60 mph from a standstill in only 7.4 seconds for the V6 and an even quicker 7.0 seconds with the V8. The eight-cylinder spreads gobs of power throughout the rev range, but at the expense of fuel consumption.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the rear-wheel-drive V6 Pathfinders are estimated at 15 city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. Ordering 4WD drops the estimates down to 13/19/15 mpg. For a 4WD V8 Pathfinder, the EPA estimates 13/18/14 mpg.


As with the previous model year, the Nissan Pathfinder is equipped with antilock disc brakes and stability control as standard equipment. For 2009, side and side curtain airbags are also now standard across the entire line.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the Pathfinder was awarded four out of five stars for frontal-impact safety. Current side-impact protection results are not available, but a similarly equipped 2008 model received the highest rating -- five out of five stars. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2008 Pathfinder its highest ranking of "Good" for both frontal and side-impact protection.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside the Nissan Pathfinder, occupants will find an attractive cabin with excellent ergonomics. Optional amenities like navigation, Intelligent Key (keyless ignition/entry), Bluetooth and a hard-drive-based music server only add to the luxurious ambience. Front seating is quite comfortable, but the same cannot be said for the other positions. Rear passengers will feel cramped, and long for more foot and shoulder room. The third row is suitable for children only, and even they will find access problematic due to the Pathfinder's high-mounted door handles and tall step-in height. Cargo space provides a maximum of 79 cubic feet -- typical for this class -- thanks to the ability of both rear rows to fold down flat.

Driving Impressions

In either engine configuration, the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder is an impressive performer. The eight-cylinder variant smokes the Ford Explorer's V8 on the way to 60 mph by a full 2 seconds, with perfectly timed, smooth gearshifts from the automatic transmission. Steering is surprisingly responsive and sharp, especially for an SUV of this size, giving it an almost sporty feel in traffic. Overall, the Pathfinder still feels more like a truck than a car-based crossover, however, with its heavy curb weight and pronounced body roll. In SE Off-Road trim, this body roll is even more evident.

There's no denying the Pathfinder's accomplishments when the pavement runs out, but for the vast majority of owners, a lumpy construction zone is as wild as it'll get. For that reason, unless your driveway looks like a hiking trail or you're expecting a coming apocalypse, you're better off choosing among the many similarly priced crossovers on the market.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

One of the best suv's

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Had my path for a year and living here in Winnipeg Canada, I had noticed the exceptional power especially when driving in snow covered roads. The only problem is the third row seat (only good for kids) but overall, regardless of the poor gas mileage if your looking for a car that can race with a v8 yukon, a lighter v6 pathfinder can beat it!!!! (I'm telling you guys! I've tried it with a friend when we raced down I-29 North Dakota)

Good overal package

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I have owned this car for 2 problem free years. It has been very reliable, comfortable, and worry free. It is big and heavy but that doesn't hurt the handling that much (I have upside wheels that help as well) but it does impact fuel economy. I routinely get around 16 mpg around town. I am happy with the purchase and would probably do it again.

Great choice

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I used this site to do research on my next purchase and it had a lot of great info. I feel I made a great choice in the Pathfinder, and I got a great deal on the one I purchased. Even this base model comes with so much. I changed the radio out and put fog lights on myself but other than that , it doesn't need anything else unless you want to Pimp your ride. I'm not going off road but I still have enough room and power to go over something if i need to and not get stuck. Gas mileage for me is good, because i don't drive all over town and hardly any hwy at all. i needed a larger vehicle to haul around active kids (3) but still feel cool driving

So far so good

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Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

Thrilled with my purchase. Not concerned about the lack of space for passengers as all my passengers are under the age of 7. Lots of fun for the kids. And super comfy for us in the front. Had a wonderful drive from North to South.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The nissan won

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Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I tried out the Honda, Toyota, GMC,Hyundai and more but none of them measured up to the Pathfinder. The ride is a bit stiff but very comfortable and with very little road noise. The seats are very comfortable on extended trips especially with the ability to change the position at the touch of a button. Fuel mileage is better than rated but my biggest complaint on fuel is that it uses premium fuel. With all the technology Nissan has I am sure they build a V-6 engine that runs equally as well on regular grade fuel. We love the room the Pathfinder offers both for passengers and hauling our gardening items.

4th pathy

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Vehicle: 2009 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

This is my 4th Pathfinder and the best one yet! Great power and smooth ride. Just returned from long road trip from NY to Florida. Seats were comfortable and handling was superb. MPG is in line with other trucks this size. 22-23 mpg on highway with regular unleaded.

Talk About The 2009 Pathfinder

2009 Nissan Pathfinder Discussions See all Started By

Over the past 3 weeks hundreds of 2009 pathfinders have hit lots over the north east of the US. I have heard from dealers that these pathfinders are from the midwest, Montana or Mizzu. These cars lo...

I want to lease a Nissan Pathfinder 2009 SE Loaded or 2009 LE loaded in Central Florida for a 36 month lease, 12k miles/yr with no money down and no trade in....

I have an 2009 pathfinder in March it was shuttering and jerking. I took it to our private mechanic he looked at the oil cap and seen the oil was mixed with the antifreeze. He told me that this was th...

Gas Mileage


  • 15
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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