2011 Nissan Pathfinder SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 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 Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 266 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 14/20 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder

  • The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder still has skills off-road, but its size and weight make it overkill in the concrete jungle. Buyers wanting a comfortable seven-passenger midsize SUV are better served by a large crossover.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful V6 and V8 engines; generous storage room; strong towing ability.

  • Cons

    Guzzles gas; cramped second- and third-row seats; less cargo space than large crossovers; drives like a truck.

  • What's New for 2011

    For the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder, a 25th-anniversary Silver Edition joins the lineup and options packages have been simplified.

Full 2011 Nissan Pathfinder Review

What's New for 2011

For the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder, a 25th-anniversary Silver Edition joins the lineup and options packages have been simplified.


Once a compact five-passenger hauler with nimble feet off-road, the Nissan Pathfinder finds itself in the clutches of middle-age gravity. It's now larger, heavier and sturdier than its younger self. In some respects, that's not a bad thing. Powered by a V6 or V8, perched atop the same sturdy truck chassis as the Nissan Titan and offered with rear- or four-wheel drive, the Pathfinder can still scramble over rocks and tow a decent-size trailer. But for getting you through daily life, the Pathfinder is increasingly out of touch.

On the positive side, the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder has a maximum towing capacity of 6,000-7,000 pounds, depending on the engine selected. This is more than what you'll be able to do with a typical crossover SUV. And even with its fully independent suspension, the Pathfinder still has decent off-road chops. But we suspect most Pathfinder owners will be favoring the trailer over the trail, and head for the river rather than the Rubicon.

Either way, the Pathfinder's traditional SUV design brings a number of notable drawbacks. The first is weight, which conspires to drag down gas mileage and handling ability when compared to large crossover SUVs. Additionally, that body-on-frame construction robs the cabin of passenger and cargo space; even though the Pathfinder has three rows of seating, neither the second nor the third row is roomy.

Overall, we think there are better choices. If you really need a tow vehicle, a larger SUV like the 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe would make more sense. On the opposite side of things, crossovers like the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer, 2011 GMC Acadia and 2011 Mazda CX-9 are roomier, more nimble and more fuel-efficient. And if you really do need an SUV with a mix of towing and off-road abilities, we'd recommend the impressively redesigned 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee or the capable Toyota 4Runner. Middle age, it seems, has not been kind to Nissan's Pathfinder.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder is a midsize seven-passenger SUV offered in five trim levels: S, SV, 25th Anniversary Silver Edition, LE V6 and LE V8.

Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, roof rails, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, an eight-way manually adjustable driver seat and a six-speaker stereo with CD player.

The SV adds 17-inch alloy wheels, running boards, foglights, automatic headlights, upgraded cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning, a color multi-information display, a rearview camera and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Silver Edition adds keyless ignition/entry, heated mirrors, body color/chrome side moldings, leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker Bose audio system with six-CD changer and satellite radio. The Pathfinder LE V6 comes with 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, driver memory functions, a heated steering wheel and wood-grain trim. The top-line LE V8 loses the standard sunroof but gains the 5.6-liter V8 and a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage.

No options are offered for the S, SV and Silver trims. The navigation system is optional on the LE V6. A rear-seat entertainment system is offered for both LE trims.

Powertrains and Performance

Two engines are offered for the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder. The 4.0-liter V6, standard on all but the top trim level, makes 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque, while a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 310 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque powers the Pathfinder LE V8. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models.

All models are rear-wheel drive, with optional part-time 4WD featuring a shift-on-the-fly transfer case operated with a dash-mounted switch available on S, SV and Silver models. LE models offer available full-time four-wheel drive.

In Edmunds performance testing, a 4WD Pathfinder went from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined with rear drive and 14/20/16 with 4WD. Properly equipped, the V6 can tow 6,000 pounds.

The LE V8 made a quick 7.0-second sprint from zero to 60 mph in our testing. But that performance comes with a fuel economy penalty of 13/18/14 mpg. Properly equipped, the V8 model can tow 7,000 pounds.


The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front seat active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Pathfinder LE V8 came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet, which is about the norm for truck-based SUVs.

The Nissan Pathfinder has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash testing procedure. Its 2010 rating (which isn't comparable to 2011 ratings) was four out of five stars for frontal crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder offers an attractive and well-appointed cabin with three-row seating and a generous amount of interior storage space. Front seating is quite comfortable, but second-row passengers will feel cramped and longing for foot and shoulder room. The third row is suitable for children only, and even they'll have a hard time getting in and out due to the Pathfinder's high-mounted door handles and tall step-in height. Both the second and third rows fold flat, as does the front passenger seat, allowing 79 cubic feet of cargo space, typical for this class.

Driving Impressions

With either engine, the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder is an impressive performer, with its automatic transmission providing perfectly timed and smooth gearshifts. Steering is surprisingly responsive and sharp, especially for an SUV of this size. It almost feels sporty in traffic -- almost. Despite four-wheel independent suspension, the Pathfinder still drives more like a truck than a car-based crossover, with a rough ride on broken pavement and pronounced body roll through corners.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

The perfect choice

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

we bought a 3800# travel trailer and my Isuzu Rodeo just wasn't quite up to the task of towing it. I wanted a powerful V-6 with comfort. Got this car from a dealer (it was the salesman's wife's car) with 6300 miles. Ride is pretty stiff and busy but better than the Rodeo. Step on the gas and you're GONE!. It tows the trailer very well and gets good fuel mileage doing so. We spent 3 weeks on the road last year, up and down some extremely steep roads without a problem. My one complaint was the standard radio was terrible. I replaced with one from Crutchfield and now love everything about this car.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Why did they change to

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I'd write several paragraphs but I don't have a lot of space...so here goes.....I LOVE THIS TRUCK! I've had it for three years and hate to turn it in in April @ the end of its lease with over 100K miles on it. It's reliable, fun, a work horse and economical. How can that be? I drive almost a tank full of gas each day with my job. I spend more time in it each day than my bed! I've seen it through all weather conditions and even terrain. I've NEVER had a vehicle that performs as well in all environments! If you think this truck drives too much like a truck...then you've probably never owned a real truck before it...and you probably had yuckie cars as well. I will hate to see my truck go but...

My third and final!!

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

This is my third Pathfinder, I previously had a 1996 and 1999, both unbelievably reliable and fun to drive SUVs. This truck is a disaster, rides horribly on all road conditions and after 1 year, I am still trying to figure out why the transmission shifts at the inappropriate times. There are much better choices out there, especially if you want to achieve any type of respectable MPG.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Factory paint flaw

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder Silver Edition 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

I bought my Pathfinder less than 2 months ago. About 3 weeks(or less) into ownership, while hand-washing my vehicle, I noticed 3 different chips in my passenger side doors. No dents. I brushed it off and thought about getting touch-up paint. While bringing the issue to the attention of my dad, a well-known, retired, body man and paint expert, we did a walk-over of the vehicle and noticed there were several chips all over the vehicle, from top to bottom. Though they were microscopic at the time, in the sunlight (this being a silver paint vehicle, they WERE hard to spot if you weren't looking for them), we noticed the spots were bigger than before, and there were bubbles in the paint. My dad labeled it as something called "surface tension", which is somewhat like a pimple. He said it is something that is on the metal before the factory paint was applied and it was simply working its way up through the surface of the paint, ending as a chip. Simply put, in about 3 years, my BRAND NEW Nissan Pathfinder is going to look like a gray vehicle with patches of silver shimmer. The paint will continue to chip. I took it to the dealership, Waco Nissan, which is the same dealership I purchased the vehicle from and showed them what I was concerned about. They told me they would get in touch with the local Nissan Rep. and he would make further decisions about my situation. Later that same week, I came in to meet with the rep and he told me that all they could offer was a repaint". I have done my research and I knew that repainting is almost the same as being in an accident when it comes to resale value'. Repainting my vehicle would end up costing me money when it came to trading it in;. Needless to say, I refused;. The Nissan Dealership then offered to escalate my issue to the actual Nissan company:. I waited three weeks for an answer, playing phone tag with the associate who was responsible for my case?. She would call, leave a message, say I could return her call, never answer, call a few days later, and then finally called to say they had rejected my claim|. The same day they revealed that they had rejected my request for a replacement vehicle, but before the fact, when I had taken it in for the first oil change, I talked to the owner of Waco Nissan, same person who sold me the vehicle, and he said that Nissan had not contacted him for any pictures or sent anyone else to look at the vehicle;. Basically, Nissan made their decision based on hearsay, no evidence. No one gave a crap to look at it and see what was going on with the paint, besides the original rep who came out a month ago. Since then, the chips have become more noticeable and the spots which were once bubbles have become chips. I don't know what to do, at this point, I feel that all Nissan is doing is working to get that signature on the dotted line and doesn't care to take fault for anything that happens in their factory.. I don't feel that it is fair for them to expect me to be okay with paying a new price for a car that needs to be repainted right off the lot. Simply, they don't care. The consultant who delivered the news even went so far as to offer the number for the BBB.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

2011 silver edition pathfinder

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder Silver Edition 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

This is my 4th Pathfinder and my husband has an '06 Pathfinder SE. I traded in my '06 Sienna xle for the '11 Silver Edition. I wanted a 7 passenger 4x4. There are a lot of crossovers out there but I wanted a true 4x4 with the capacity to drive out of my driveway without me having to shovel, snow blow or plow it. I have 5 kids and I did have a Suburban but it was too big for everyday use for me, so back to the Pathfinder I went. The Pilot and the Durango were considered - Pilot was too plain inside and out and didn't seem as capable in the snow as a Pathfinder. The Durango was my second runner up but the Pathfinder was a better buy for the $$, reliability and 4x4 capability.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Definitely recommend!

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder Silver Edition 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)

This is my 2nd Pathfinder. The 1st one was a 2006 and was leased. Had a Murano after that but wasn't in love with it, I missed the Pathfinder. So, here I am...with a 2011 Pathfinder Silver. It's great! I really like the improvements made to the heating/ radio controls. The inside quality is there and the styling is nice. I'm averaging about 18 MPG in the city (even though it's rated at 15 MPG). It's great on the hwy, very smooth and quit. I've read reviews by car magazines and they criticized the rough ride...I'm not sure where they were driving but I think it's fine. Remember, it's an SUV...not a Cadillac!

Talk About The 2011 Pathfinder

2011 Nissan Pathfinder Discussions See all Started By

Purchased a 2005 Nissan Pathfinder w/ 76k miles on it from Carmax in December 2011. (Nissan should have notified car dealers of this potential issue, but Carmax did not say anything to me). May 2013, ...

My 2011 Pathfinder sometimes does not recognize the key fob at all, just as if the key wasn't there. The garage can not find anything with their computer, the mechanic suggests electromagnetic interfe...

Would like to know if anyone has recently leased a 2011 Pathfinder S or 2011 Quest . I am interested in leasing for 36 months with a 15,000 annual mile allowance. What are the current residual values ...

Gas Mileage


  • 14
  • cty
  • 20
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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