2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 5.6 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 310 hp @ 5200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 13/18 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation Yes
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder

  • The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder's size and weight make it better suited to serious utility than daily passenger transport. This is a real sport-utility, so those seeking a passenger vehicle will be better served by any number of large crossover SUVs.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful V6 and V8 engines; strong towing ability.

  • Cons

    Poor fuel economy; cramped second- and third-row seats; less cargo space than large crossovers; drives like a truck.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder lineup receives just a couple of tweaks including the addition of the navigation system as standard equipment on the top-of-the-line LE trim level.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

The perfect choice

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder

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

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

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

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

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Definitely recommend!

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Vehicle: 2011 Nissan Pathfinder

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!

Gas Mileage


  • 13
  • cty
  • 18
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Nissan Pathfinder Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder lineup receives just a couple of tweaks including the addition of the navigation system as standard equipment on the top-of-the-line LE trim level.


The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder has long been known for being a rugged SUV with decent off-road capabilities. This third-generation version that dates back to 2005 is no different. It can still hold its own after the pavement ends, thanks to a robust platform based on the full-size Nissan Titan pickup truck. With a choice of V6 or V8 power and rear- or four-wheel drive, the Pathfinder can also tow up to 7,000 pounds, a number that bests most car-based crossovers.

While the Pathfinder's truck-based brawn can come in handy when you're traveling the rutted road to your favorite fishing hole or pulling the family camping trailer, it comes at a price. Specifically, you'll be giving up many of the qualities that are important in everyday driving, including a smooth ride, confident handling, decent fuel economy and an interior with plenty of room for both people and cargo.

As such, we'd recommend most buyers check out some of the better car-based crossovers on the market, including the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer And if you're one of the few who need serious off-road and/or trailer-towing capability, we suggest you also have a look at the V6-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee or Toyota 4Runner, both of which offer better fuel economy.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder is a midsize seven-passenger SUV offered in five trim levels: S, SV, Silver, LE V6 and LE V8.

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

The SV adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, running boards, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning, upgraded cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch color multi-information display, a rearview camera, a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack.

Step up to the Silver trim level and you get heated mirrors, body-color/chrome side moldings, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats and Bluetooth.

The LE V6 model comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rack crossbars, driver seat memory functions, a heated steering wheel, wood-grain trim and a navigation system with digital music storage. The top-of-the-line LE V8 loses the standard sunroof but gains the 5.6-liter V8 engine and four-wheel drive.

The options list is short and includes a sunroof and the rear-seat video entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder is offered with a choice of two engines. The 4.0-liter V6 makes 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque, while the LE V8 model gets a 5.6-liter V8 that produces 310 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, while a part-time four-wheel-drive system featuring a shift-on-the-fly transfer case is an option on S, SV and Silver models. LE models can be had with an available full-time four-wheel-drive setup.

In Edmunds performance testing, a V6-powered four-wheel-drive Pathfinder went from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 14/20/16 with 4WD. Properly equipped, this powertrain can tow 6,000 pounds.

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


The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front seat active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and full-length 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Pathfinder its highest possible rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side crash tests but a second-lowest score of "Marginal" for the roof-strength test.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside the cabin, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder's front seats are comfortable enough, but second-row passengers will find foot and shoulder room in short supply. The standard third-row seat is really only suitable for kids, and they'll have a hard time getting back there because of the elevated placement of the Pathfinder's rear door handles and its high step-in height. The Pathfinder's interior design is also showing its age, with a ho-hum look and a lot of small buttons on the center stack.

When it comes time to transport cargo, the interior's 40/20/40-split second-row and 50/50-split third-row seats fold down to create a flat load floor and 79 cubic feet of cargo room. This is less than most large crossovers.

Driving Impressions

No matter which engine you choose, you'll find that the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder performs admirably, with both the V6 and V8 producing strong acceleration. The five-speed automatic transmission helps make the most of this power with smooth, well-timed gearshifts.

In fact, the driving experience feels almost sporty thanks to precise, responsive steering. The Pathfinder can't escape its truck-based roots, though, and there's the usual body roll during cornering, while a suspension calibrated for hauling and towing delivers a stiff-legged ride on bad pavement.

Talk About The 2012 Pathfinder

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