Used 2002 Nissan Pathfinder SUV Review

With plenty of power, off-road capability and luxury, this is one of the best midsize SUVs available.




what's new

The 2002 Nissan Pathfinder receives only minor refinements. These include a new front grille, steering wheel and a revised audio system with new faceplate and faster functioning in-dash six-disc CD changer. The SE trim, now the base Pathfinder since the XE has been dropped, features a new titanium-accented step rail and roof rack with integrated air dam, body-color bumpers and fender flares, new 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and new seat cloth. Not to be outdone, the luxurious LE has 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels as standard equipment this year.

vehicle overview

Nissan's hardy Pathfinder has always been our vehicle of 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.

So revel, all you who seek liberation from urban ennui -- the Pathfinder is energized by a 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine. When mated to a five-speed manual transmission, it produces a mighty 250 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. Matching it to an automatic tranny will usurp 10 ponies but add 25 foot-pounds of twist. Either way, it's ample power to haul plenty of equipment for mountain climbing, as well as merge onto freeways without fear.

The Pathfinder comes with rear-wheel or part-time four-wheel drive, the latter of which provides a shift-on-the-fly transfer case that can be engaged at speeds up to 50 mph. On LE models, an automatic All-Mode four-wheel-drive system can be specified, giving you one more reason to skip paying the extra tariff the Infiniti QX4 commands. All-Mode operates in two-wheel drive, automatic 4WD, 4WD-Hi and 4WD-Lo, all selected using a simple rotary knob on the dashboard.

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. For 2002, there are only two trim levels available: the SE, which gives you a choice of automatic or manual transmission along with sporty exterior trim, and the more luxurious LE, which includes foglights, 17-inch wheels, a Bose audio system and fake wood accents.

Both models can be ordered with a wide array of equipment. Highlights include a leather package (which includes side airbags) and a mobile entertainment system that includes a 6.4-inch flip-down LCD screen, a video or DVD player, and ports to plug in a gaming console like Sony's PlayStation 2. A navigation system, of the variety found in the Infiniti QX4, is also available, but we don't recommend it. While the "Birdview" perspective is interesting, teensy, tiny, little, itty-bitty buttons control the thing, along with some of the climate control functions. Get a map.

Items that remain static this year include a substantial maximum cargo-carrying capacity of 85 cubic feet (surprising 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 still-cramped rear accommodations.

Despite a few quibbles, we highly recommend the Pathfinder. Nissan has a product that is truly the best compromise between car-like ride and truck-like utility. As more and more consumers are utilizing their SUVs as primary transportation, stylish, comfortable and rugged rides like the Pathfinder will truly offer the best of all worlds.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.