2003 Nissan Pathfinder Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Powerful V6 engine, carlike interior, solid reliability record, rear entertainment system option, available All-Mode 4WD system on LE models.
- Tight rear accommodations, high price tag, hard-to-fold rear seats.
Most helpful consumer reviews
LE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
I can't say enough good things about my Pathfinder. I purchased this vehicle two years ago and it has been one of the best economy SUVs I have ever driven, and despite the hell I've given her, she has treated me spectacularly. It's certainly not the nicest, nor does it have a lot of bells and whistles, but it has grown on me in a way no way any other vehicle has. I got lucky, and after totaling my last vehicle, a family friend sold this car to me for practically nothing. It currently has 278,000 miles (yes, two hundred thousand), but boy, did this engine get taken care of. No out of the norm replacements engine-wise and the transmission is insanely smooth. No strange sounds or weird misfires, just the sweet sound of 6-cylinders combusting fuel. I have had one major repair since I bought the vehicle, but at this mileage, I can't complain. (it was the fuel pump, not very expensive) The engine is POWERFUL for the mileage. When I say for the mileage, really, just in general, this car is pleasant to drive. This engine gets up and goes with a 3.5 V6. I absolutely admire the acceleration! I ride to work every day on the interstate going 85mph, and it has no problem getting up to high speeds. It barely fights me to even surpass 100mph, and for an SUV with this mileage, that is wonderful. It handles marvelously, and sometimes I forget that I'm even driving such an old vehicle. Quiet interior, well-kept. I love that the seats in the back fold down for extra cargo space. Slap some blankets down in the back and its great for camping. It's not the roomiest vehicle in the world, but it gets the job done, and has never left me stranded or worried that something may break. I have taken several road trips that attest to its reliability, and it never runs hot even when being driven for 4+ hours. On the same note, I had a venture 1 year ago involving getting it stuck knee deep in water and mud, water in the cabin, and I have had no issues following the incident. (except a cumbersome mildew smell for a few weeks...) In fact, we pulled her out and went right back to mudding afterward. My only complaint would be poor exterior paint quality. The paint is tremendously faded, and it chips very easily. The MPG may also be a deal breaker for some, as I average about 12-13 MPG. However, I have test driven a lot of new vehicles recently, and haven't quite found a rugged SUV with the smoothness and power that this vehicle offers. I test drove a 2016 Toyota 4Runner, and I was honestly disappointed with the lack of power and ride quality that it provided. (dashboard MPG was reading at about 12 MPG on the interstate on top of that) In all honesty, I may keep this vehicle and just restore the paint and add some aftermarket features. Ultimately, I would recommend this vehicle to anyone looking for a used vehicle with an excellent ride. If me assigning my car a gender in any way attests to the fact that this vehicle will grow on you, I have done my job here. Kudos to Nissan for manufacturing such a great vehicle, I sure wish the market would return to the SUV glory days. Pro Tip: fill her up with premium gas and you will see a huge difference.
SE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
Purchased used from a work aquaintance in 2006 with only 17,000 miles. Now has 58,000. So far, so good. Same issues, CD skips when cold, leather around seat adjusters cracked a bit, heat shield rattle, evap leak - check engine light has been on for about 4 years now. For those with same issue, I would try a new gas cap for a potential fix. Also, use Maguire's leather treatment - works great & eliminates the golden retriever smell. Had new oil pan, etc. installed in December 2011 for about $1,000. So far cost of ownership is as expected - we live in Vermont & the winters are brutal on vehicles.
SE Rwd 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
I've always been a Nissan Pathfinder fan, till now ( I hate the new body style) I've owned my 2003 for 5 years now. I live in Utah and it's the best 4 wheel drive I've owned. I've had a 1989, 1990, 1997 pathfinders and now the 2003. I have never had it strand me or had any expensive repairs. I do all the recommended maintenances though. The gas mileage would be my only "con" but I wouldn't trade better gas mileage for the power it has. I do love the power and control this car provides. I think for the money this is a solid, reliable, well built car. I see lots of 2003 Nissan Pathfinders with over 200,000 miles. I think that says a lot.
SE 4WD 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 4A)
I purchased my 03 pathfinder a year after the new body style came out. At the time I didn't need the 3rd row seat but now wish I purchased that instead. shortly after purchasing I brought it back in because I had a heat shield loose and exhaust leak. My service engine light is always on, I have it shut off and after driving anywhere from 60-200 miles it turns back on because an evap leak. I recently had a smoke machine hooked up to it and was able to find the leak near the gas tank. I have removed almost all the heat shields and replaced my muffler twice and had it fixed once.