2008 Nissan Pathfinder Review

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List Price Estimate:$4,138 - $6,488
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Powerful V6 and V8 engines, well-designed interior, ample storage and cargo space, high towing capacity, above-average off-road ability.
  • Second- and third-row seats are cramped for adults, ride and handling not on par with car-based competitors.

The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder is fast on the street and capable in the dirt. But consumers just wanting a comfortable, seven-passenger midsize SUV will be better served by some competing models.

Vehicle overview

The funny thing about the Nissan Pathfinder is how it seems to search for a new identity every few years. Born in the late 1980s as a rugged body-on-frame two-door meant for tackling trails, the Pathfinder morphed into a unit-bodied four-door with a creamy suspension by the later '90s. When the current Pathfinder came to market three years ago, it reflected Nissan's desire to make it all things to all people.

To please the off-road crowd, the Pathfinder returned to a sturdy, heavy body-on-frame platform derived from the full-size Titan pickup and Armada SUV. Nissan built in up to 9.1 inches of ground clearance, added a dedicated Off-Road trim level and offered both part- and full-time four-wheel-drive systems.

At the same time, Nissan wanted the Pathfinder to be suitable for mainstream multiple passenger transport. Its body is far larger than past models and contains seven standard seats arranged in three rows. In addition, both the second- and third-row seats fold flat into the floor, thanks to the use of an independent rear suspension.

These two approaches to midsize SUV design don't quite mesh with 100-percent effectiveness, however. The body-on-frame design is somewhat at odds with the sporty tuning of the steering and suspension, and the result is a somewhat stiff ride and heavy-handed handling. Additionally, both back rows are a bit cramped for adults.

For 2008, Nissan has made a number of updates in hopes of increasing the Pathfinder's appeal. Inside, the dash and center console have been revised for easier use and there are new cutting-edge convenience features such as Bluetooth connectivity and a switch to a hard-drive-based navigation system that can also be used to store music files. Finally, a strong new V8 has been made available to make hauling heavy loads even easier than before.

Although not perfect, the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder has a lot to offer. Compared to fellow body-on-frame rivals like the Toyota 4Runner, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevy TrailBlazer, the Pathfinder scores near the top in performance, driving pleasure, interior design and value for the money. However, this jack-of-all-trades entry isn't well-suited to buyers who just want a comfortable, urban-based sport-ute with third-row seating. For those buyers, car-based midsize SUVs such as the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9, Saturn Outlook or Toyota Highlander would be better choices.

2008 Nissan Pathfinder models

A midsize SUV, the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder comes in four trim levels: S, SE, SE Off-Road and LE. All but the 4WD-only SE Off-Road offer a choice of rear- or four-wheel-drive. The Pathfinder S starts off with 16-inch alloy wheels, power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, air-conditioning and a CD stereo. The Pathfinder SE adds a roof rack, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, a 7-inch screen with multi-information display, a back-up camera, dual-zone climate control and a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary input jack. The SE Off-Road features exclusive off-road shocks and tires, skid plates, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, plus a moonroof and Bose stereo. The top-line Pathfinder LE shares the moonroof and stereo, then goes all the way with leather, wood trim and power seats. The new V8 engine can be ordered on the SE and LE only; both are equipped similarly to the V6 models but have 18-inch alloy wheels.

Major options include the SE Premium Package (moonroof, Bose stereo, HomeLink transceiver, automatic headlights), the SE Leather Package (leather, heated power seats), the LE's HDD Navigation Package (hard-drive-based navigation with a 9.3GB "Music Server," Bluetooth connectivity and keyless start), and a rear-seat entertainment system.

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2008 Highlights

The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder receives its biggest update since its last full redesign in '05. Most significantly, a V8 engine is available for the first time. Nissan has taken the 5.6-liter V8 from its full-size Armada SUV and made it optional in the Pathfinder. In this application, it makes 310 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque and also raises the Pathfinder's maximum towing capacity to 7,000 pounds. Inside, you'll find a revised interior with new gauges and cupholders and a larger center stack display screen. New or updated convenience features are also part of the deal, including a new navigation system with a hard-drive-based music storage unit. Visually, the '08 Pathfinder looks a bit different thanks to updated front and rear styling and new wheel designs.

Performance & mpg

The Nissan Pathfinder is available with a choice of two powerful engines. The base 4.0-liter V6 produces 266 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque. The new 5.6-liter V8 comes can't beat Jeep's Hemi, but comes out ahead of V8s from Ford, GM, and Toyota with 310 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, raising the Pathfinder's towing capacity from 6,000 to 7,000 pounds. Both engines pair to a five-speed automatic transmission. The four-wheel-drive system on the LE V6 and all V8 models contains a full-time mode for all surfaces; all other 4WD Pathfinders use a part-time system. In testing, we found that a 4WD Pathfinder could do 0-60 mph in a brisk 7.0 seconds.

Safety

Every 2008 Nissan Pathfinder comes with antilock brakes and stability control. Only the LE comes with a full set of six airbags; all other models require buyers to order front-side airbags and full-length curtain airbags as an option package. In NHTSA testing, the Pathfinder earned four out of five stars for frontal-impact crash protection, and five stars for side protection in both the front and rear rows.

Driving

Performance is vigorous even with the standard V6, so expect acceleration to be very impressive with the new V8. In addition, the responsive automatic transmission serves up crisp shifts at all the right times. Steering response is surprisingly sharp for a traditional body-on-frame SUV, such that the Pathfinder feels almost sporty in normal traffic situations. On the whole, though, this Nissan Pathfinder is less carlike than the last generation. It's heavier, and there's considerable body roll around corners, especially on SE Off-Road models, which are fitted with off-road-biased tires. In off-road situations, the Pathfinder's rugged underpinnings are advantageous, and it offers plenty of suspension travel on rutted trails. However, for the majority of buyers who won't be using it in this manner, the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder's compromises are undeniable compared to the many qualified crossover SUVs in this price range.

Interior

The Pathfinder's interior is stylish, handsomely upholstered and ergonomically sound. The already friendly controls become more so this year as the Pathfinder adapts the navigation system in newer Nissans. The luxury quotient also rises thanks to new amenities like Intelligent Key, Bluetooth connectivity and a hard-drive-based music server.

The front seats are very comfortable, but the rear falls short on room for both feet and shoulders. Only kids will fit in the third row, and younger ones might have trouble entering the cabin to begin with, due to the high-mounted handles. Fortunately, both rear rows fold down perfectly flat to form a 79-cubic-foot cargo hold -- about average for the class.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4 out of 5 stars
Very Solid Vehicle could use a few Tweaks
Glenn,06/28/2017
LE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
Handling is good for the Highway but it is far more at home on back-roads, country roads or Some off road adventuring! Brakes are very good but there are vehicles this large and larger that do stop faster and smoother. Highway handling is good while towing anything and the 4.0 L V6 Engine has the power and torque to do the job for most anything up to about 5800 lbs. The gas mileage suffers 13.9 to 16.8 combined mpg when using regular (87 octane) or plus (89 octane) gas, this vehicle performs much better 17.3 to 19.8 MPG with Super (91 to 93 octane) or Ultra (94 octane). Handling overall is very good and body roll is minimized by active safety features. I thoroughly enjoy this vehicle But I wish the Back suspension was a bit better. The interior is roomy and comfortable for all in the first two rows of seating and the third row is best for kids or smaller adults (5'6" or below). The main console seems a bit overwhelming at first with all the buttons but if you take the time to learn the locations, everything seems pretty well laid out and is well within reach of the driver.
5 out of 5 stars
MPG After Two Years
ohlode,08/24/2010
S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
Regarding MPG on my 2008 Pathfinder S 4x4 with automatic transmission. After two years and 28K I consistently get 18.5 mpg mainly around town and usually with a small mix of expressway/freeway driving. I use 87 octane only. A/C or not it gets the same mileage. On trips I've averaged 23 mpg. Hope this is helpful. I chose the Pathfinder over the 4 Runner because of the deal. About four thousand cheaper and the base 2008 4 runner didn't even have the 3d seat as standard. Towing capacity was 1K more than the V6 4 runner. So glad I picked the Pathfinder.
1 out of 5 stars
Never buy Nissan!!!
Douglas DelPorto,10/30/2015
SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
All these Nissan SUV's had a major problem with the transmission cooler inside the radiator leaking and result being destruction of the transmission. Class action lawsuit resulted and Nissan "slithered out" of responsibility with clever lawyers. Result was only a fraction had a small portion of the actual cost covered. Very few of the thousands of affected Nissan's got a small percentage of the cost covered. The real sad issue is that Nissan did everything possible to NOT stand behind their products. It is an unhappy tale that so many thousands of Nissan owners were abandoned when this problem happened. Even the dealers are ashamed of Nissan.
3 out of 5 stars
DO NOT BUY A Nissian
McKnight,05/25/2018
LE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
DO NOT BUY A NISSIAN. I have had my pathfinder since February of 2009. I bought this car used by a year. I have never had a big problem with it until a few months ago. The problem I was having was is an ongoing problem with Nissan that they don't want their consumers knowing about. I just found out I was not the only person that had this problem with my vehicle. The radiator will crack and leak into the transmission fluid which in turn will shut the car down and it won't start. This is a $5000 repair. I will attached a link so that you can read it for yourself. Nissan know about this problem and refuse to do anything about it. [htnml removed]

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover3 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Marginal
  • Roof Strength Test
    Marginal
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Marginal
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder

Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder Overview

The Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder is offered in the following submodels: Pathfinder SUV. Available styles include SE-V8 4dr SUV 4WD (5.6L 8cyl 5A), SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), LE-V8 4dr SUV (5.6L 8cyl 5A), S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), S 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), LE-V8 4dr SUV 4WD (5.6L 8cyl 5A), LE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE Off-Road 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), LE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A), and SE-V8 4dr SUV (5.6L 8cyl 5A). Pre-owned Nissan Pathfinder models are available with a 5.6 L-liter gas engine or a 4.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 310 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder comes with four wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder?

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Which used 2008 Nissan Pathfinders are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Nissan Pathfinder for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Nissan Pathfinder.

Can't find a used 2008 Nissan Pathfinders you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Pathfinder for sale - 6 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $20,122.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 7 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $24,603.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Pathfinder for sale - 6 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $12,610.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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