2009 Nissan Pathfinder Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Plenty of power from V6 and V8 engines, attractive cabin with good ergonomics, generous storage and cargo room, high towing capacity, off-road prowess.
  • Cramped seating for adults in second and third rows, V8's thirst for fuel, feels trucklike compared to car-based SUVs.

The 2009 Nissan Pathfinder can tame the wilderness with its off-road skill, but it's not as adept in the concrete jungle. Consumers just wanting a comfortable seven-passenger midsize SUV will be better served by some competing models.

Vehicle overview

You can take the truck out of the wilderness, but can you take the wilderness out of the truck? That's the big question mark hovering over the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder. Built on a sturdy frame derived from the full-size Nissan Titan and Armada, the current Pathfinder definitely has its roots firmly planted in the truck world. With this lineage, the Pathfinder delivers plenty of utilitarian brawn and off-road prowess. Yet the value of this is increasingly dubious, considering what most people want out of their SUVs these days.

Thanks to its beefy engines, the Pathfinder can meet just about any towing or hauling need. Last year, Nissan made its 310-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 an option, and with it, the Pathfinder's tow ratings are competitive against competing body-on-frame SUVs like the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Kia Borrego and Toyota 4Runner. Overall, the Pathfinder gets high marks in terms of performance, interior design/quality and bang for the buck.

Unfortunately, with trucklike ability also comes trucklike ride quality and fuel economy. The stiff ride and cramped rear seating rows also detract from the Pathfinder's positive attributes. If you need a traditional workhorse, the Pathfinder is probably worth a look, along with the Kia Borrego. But those planning on using a midsize SUV as an urban people carrier more than a toy hauler or off-road workhorse may want to consider newer car-based crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex, Hyundai Veracruz or Mazda CX-9.

2009 Nissan Pathfinder models

The 2009 Nissan Pathfinder is a seven-passenger midsize SUV offered in four trim levels: S, SE, SE Off-Road and LE. The base S trim level includes 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning and a six-speaker CD stereo. The SE trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, running boards, foglamps, a power driver seat, a fold-flat passenger seat, a 7-inch information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning and a six-CD/MP3 changer with an auxiliary audio jack. Opting for the SE Off-Road model adds 16-inch off-road alloy wheels with rugged trail tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, a rearview camera, satellite radio and a sunroof. The range-topping LE is the only Pathfinder offered with the V8 and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, wood grain trim, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker Bose audio system.

Most Pathfinder options are available in packaged bundles. Typically, the SE-level packages, such as the Journey Package and Premium Package, allow one to get the most of the extra features that come with the LE. Other options include a hard-drive-based navigation system with digital music storage capability and a rear-seat entertainment system.

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2009 Highlights

After expanding the lineup last year, the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder undergoes only minor revisions to its option packaging and equipment availability.

Performance & mpg

Two engine choices are offered for the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder -- a very competent 4.0-liter V6 that produces 266 hp and 288 pound-feet of torque, and a raucous 5.6-liter V8 producing 310 hp and 380 lb-ft. The Nissan's big V8 edges out the eight-cylinder power plants from Ford and Toyota, but falls short of Dodge and Jeep's thumping Hemis. Towing capacity weighs in at 6,000 and 7,000 pounds for the V6 and V8, respectively. For both engine choices, a five-speed automatic transmission is standard. Nissan offers the Pathfinder with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. SE Off-Road and LE V8 are 4WD only.

Acceleration is impressive for either engine choice, with the Pathfinder reaching 60 mph from a standstill in only 7.4 seconds for the V6 and an even quicker 7.0 seconds with the V8. The eight-cylinder spreads gobs of power throughout the rev range, but at the expense of fuel consumption.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the rear-wheel-drive V6 Pathfinders are estimated at 15 city/22 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. Ordering 4WD drops the estimates down to 13/19/15 mpg. For a 4WD V8 Pathfinder, the EPA estimates 13/18/14 mpg.


As with the previous model year, the Nissan Pathfinder is equipped with antilock disc brakes and stability control as standard equipment. For 2009, side and side curtain airbags are also now standard across the entire line.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the Pathfinder was awarded four out of five stars for frontal-impact safety. Current side-impact protection results are not available, but a similarly equipped 2008 model received the highest rating -- five out of five stars. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2008 Pathfinder its highest ranking of "Good" for both frontal and side-impact protection.


In either engine configuration, the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder is an impressive performer. The eight-cylinder variant smokes the Ford Explorer's V8 on the way to 60 mph by a full 2 seconds, with perfectly timed, smooth gearshifts from the automatic transmission. Steering is surprisingly responsive and sharp, especially for an SUV of this size, giving it an almost sporty feel in traffic. Overall, the Pathfinder still feels more like a truck than a car-based crossover, however, with its heavy curb weight and pronounced body roll. In SE Off-Road trim, this body roll is even more evident.

There's no denying the Pathfinder's accomplishments when the pavement runs out, but for the vast majority of owners, a lumpy construction zone is as wild as it'll get. For that reason, unless your driveway looks like a hiking trail or you're expecting a coming apocalypse, you're better off choosing among the many similarly priced crossovers on the market.


Inside the Nissan Pathfinder, occupants will find an attractive cabin with excellent ergonomics. Optional amenities like navigation, Intelligent Key (keyless ignition/entry), Bluetooth and a hard-drive-based music server only add to the luxurious ambience. Front seating is quite comfortable, but the same cannot be said for the other positions. Rear passengers will feel cramped, and long for more foot and shoulder room. The third row is suitable for children only, and even they will find access problematic due to the Pathfinder's high-mounted door handles and tall step-in height. Cargo space provides a maximum of 79 cubic feet -- typical for this class -- thanks to the ability of both rear rows to fold down flat.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Nissan Pathfinder.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.75 out of 5 stars
4th Pathy
Tony V,07/07/2009
SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
This is my 4th Pathfinder and the best one yet! Great power and smooth ride. Just returned from long road trip from NY to Florida. Seats were comfortable and handling was superb. MPG is in line with other trucks this size. 22-23 mpg on highway with regular unleaded.
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Nissan Won
D.P. Williams,08/16/2009
SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I tried out the Honda, Toyota, GMC,Hyundai and more but none of them measured up to the Pathfinder. The ride is a bit stiff but very comfortable and with very little road noise. The seats are very comfortable on extended trips especially with the ability to change the position at the touch of a button. Fuel mileage is better than rated but my biggest complaint on fuel is that it uses premium fuel. With all the technology Nissan has I am sure they build a V-6 engine that runs equally as well on regular grade fuel. We love the room the Pathfinder offers both for passengers and hauling our gardening items.
4 out of 5 stars
take it from someone who really knows'
SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
i have drive a pickup truck sence 1979,,i have had suv as company vehicles,grand cheerokees,tahoe,suburbans,navagators, but alway had my trucks as well. nevered warned up to mid size suv.[ buy the way i would take a suburban over a navagator if it was my money,in 1997 a loader navagator was 44,900 and a suburban lt loade was 39,900 wow have times changed] anyway i have retired young 53 years old due to strokes and other major health,,so i decided to trade my last f150 ext,cab 4x4 for a 09 pathfinder,,i drove an 2011 and didnt like the handling,when i drove the 09 it was awsome tons of power smooth sure tranny,and awsome 4wd system,[ and i had the best 05 grand cheerokee overland with quadratraction 2]this pathfinder gets 16.4 in city during winter and 20,8-22mpg on the ny state thruway,for 190 mile round trip,all the seats lay flat,have pullovers,lots of storage great people hauler,,but i have it all flat and my suzy Q [ chocolet lab] gets all the room for herself,3 way climate control,pw,pl,power pedels all wheel mnt,contr,ect,i have a problem with people that complain about the mpg,they must have owned small cars,not a fair compairesment,the grand cheeroke overland with a hemi was lucky to get 15 on the hwy, and 9-12 in city,the 4th gen,pathfinder is an awsome frame on body suv/truck,,just hit 147,000miles,other than the big repair of the hole in the top of muffler melted my enire wire harness 59 feet, and complete new exghast system 1984 bucks later but it runs like new, time for another oil change,,these are real tough trucks,there are better choices for 7 pass vehicles, but none as tough as this generatinon pathfinder,,i love it and will pull my bass boat for another year'
4.75 out of 5 stars
A good thing better
S 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
We picked up our 2009 Pathfinder a few days ago and we are very pleased with it. We live in northern Canada and our roads are terrible due to frost heaving and heavy truck traffic. Our Pathfinder smoothly glides down the bumpy highway at 195km/h no problem. It also crosses 4 foot deep rivers, climbs steep muddy hills and pulls our 4 ATV quads like nothing. We also have a VW touareg and it compares very well to this vehicle except the touareg only has seats 5 and has no cargo space. I will buy another pathfinder when the wife writes this one off.


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
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • 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
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder

Used 2009 Nissan Pathfinder Overview

The Used 2009 Nissan Pathfinder is offered in the following submodels: Pathfinder SUV. Available styles include SE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), SE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 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), SE Off-Road 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), LE 4dr SUV 4WD (4.0L 6cyl 5A), and LE 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A). Pre-owned Nissan Pathfinder models are available with a 4.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 266 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Nissan Pathfinder comes with four wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed automatic. The Used 2009 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 2009 Nissan Pathfinder?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2009 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) 2009 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 2009 Nissan Pathfinder.

Can't find a used 2009 Nissan Pathfinders you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan Pathfinder for sale - 10 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $22,623.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $15,186.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan Pathfinder for sale - 8 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $14,290.

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 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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