Once upon a time, somebody looked at the truck-based, two-door Nissan Pathfinder and said: "You know, I think I could use that to replace the family station wagon. It's a lot cooler-looking than Dad's Country Squire. And I wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan." Since then, the Pathfinder and other SUVs have become increasingly larger and luxurious to meet the demand of millions of like-minded buyers.
You can see this evolution in the Pathfinder's timeline of four generations. The carlike current model excels with solid mileage, numerous safety features, and plenty of room in its three rows of seating. Earlier Pathfinders — and the third generation in particular — were more rugged and capable of towing, but they were not as comfortable or fuel-efficient.
Current Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder is a three-row crossover SUV that's offered in S, SV, SL and Platinum trim levels. The base S trim, which in previous years was rather sparse, now includes must-haves such as Bluetooth, a rearview camera, iPod interface and push-button keyless ignition. The SV adds only a few more features but opens the door to options such as navigation and heated seats that are not available on the S. The two upper trims can be had with nearly all of the luxuries found on the mechanically related Infiniti QX60.
Powering the Pathfinder is a 3.5-liter V6 engine that sends 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is optional, and fuel economy is in the low 20s. Towing capacity is a respectable 6,000 pounds when equipped with an optional Class III towing package.
In daily driving, the Pathfinder's ride is comfortable and composed, with plenty of power from the V6 engine. If you're looking for agile handling, this Nissan may disappoint, but otherwise it's pleasant to drive in town or on the highway.
Inside, the Pathfinder's cabin is put together well and boasts quality materials. Despite the abundance of features (especially in higher trims), the various controls are easy to reach and intuitive. The second-row seat slides and reclines to optimize comfort for passengers or cargo space behind as needs dictate. Access to the third row is eased by the second row's tilt and slide feature, which can be used even when a child seat is in place. The third row offers enough headroom for 6-foot passengers, but clearance gets a little tight beyond that, and legroom is limited.
If maximum space is a priority, a few crossover SUVs offer even more passenger and cargo room, but overall we're fond of the Pathfinder and think it fits very well with the typical family's needs and desires.
Read the most recent 2018 Nissan Pathfinder review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Nissan Pathfinder page.