The new Pathfinder continues Nissan's current predilection for trucks that are big and bold and not very pretty. Based on the underpinnings of the full-size Armada SUV and the Titan pickup, the Pathfinder has grown in size to rival vehicles such as the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango. It has a fully boxed steel frame and all-around independent suspension. It's powered by an all-new 4.0-liter DOHC V-6 engine that makes an estimated 265 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but there are available part-time and electronically controlled on-demand all-wheel-drive systems. A vehicle stability system is available, as are high-performance gas-charged dampers. Inside is a third-row flat-folding seat to give seven-passenger capability: The second- and third-row seats can be folded individually for maximum flexibility. Power-adjustable pedals are on the options list, along with full-length side-curtain air bags and the now obligatory DVD entertainment system to keep those back-seat riders quiet. The Pathfinder has definitely grown up, inside and out, but we wonder if it will be as talented a trail vehicle as the outgoing model. Most buyers will no doubt be happier with improved on-road ability and a more luxurious, more mainstream truck interior.
ON SALE: October 2004
PRICE: $28,000 (est.)
ENGINE: 265-hp, 4.0-liter V-6
BOTTOM LINE: Finally, a mainstream Nissan mid-size SUV.