Review: 2005 Nissan Pathfinder

Civilized, stylish, rugged, and even more capable, the new Pathfinder has the basic design credentials plus solid on/off-road skills that should broaden its appeal to all active lifestylers. It's the details that may raise issues for some shopping the expansive, midsize SUV field. While the Pathfinder's energetic V-6 is eminently capable, it still falls short in maximum quickness and tow ratings when compared to the Toyota 4Runner, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Dodge Durango, which all offer optional V-8s. And those who really need to carry seven will find a far more accommodating solution in the Ford. We suspect many XE and SE buyers also would prefer the choice of a lower-noise/higher-grip LE-style "street" tire that could better showcase the Pathfinder's intrinsic on-road capabilities. Although none of these items are deal breakers, all are legitimate considerations. The new Pathfinder has what it takes to be even more of a presence in this class, but conquests won't come easy--and the 4Runner still remains the one to beat in terms of IC's Ownership Cost Value ratings.

Returning to its body-on-frame roots, the Nissan Pathfinder boasts more power, space, and exterior flair with the 2005 redesign. Amid a crowded field, the Nissan struggles to excel, instead offering a solid, competitive package that favors the outdoor enthusiast who wants to blaze new trails in comfort.

What's Hot

  • Energetic 270-hp V-6
  • Standard third-row seat
  • Fully independent suspension

    What's Not

  • No V-8 option
  • Marginally usable third-row seat
  • Tires make more noise than grip

    All new for 2005, the Pathfinder is bigger inside and out, with a more powerful engine, more sophisticated character, solid on/off-road capability, and standard third-row seating.

    Lots of packages to choose from, starting with the SE Comfort (dual-zone A/C with rear controller, power-adjustable pedals, auto-dimming mirror). To it, you can add SE Premium (power sunroof, Bose sound system with six-disc CD changer, MP3 and XM satellite capability). Or bedeck the SE Off-Road with SE Off-Road Leather. Also available are LE Navigation (DVD-based nav plus Bose audio) and a Mobile Entertainment System for SE/LE (rear-seat DVD player). Side and side-curtain airbags are optional on all models.

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