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A popular Nissan Pathfinder for sale, a blue 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, is shown driving off-road.

Finding the Perfect Path: The Most Memorable Nissan Pathfinder Years

The Nissan Pathfinder has been around for decades, and it is easy to find a used Nissan Pathfinder for sale. Midsize SUVs rose to popularity in Canada back in the mid-1980s since they offered respectable fuel efficiency and were easy to wind through tight spaces. Japanese automaker Nissan recognized the demand for this kind of vehicle and met it with the Pathfinder. Launched in 1987, the Pathfinder found its niche within the market, becoming a popular purchase among buyers.

Now well into its fourth generation, the Nissan Pathfinder has seen a lot of ups and a few downs. The fourth generation is, as a whole, a high note for Nissan. Some years are quite good, while others are simply great. With regular maintenance, used Nissan Pathfinder models should last for at least a decade, if not longer. This lets you know that they offer a lot of longevity––something drivers often consider as part of the used car-buying process.

Which recent Nissan Pathfinder model years stand out above the rest? A selection of fourth-generation models stand out for being the most memorable used Nissan Pathfinder model years––and here is everything you need to know about them.

An Introduction to the Fourth Generation (2013-2020)

Before launching into the most memorable Pathfinder model years, it is important to familiarize yourself with the fourth generation on the whole. Nissan decided to move away from a body-on-frame platform to a unibody chassis. The Pathfinder also became bigger for the fourth generation, lending to a more spacious design.

By the time 2013 rolled around, consumers were looking for more efficiency and creature comforts. Nissan designed the Pathfinder to meet these needs when it launched the fourth generation. The fourth generation’s 3.5L V6 engine was all new and could generate 260 hp. The fuel economy was even improved by 30 percent thanks to the more efficient V6 being paired with a Xtronic transmission. This resulted in a fuel economy rating of 11.9 L/100 km combined for the 2023 Pathfinder, emphasizing its efficiency.

Nissan made other improvements, too. Interior space increased, and the EZ Flex Seating System offered easier access to the Pathfinder’s third row of seats. The LATCH AND GLIDE system made it so that the second row of seats could simply be moved forward for third-row access, even with a child safety seat securely latched into place. In other words, the interior was all about comfort and efficiency––and it still is.

The Best Fourth-Generation Nissan Pathfinder Model Years

There are five particular Nissan Pathfinder model years hailing from the fourth generation that are worthy of mention: 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2020. Each of these examples of the Pathfinder has something special that helps it stand out and is known among buyers for its safety and reliability.

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

Let’s start with the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder. This model year was the last one before Nissan took a one-year manufacturing hiatus with the Pathfinder. There were not too many changes made between the 2019 and 2020 Pathfinder model years, so honestly, either one is a good choice. Buyers regard the 2019 and 2020 Pathfinder models as being reliable, strong, and capable of towing loads of up to 2,722 kg.

Of course, fuel economy is a major reason why people choose to buy the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder. It is rated for up to 11.6 L/100 km combined with the standard 3.5L V6 engine. The one change that was made for 2020 is the inclusion of the Rock Creek Edition. When you equip this package, you get unique black exterior trim and badging, high-contrast orange stitching on the seats, and dark finish wheels.

2017 Nissan Pathfinder

2017 was a pivotal model year for the fourth-generation Pathfinder. Nissan took a lot of consumer reviews into consideration when designing this mid-cycle refresh. The V6 received 24 hp more than the outgoing Pathfinder, bringing it to 284 hp. This helps the 2017 Pathfinder quickly get up to speed and merge or pass on the highway.

The towing capacity was increased for the model year. Instead of the previous 2,268 kg, it was boosted to 2,721 kg. For buyers wanting a used midsize SUV that can tow a substantial amount of weight, this increase makes the 2017 Pathfinder all the more attractive. The motion-activated power tailgate proved to be another helpful feature since it means loading and unloading cargo is much easier than ever before.

Nissan also decided to include more advanced driver aids. Starting on the 2017 Pathfinder, buyers can enjoy Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control, and more, helping them stay safe while on the open road.

2016 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder is still memorable since, when it debuted, it gave buyers a comfortable and well-rounded driving experience. This seven-seater is known for driving more like a sedan than a three-row SUV, with little in the way of body roll while rounding through turns. The CVT, paired with the V6, made for an efficient powertrain––and still does.

As the last model year before the mid-cycle refresh, the 2016 Pathfinder is a stellar pick for anyone looking for a good deal. While it lacks some modern features, such as only offering a 20 cm infotainment display on the top trim, those missing features mean you are more likely to find examples at an affordable price. Plus, it’s not like the 2016 model isn’t a comfortable ride.

2015 Nissan Pathfinder

For the 2015 model year, Nissan tweaked the Pathfinder’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) to be more efficient than before. Nissan decided to give the CVT something called D-Step Shift Logic, which makes the CVT feel more like a traditional automatic transmission when it shifts between gears. The overall effect was a cozier ride without the droning associated with older CVT models.

The 2015 model year also marks the introduction of Hill Descent Control to the AWD-equipped Pathfinder models. On top of that, several driver-aids were made available on the higher trim levels. Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert was added to the SL and Platinum trim levels and proved to be popular with buyers wanting more safety features.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Quite naturally, when the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder launched the fourth generation, just about everything on it was new. Nissan gave the Pathfinder a new transverse-mounted 3.5L V6 engine and paired it to an Xtronic CVT. The chassis was also fully redone using a unibody platform. About 230 kg lighter than its predecessor, the 2013 Pathfinder also proved to be more aerodynamic.

With the change from body-on-frame came more interior space for occupants. Overall, passenger volume increased, including headroom and legroom for those in the front seats. More pass-through space to get to the third row was also opened up. On the outside, the Pathfinder sat lower to the ground than it previously had, which was part of Nissan’s emphasis on fuel efficiency.

Invest in a Generation to Remember

The fourth generation of the Nissan Pathfinder has, on the whole, been a strong competitor in the midsize SUV segment. It offers a contemporary experience and plenty of comfort for drivers and passengers. As the years have passed, Nissan has paid attention to trends and added even more in terms of technological and safety features. There is also an increasing emphasis on fuel efficiency in these models, appealing to a greater diversity of buyers, including those who have never owned a midsize SUV before trying the Pathfinder. You can find your path in one of these recent Pathfinder model years.