Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2023 Nissan Pathfinder for sale, is shown from the side parked in the mountains.

Nissan Pathfinder Buyer’s Guide

The Nissan Pathfinder has been an American staple for over 30 years––the SUV is spacious, versatile, and luxurious, a unique combination that probably has something to do with why it has remained so popular. The refined interior, the rugged exterior, and the quality and performance the Pathfinder is so well known for are hallmarks of the Nissan brand. Officially introduced in 1987, the Pathfinder was built for those who wanted to adventure in comfort and style, taking its cues from the compact pickups popular at the time. In the late 1990s, the Pathfinder beefed up its engine, began integrating high-tech safety features, and went through a redesign that many found appealing.

Nissan decided that in the mid-2000s, they were going to spice things up with a higher towing capacity, more engine choices, and, for the first time, the ability to travel with a larger family, up to six passengers plus the driver. Nissan also decided to go back to the classics by reincorporating the body-on-frame construction, appealing to customers who’d had one or more of the first or second-generation Pathfinders. A desire for efficiency led Nissan to create the fourth generation of Pathfinders, which included a refined drivetrain, the EZ Flex Seating System, and the Latch-’N-Glide technology. Today when you look for a Nissan Pathfinder for sale, you’ll see why it has outlasted so many other vehicles from the era. Its Top Safety Pick award from IIHS, aerodynamic styling, focus on comfort and space, and its technological capabilities combine to create the perfect family adventure vehicle.

The brown interior of a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder shows three rows of seating.


Engine Choice & Performance

Before you buy a Pathfinder, you’ll more than likely have to know the answers to a few basic things, such as which engine you want. Do you want to use this model to tow with? How much horsepower and torque are you looking for? Are you interested in the most eco-friendly option? Questions like these will arise, so if you are aware of that fact and take the time to think it through, you’ll be prepared to converse with a sales representative at your local dealership and tell them what you’re looking for so they can point you in the right direction.

Since 2012, the Pathfinder engine has been a V6, though, of course, horsepower, torque, and transmission systems can vary. Fourth generation models had a 3.5L six-cylinder engine, capable of providing 240 hp, along with an Xtronic CVT, and when combined, they provided up to thirty percent more fuel economy. The standard towing capacity was 5,000 lbs, perfect for those who enjoy going away on the weekends with their trailer to breathe in the fresh air, spot some local wildlife, or explore the beach. You can also tow snowmobiles, four-wheelers, a rowboat, a utility trailer, or jet skis for that day on the lake. Later models in the fourth generation had the power bumped up to 284 hp and 6,000 lbs of maximum towing.

Even now, current fifth-generation Pathfinder models are outfitted with the V6 engine, which makes sense as it has performed the best with the rough-and-tumble SUV. It did, however, move from a CVT (continuous variable) to a nine-speed automatic transmission system, providing the vehicle with 284 hp. Special editions like the Rock Creek trim level go up to 295 hp, beating out competition like the Toyota Highlander and Kia Telluride by going from 0-60 in under seven seconds.

Convenience and Comfort: The Pathfinder Has It All

Not only does the Pathfinder perform well, it also provides an incredibly comfortable, spacious area for drivers and passengers alike. You don’t have to get saddled with one interior, either. You can choose between a bench row or captain’s chairs (putting in captain’s chairs will bring seating space down to seven instead of eight), as well as trim levels that can add things like semi-aniline leather upholstery, which is more durable and doesn’t fade in direct sunlight, and can be more easily maintained than regular leather. Nissan also offers such luxuries as a panoramic moonroof and heated and ventilated seats, meaning you don’t have to worry about the weather outside because you have the tools and equipment you need to ensure that the temperature inside the Pathfinder is always just right.

There are bountiful storage spaces and even more room when you remove the back seat. Cubbies abound, and there is plenty of room for everyone’s items, like tablets, phones, chargers, headphones, snacks, and toys. With all of this space available, keeping the Pathfinder’s inner appearance neat is not so much a tiresome job but a quick look through the cubbies to ensure no one left any perishables or important items behind. Knowing you have space to stretch, room to grow, and plenty of storage options for those necessary items means you can rest easy knowing that your family won’t have to feel cramped and miserable on the way to a family vacation, birthday party, or holiday gathering.

A brown 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the front driving on an open road.


Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 Suite

Along with creature comforts and impressive power and performance, Pathfinders are equipped with an array of driver-assist and safety features to ensure that you and your passengers remain as safe as possible while navigating difficult or worn-down roads, traffic, inclement weather, mud, rain, or sleet. Most drivers live in areas where at least one of these is an issue, so it stands to reason that Nissan would do all it could to ensure that no matter what comes your way, you and your Pathfinder can handle it together. With six standard features, you’ve got an array of tools available to you without so much as having to lift a finger.

With the Safety Shield 360 suite, you’ll never have to worry about blind spots again. Blind spot monitoring alerts you if there’s a vehicle in your side blind areas so that you don’t have to wonder or worry when you’re changing lanes. You can also count on the rear automatic braking feature, which can keep an eye out for large objects behind you and prevent a collision, or at the very least, lessen its impact on your bumper. We all know what it’s like to back out of a parking space or driveway and be so concerned with everything else that you don’t realize you’re about to hit the dumpster, pole, or tree right behind you.

Luckily, you don’t have to keep an eye on everything alone. Other standard safety features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, and lane departure warning. If you’re stuck behind an accident, encounter some inclement weather, or are worried about what’s beside or behind you, take a deep breath and remember that the Pathfinder is your safety buddy.

Find a Nissan Pathfinder at Your Local Dealership

With so many options available to you today, it makes sense that you would feel a bit overwhelmed with all the choices you need to make about a new or new-to-you car. There are so many things to consider––fuel economy, engine power, safety features, tech features, luxuries, seating arrangements, and the number of seats available, etc. It can be incredibly taxing to think about what’s needed and what you would like in your next vehicle.

Fortunately, the Nissan Pathfinder is a perfect choice for those who are on the go through rugged terrain and city streets, with room for family and friends, and with enough helpful technology that you feel supported. You will love its sleek exterior, rough and ready attitude, comfortable interior, and the standard tech and safety features that bring it all together. Has the Pathfinder piqued your interest? Visit your local Nissan dealer today to talk about buying your next Pathfinder.