The Nissan Pathfinder is all tough-guy exterior and comfort-plushness interior. This sport utility vehicle (SUV) seats seven people and is available in the SE and LE trims. The Pathfinder was introduced in 1986 for the 1987 model year as competition for the attention of the young male buyers of the rival Toyota 4Runner. It was based on the Nissan truck platform and had good off-roading capability.
Body Styles: sport utility vehicle
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Nissan Pathfinder SE, Nissan Pathfinder LE
The 2002 Nissan Pathfinder got a new grille, steering wheel, and an upgraded audio system with a new faceplate and faster functioning in-dash six-disc CD changer. The XE trim has been axed from the lineup, making the SE the base trim. The SE has new titanium-accented step rails and roof rack with integrated air dam, body-colored bumpers and fender flares, and new 16-inch alloy wheels. It also has new seat cloth and the LE trim has new 17-inch alloy wheels as standard.
The standard exterior features for the 2002 Nissan Pathfinder SE include: 16-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent windshield wipers, rear defogger, intermittent rear wiper, roof rack, privacy glass, remote keyless entry, power heated mirrors, power windows, and a rear liftgate door with a manual window. The LE trim replaces the 16-inch wheels with 17-inch wheels and adds body-colored bumpers and step running boards.
The front of the Pathfinder has a square-jawed look that is emphasized by the restyled grille with a larger Nissan badge in the center. The body-colored fenders, rear mirrors, and alloy wheels make the masculine exterior appear more professional-looking. The side step rails makes entry and exit easier.
The interior features of the Pathfinder SE include: cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, driver’s seat with manually-adjustable lumbar support, split-folding rear bench seat, cruise control, speed-sensitive power steering, 12V power outlets, leather-trimmed tilting steering wheel with integrated cruise controls, air conditioning, and a six-speaker in-dash CD stereo system. The LE trim adds: a universal remote transmitter, climate control, simulated wood on the dashboard, and a six-disc in-dash CD stereo system with six Bose speakers. A navigation system and rear seat entertainment system are optional for the LE trim.
The main instrument panel is done in the traditional black-on-white scheme and it is very easy to read. The dashboard is laid out conveniently. The navigation system works well, but you will need to take time to learn how to operate it. The overall cabin design is ordinary, but neat. The front seat passengers will find the seats comfortable, but the rear seat passengers will be snug. The bench seat is mounted low to the floor and offers very little back support or leg room. The step-in is high and the door openings are narrow. Folding the rear bench seat is complicated.
Performance & Handling
The 2002 Nissan Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that makes 250 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque when mated with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Mating it with the four-speed automatic transmission reduces the horsepower to 240, but increases the torque output to 265 lb-ft. You can also get the optional AllMode five-speed manual automatic transmission for the LE that allows you to shift gears manually when needed. It has standard rear-wheel drive, but you can get the four-wheel drive as optional.
Acceleration is good for an SUV, but the automatic transmission can be slow to shift when passing. It offers a firm ride, but rougher pavement produced a lot of jolts. The tight suspension helps in handling and the steering feels weighted, but can feel vague when driving on-center on the highway. The cabin is insulated well to muffle wind and road noise, and the engine is quiet except for the throaty growl at full throttle.
Standard safety features for the 2002 Nissan Pathfinder includes: four-wheel antilock braking system (ABS), dual front airbags, rear child door safety locks, ventilated front disc/rear drum brakes, engine immobilizer, dusk-sensing auto delay-off headlights, and electronic brake force distribution. The LE trim adds fog lights and a remote anti-theft alarm system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Pathfinder five stars for side-impact protection for the front and rear, and four stars for frontal-impact protection for the front and rear and rollover protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Nissan Pathfinder SE: 15/18 mpg city/highway
Nissan Pathfinder LE: 14/18 mpg city/highway
- Powerful V-6 engine
- Instruments and controls are easy to read and operate
- Car-like interior
- Good reliability record
- Optional rear entertainment system
- Available Infiniti AllMode 4WD on LE
- Good acceleration
- Good cargo room
You Won't Like
- Cramped rear seating
- High price tag
- Rear bench seat is hard to fold
- Challenging rear seat entry and exit
Powerful, masculine SUV that comes at a surprising high price.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota Highlander
- Dodge Durango
- Lexus RX300
- Infiniti QX4
- GMC Envoy
- Ford Explorer
- Acura MDX
- Nissan Xterra