The 2009 Nissan Pathfinder is a chunky, midsize sport utility vehicle that looks reassuringly sturdy. The frame owes much to the Nissan Titan and the Armada, making it look very similar to a truck. It suits anyone who wants to go off-road, as it really is a utilitarian vehicle with plenty of brute force available to back it up. However, this may not be ideal for many people who simply want an SUV to haul occasional heavy loads or to go camping. It does have an impressive capacity, seating seven passengers, and it comes in four different trim levels: S, SE, SE Off-Road, and LE.
The Pathfinder has an impressive towing capacity, the strength of which depends on the engine. It comes with either a 4.0-liter V-6 engine or a 5.6-liter V-8, which gives it a competitive towing capacity against other models in its class. The V-8 engine option only comes with the LE model. However, it doesn’t offer a particularly luxurious ride; the seats are a little hard and the rear seats are somewhat cramped. This model provides a great choice if you want a traditional SUV and need a real workhorse. If you don't need something with impressive offroad capabilities, you might be better off looking at another midsize SUV with a greater range of creature comforts.
Body styles: midsize sport utility vehicle
Engines: 4.0-liter V-6, 5.6-liter V-8
Models: Nissan Pathfinder S, Nissan Pathfinder SE, Nissan Pathfinder SE Off-Road, Nissan Pathfinder LE
In 2008, the Nissan Pathfinder expanded its lineup, and 2009 saw only minor changes to equipment availability and optional packages. Side-curtain airbags and side-impact airbags come standard on these models.
This imposing midsize SUV has an enormous front grille. The wheel base measures only slightly shorter than the Explorer at 112.2 inches. It comes with 16-, 17-, or 18-inch alloy wheels, depending on the model. Front fog lamps come standard, as do power mirrors. Running boards come on all models except the S. Nissan offers an optional power moonroof. Automatic headlamps come standard on the LE, but remain optional for other trims, as do the heated mirrors.
All models seat up to seven passengers and include split, folding second and third row seats. The front passenger seat can fold down as well. Seating in the second row splits 40/20/40, while the third row seat splits 50/50, and it folds into the floor with the head restraints still in place. Additional storage space can be found under the second row seats. The Pathfinder has a maximum cargo space of 79.2 cubic feet.
Standard interior features include cruise control, speed-sensitive locks, and power windows. Dual-zone automatic climate control comes standard on all models except the S. The LE model features heated front seats and a 10-speaker Bose audio system (all of which come optional on other models), and it also offers leather upholstery. Nissan offers the navigation system and the DVD entertainment system as options.
Performance & Handling
For such an enormous vehicle, the Pathfinder accelerates well and has responsive steering. At times, it can feel almost sporty to drive, but it still drives more like a truck than an SUV. It really comes into its own when off-roading, but families may not use it for this purpose.
The Nissan Pathfinder has plenty of power available for towing, and the V-8 engine can tow up to 7,000 pounds. Models have either rear drive or four-wheel drive, and a tow hitch receiver comes standard.
Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) and stability control, as well as side and side-curtain airbags. This vehicle performs reasonably well in safety tests and receives four stars out of five in highway tests for frontal impact safety. It also boasts the highest rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for frontal and side-impact protection.
EPA Fuel Economy
Nissan Pathfinder S: 15/22 mpg city/highway
Nissan Pathfinder SE: 15/22 mpg city/highway
Nissan Pathfinder SE Off-Road: 13/19 mpg city/highway
Nissan Pathfinder LE: 13/18 mpg city/highway
- Its powerful towing capacity
- Generous cargo space
- Attractive cabin
You Won't Like
- Cramped seating in the second and third rows
- Poor fuel economy
This rugged vehicle offers a great SUV option for off-roading.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet Traverse
- Ford Flex
- Mazda CX-9