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2012 Nissan Pathfinder

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2012 Nissan Pathfinder Review

Long in tooth but still solid

Reviewed by Automotive on

Introduced in 2005 as an all-new model, the third-generation Nissan Pathfinder midsize SUV has evolved into a comfortable, rugged, and powerful family hauler with off-road capability.

With truck-based underpinnings and V-6 or V-8 power, seven-passenger seating, and rear- or all-wheel drive, the Pathfinder is capable of traversing through rough terrain or towing up to 7000 pounds when properly equipped. The Pathfinder also boasts a solid blend of luxury amenities, featuring a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for storing music, an optional six-disc 10-speaker Bose stereo system, available Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and heated leather-appointed seats on uplevel LE models.

The Pathfinder shares platform pieces with the Titan pickup truck and Armada and Xterra sport/utility vehicles, but boasts an independent rear suspension for better dynamics. A 4.0-liter V-6 engine with 266 horsepower comes standard, and a 5.6-liter V-8 borrowed from the Armada and Titan with 310 horsepower is available. Both the Pathfinder's second- and third-row seats fold flat, enlarging cargo capacity to a respectable 79.2 cubic feet.

The Range

Bodystyle: SUV
Engines: 4.0-liter V-6, 5.6-liter V-8
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: S V-6, SV V-6, Silver V-6, LE V-6 (rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive optional); LE V-8 (four-wheel drive only)

What's New

To commemorate 25 years of the Pathfinder, Nissan created a Silver edition for 2011 and 2012. For this year, Nissan is adding a power moonroof and a DVD entertainment system as standard equipment to the Silver edition. A navigation system will now come standard on LE models, and Brilliant Silver replaces Lightning Silver in the Pathfinder's color palette.


Pathfinder's signatures design cues are evident in the large headlamps, big flared fenders, and high-mounted rear door handles integrated into the window pillars. Wheel sizes range from 16 to 18 inches, with all sizes nicely accentuating the 112.2-inch wheelbase.


With standard seven-passenger seating and up to 79.2 cubic feet of cargo, the Pathfinder pampers further with available leather-trimmed seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation with a 9.3-gigabyte music hard drive, Bluetooth phone capability, and backup camera. Dual-zone climate control and rear air conditioning controls are also optional equipment.

Performance & Handling

The Pathfinder's standard engine continues to be a 4.0-liter V-6 that delivers 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque. If that's not enough oomph, an available 5.6-liter V-8 generates 310 horsepower and 388 pound-feet. Each engine is mated to a five-speed automatic. All Pathfinders use a front control-arm/rear multi-link suspension, V-6 models can tow up to 6000 pounds, the V-8, 7000.


Nissan equips every Pathfinder with front, front-side, and side curtain airbags, the last for outboard occupants in all three rows. The Pathfinder also gets front-seat active head restraints, stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

EPA Fuel Economy

S, SV, Silver, LE V-6 (rear-wheel drive models): 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway
S, SV, Silver, LE V-6 (four-wheel drive models): 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
LE V-8: 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Seven-passenger seating
  • Available four-wheel drive
  • Rugged looks
  • Good power

You Won't Like

  • Fuel thirsty
  • New model coming soon
  • Bouncy ride
  • Cheapish interior plastics

Sum Up

Long in tooth but still solid

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Explorer
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee

See the New 2014 Pathfinder.

Front & Driver Side View