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2011 Nissan Pathfinder

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2011 Nissan Pathfinder Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/28/2011


The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder offers room for seven, a choice of V6 or V8 engines, and a design that is both rugged yet elegant. As it is one of the few mid-size SUVs still offering a body-on-frame platform, the Pathfinder is ideally suited for off-road adventuring as well as towing heavy loads. Tow rated up to 7,000 pounds, the Nissan Pathfinder surpasses similarly sized crossover SUVs without sacrificing interior comfort or overall drivability. And, while the fuel economy of the V8 is hardly impressive, the potent 4.0-liter V6 actually returns fairly decent EPA estimates and should prove more than enough for most SUV owners' needs.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a way to haul seven people without the "Soccer Mom" stigma associated with driving a minivan, check out the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder. The Pathfinder's four-wheel-drive system is capable of challenging the best off-road vehicles in the industry, proving that its rugged image isn't just for show.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're seeking seven passenger seating in a vehicle that is both smooth riding and fuel efficient, you may want to look toward a crossover SUV such as the GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot or, if you have the money, Audi Q7 TDI.

What's Significant About This Car?

In celebration of the Pathfinder's 25th anniversary, Nissan introduced a limited production Pathfinder Silver Edition. In addition to specially designed machine-finished aluminum wheels, the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder Silver Edition includes such luxuries as leather seating with Silver Edition badging, heated seats and side mirrors, and a Bose audio system.

Driving It Driving Impressions

After spending a few days behind the wheel of both two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive 2011 Nissan Pathfinder, including the LE-V8 model, we came away thoroughly satisfied with both our off-road and on-road experiences. One feature that won universal praise from our editorial staff is Nissan's XN All-Mode four-wheel drive system found on the LE V8. Unlike rudimentary four-wheel drive systems, XN-All Mode can distribute torque to all four wheels, and up to 50 percent to the front wheels when needed. The system's ability to overcome all obstacles was particularly appreciated during our steeper, more strenuous off-road exploits. When not playing in the wild Texas outback, the Pathfinder behaved like a perfect family wagon, delivering smooth shifts, confident turning ability and a stiff but still civilized ride.

Favorite Features

Folding Three-Row Seating
The Pathfinder converts quickly and easily from seven-passenger troop transport to cavernous cargo hauler.

Bose Audio
With its ten speakers, including two powerful subwoofers, this system may not literally be able to blow the doors off the Pathfinder, but it sure feels like it.

Vehicle Details Interior

Like so many mid-size SUVs, the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder offers room for seven passengers, but in reality its third-row seat can only comfortably accommodate kids who are around 10 years old. When not in use, the Pathfinder's third-row seat folds completely flush into the floor, and its second-row seating can be folded flat without needing to remove the head restraints. As for comfort, the Pathfinder's interior is equipped with firm but supportive seating, a logically designed dash and instrument cluster and plenty of storage throughout the cabin. We particularly fancy Nissan's choice of cloth seating material, which is both durable and attractive.

Exterior

The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't try to impress with whimsical styling and new-age architecture; it's just a straightforward, slab-sided SUV with a purposeful look and the goods to back it up. With a familial front end shared with other Nissan trucks such as the Armada and Frontier, the Pathfinder is easily identifiable as a Nissan product. Whether in a crowded parking lot or boulder-strewn wash, Pathfinder's short front and rear overhangs and somewhat narrow body allow easy maneuvering. While we applaud the factory roof rack's handsome good looks, we fear it might not match up with the weight ratings or versatility offered by leading aftermarket systems.

Notable Standard Equipment

Noteworthy as standard on all three 2011 Nissan Pathfinder trim levels are the impressive V6, fold-flat third-row seating, five-speed automatic transmission, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system, front side and side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system. The LE V6 includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-appointed first- and second-row seats with four-way power front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, Bose audio system with 10 speakers and subwoofer, driver's memory package (seat, mirrors and pedals), heated outside mirrors, automatic on/off headlights, RearView Monitor, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Nissan Intelligent Key. The Pathfinder LE -V8 adds the 5.6-liter V8, XN All-Mode 4x4 system, navigation and special badging.

Notable Optional Equipment

Option packages for the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder are limited to the LE trim. The Value Package adds a DVD player, 7.0-inch color monitor for rear passengers, rear seat wireless headphones and power moonroof; also available is a navigation package and a DVD entertainment system. Standalone options include fog lights, a hatch tent kit, side running boards, keypad entry and vehicle alarm.

Under the Hood

The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder's standard 4.0-liter V6, which is a Nissan workhorse, is a powerful and torque-happy engine that's well suited to the needs of the average SUV owner. For those who need extra horsepower and towing ability, the optional 5.6-liter V8 is the obvious answer, adding an additional 100 foot-pounds of torque and 44 more horsepower.

4.0-liter V6
266 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
288 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (2WD), 14/20 (4WD)

5.6-liter V8
310 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
388 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (4WD)

Pricing Notes

Available in three main trim levels, S, SV and LE, the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder's pricing is consistent with others in this category. Prices range from around $29,000 for a base two-wheel-drive S to nearly $47,000 for a nicely equipped four-wheel-drive LE V8. Before you head out to buy a new Pathfinder, be sure to check out our Fair Purchase Price to see what consumers are currently paying for their new vehicles. The Pathfinder's resale value is expected to stay slightly higher than the Dodge Durango, remain on par with the Chevrolet Tahoe but fall short of the Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner.

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