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2012 Nissan Pathfinder

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2012 Nissan Pathfinder Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/4/2011


Although getting a bit long in the tooth, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV is still a good value, especially for those who still need a rugged body-on-frame vehicle that can tow heavy loads and venture off-road. With a choice of V6 or V8 engines, and the ability to tow up to 7,000 pounds, the Pathfinder is clearly superior to most CUVs. It can even out-tow the new Ford Explorer by 2,000 pounds. The 2012 Pathfinder's 7-passenger seating makes it ideal to serve as the family commuter, as does its long list of safety and security features. Still, when placed up against newer models like the Dodge Durango, the Pathfinder loses ground in the area of horsepower, fuel economy and price.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a dual-purpose SUV, one that can safely get you and family to and fro, but also serve as a rugged off-road and hauling machine, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV is one of a few dwindling body-on-frame SUVs from which to choose.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If tow ratings and off-road prowess are not as important as interior styling, the latest creature comforts and a carlike ride (not to mention a usable third-row seat), you'd be far better served in a Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot or GMC Acadia.

What's New for 2012

For 2012, Nissan gives its Pathfinder SUV a few more features, including navigation on the LE trim and an available moonroof and DVD entertainment system on the Silver Edition.

Driving It Driving Impressions

We spent some time behind the wheel of both the 2-wheel and 4-wheel-drive 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV, in V6 and loaded V8 LE trim, and came away quite impressed with both variations. Of particular noteworthiness is Nissan's XN All-Mode 4-wheel-drive system on our LE V8 test car. Unlike rudimentary 4-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. And, when we returned to the open highway, we found not a rough, truck-like ride expected of such an adept off-road suspension, but a fairly smooth, easily controlled driving experience.

Favorite Features

Folding 3-Row Seating
The Pathfinder converts quickly and easily from 7-passenger troop transport to cavernous cargo hauler.

Bose Audio
With its 10 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

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV's interior is inviting and comfortable, but not very modern. Hard plastic surfaces abound, although storage space is plentiful and we did like the seat fabric, which was both attractive and durable. The seat foam used by Nissan favors the firmer side of comfort, but we liked the back and thigh support it provided. While the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV claims to seat seven, in truth the third-row seat would be horribly cramped with two adults back there. Most people will probably choose to fold it away and take advantage of the roomy flat cargo floor that is perfect for a week's worth of groceries or a weekend's worth of gear. Additional space is provided by the folding second-row seats that can be laid flat without the need to remove the head restraints.

Exterior

Where many new SUVs blur the line between truck and sedan, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV remains firmly rooted in the rough-and-rugged camp. Slab-sided styling, a tall roofline, and big ground clearance all speak of a vehicle with off-road intent. But, the Pathfinder SUV's purposeful look is also a handsome one, with a familiar Nissan front grille and headlight treatment, bulging flares over the wheel wells and stylish alloy wheels. We do think the placement of the rear door handle high up on the door frame makes it tough for little ones to access the back seat without a grown-up's assist, and the factory roof rack, while appreciated, can't match the weight ratings and versatility of a good aftermarket system.

Notable Standard Equipment

Noteworthy as standard on all three 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV trim levels are the impressive V6 engine, fold-flat third-row seating, 5-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 4-way power front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, Bose audio system with 10 speakers and subwoofer, navigation, 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, and special badging.

Notable Optional Equipment

Option packages for the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV are limited to the LE and Silver Edition trims. The LE's 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 moonroof and a DVD entertainment system for the Silver Edition. Stand-alone options include foglights, a hatch tent kit, side running boards, keypad entry and vehicle alarm.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV'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 pound-feet of torque and 44 more horsepower.

4.0-liter V6
266 horsepower @ 5.600 rpm
288 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 (2WD), 14/20 (4WD)

5.6-liter V8
310 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
388 lb-ft of torque @ 3,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18 (4WD)

Pricing Notes

Available in four main trim levels, S, SV, Silver Package and LE, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV's pricing is consistent with others in this category. Prices range from just over $29,000 for a base 2-wheel-drive S to nearly $48,000 for a nicely equipped 4-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 Ford Explorer but fall short of the Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner.

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