2010 Nissan Pathfinder Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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Nissan's original Pathfinder was introduced in 1986 as a compact SUV intended for serving the needs of the adventurous.  Not one to make changes simply for the sake of change, Nissan enters the 2010 model year, the third year of production for the third-generation Pathfinder, with more of a design evolution than anything new.  The Pathfinder has continued to grow considerably, not only in size, but also in comfort, performance capabilities, seating capacity, innovative features and functionality. 

Now a midsize SUV, the Pathfinder offers seating room for seven occupants along with all of their gear.  For 2010, the new three-row Pathfinder provides first class accommodations, along with a rugged drivetrain capable of going nearly anywhere on- or off-road. 

Power for the Pathfinder comes from a V6 engine, available only in 4x4 configuration.  It's a 4.0-litre version of Nissan's award-winning VQ-Series V6, delivering 266-horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque.  The V8, only offered in the US, but previously available here in the 2008 model year, is 5.6 litres in displacement, generating 310 horsepower along with 388 pound-feet of torque, which gives the US version the ability to tow up to 3,175 kilos (7,000 pounds) when properly equipped. All Pathfinders are built on a high-strength, fully boxed, all-steel frame based on the same platform architecture used for the full-size Nissan Armada SUV.  

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is available in three different models: S, SE, and LE.  Changes for the 2010 model year include revised exterior and interior colour combinations and the addition of a moonroof as standard fare on the Pathfinder LE. 
My test Nissan Pathfinder came in LE trim, power provided by the 4.0-litre V6 with the All-Mode Four-Wheel Drive system. The exterior was finished in Silver Lightning metallic, complemented by a Graphite leather interior; leather is standard on the LE.  The base LE sticker read $47,348, while optional features and equipment elevated the final total to $ 53,648, including $1,500 for freight and PDI.  Options included a $2,000 DVD Entertainment Package featuring a DVD player with a ceiling-mounted 178 mm (7 inch) colour display and rear seat wireless headphones plus remote control, and the $2,800 Pathmaster Nissan Navigation Package hard drive touch-screen actuated navigation system featuring a 9.3GB "Music Box" and tire pressure monitoring.  Want to keep the price down?  The standard equipment inventory is quite impressive and complete in its own right.

The Pathfinder was one of the pioneers in the SUV marketplace, and Nissan's years of experience in producing such a vehicle has allowed them to get it right.  The Pathfinder makes no pretense at being anything other than an SUV – and it does so in admirable fashion.  It not only looks like an SUV, but also performs as an SUV should.  The 4.0-litre delivers adequate power, with satisfactory acceleration. 

Handling characteristics border on the athletic, while ride quality is a tad on the firm side, and the Four-Wheel Drive system results in a reduced turning radius.  That same four-while drive system includes a low range for serious off-road duty, a claim necessary for true SUV status. 

The Pathfinder is now much more contemporary in its overall appeal, being considerably less boxy than the original.  Its smoother lines haven't given it less interior room, however, due to its larger footprint, and its level of amenities has grown substantially over the first generation Pathfinder, adding to its comfort level. 

In the final analysis, the 2010 Pathfinder LE 4x4 reflects a favourable evolution toward perfection. Arguably, there are many who look upon SUVs with disdain, and will likely find nothing good to say at all about the Pathfinder.  On the other hand, for SUV fans, the Pathfinder has blazed the trail, earning the right to exist.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Nissan, 2010, Pathfinder, $40,000 - $49,999,

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