A crossover SUV manufactured by Nissan Motors since 1986, the Pathfinder originated from Nissan's compact pickup truck platform. It fits nicely in between the similarly sized Nissan Murano and Armada, but is closer in price between the Xterra and Murano. The Pathfinder's biggest competitor is the Toyota 4Runner. The first generation of the Pathfinder was produced from 1985 until 1995 and was produced in Japan and manufactured in Kyūshū, Japan, Jakarta, Indonesia and Purwakarta, Indonesia.
The Pathfinder originally arrived on the scene in two different bodies and shared numerous styling and features with the Nissan Hardbody Truck. Nissan wanted to compete with the likes of the new Chevy Blazer, the Jeep Cherokee and the Ford Bronco so the Pathfinder was constructed on a ladder-type frame. The first generation WD21 Pathfinders was offered in both 2WD and 4WD configurations and until 1989 they came with a two-door body. The Pathfinder grew to a four-door body in the U.S. early on in 1990, and though some US models came in 2-door bodies, they were quite rare. To make the 4-door version look like a 2-door truck with a camper shell, Nissan designed the door handles to be concealed as part of the 'C' pillar trim, with the conventional door handles on the front doors. Today this design theme is still used on all Nissan SUVs, including the Xterra and the Armada.
Until 1990 the 2-door Pathfinder was available in Canada. Until 1989 the model was available with either the Nissan VG30i 3.0 L V6, or the Nissan Z24i 2.4 L I4. The V6 was upgraded in 1990 from throttle body injection to a multi point fuel injection system. This power plant was know as VG30E and was rated at 153 hp and 180 lb•ft of torque. The Z24i was also replaced with the KA24E in the same year. In various countries this first generation also came with a 2.7 L I4 Diesel Engine known as the TD27 with a turbocharger option to increase power rating.
In 1990 the Pathfinder underwent a revamp with the arrival of the 4-door model. Among the revisions was a revised front grille and a variety of interior trim level options along with numerous exterior packages being offered by dealerships. For 1993 the Pathfinder received a third brake light, and the following year a curved dashboard was introduced.
The second generation of the Pathfinder was introduced in 1996 until 2004. It debuted with a much more rounded styling design and a brand new redesign from the past generation. The model switched from body on frame construction to unibody construction. An engine upgrade this generation landed the Pathfinder with the VG33E with 168 hp and 196 lb•ft of torque.
1999 brought about another refresh of the lineup, and two years later a new 240 hp V6 engine, the VQ35DE was introduced. The Pathfinder grew larger in size through its facelift to make way for the very compact Xterra. The Japanese and European models continued to used diesel engines. The Pathfinder/Terrano model were not longer available for sale in Japan after 2002. Though the model is still available in North America, the Middle East and Europe.
For 2000 the Pathfinder underwent a pretty serious update that included a new front fascia two grille variants, rear fascia and the interior. Again in 2002 the car once again experienced a facelift that included adding the current Altima-lined Nissan logo along with a zestier grille. A new steering wheel and radio display was also added.
A whole new redesigned Pathfinder appeared at the 2004 North American International Auto Show for the 2005 model year. This was the third generation of the Pathfinder dubbed the R51 series from 2005 until 2012. The model used the Nissan F-Alpha platform, which returned the vehicle to a body on frame construction. This model is powered by a 4.0 L V6 engine VQ40DE, 288 lb•ft or a 2.5 L YD25DDTi, 403 N•m Turbo Diesel.
The full-size SUV Pathfinder Armada was introduced late during 2003. Despite sharing a common name the two models used different platforms and had very few similarities. In 2005 the 'Pathfinder' was dropped from its name, leaving it simply 'Armada'. Outside of North America the Pathfinder has been marketed as the 'Terrano'. Rising to International fame in 2005, the redesigned Pathfinder was sold worldwide, and for the first time in the UK. A third row of seats was added to the Pathfinder line for the first time in 2005. Unfortunately the 2005 thru 2010 models have been subject to a class action lawsuit due to cracks in the radiator that permit coolant to leak into the transmission which results in permanent damage. The only recourse is radiator and transmission replacement.
Introduced at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show was the redesigned 2008 Nissan Pathfinder. It sported newly updated badge positions on the rear lift-gate and the addition of the Titan's 5.6-liter V8 engine rated at 310 hp and 388 lb•ft. The Pathfinder was once again updated for the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. The model was now available with a Nissan 3.0-liter V6 Turbodiesel engine that produced 240 hp, 406 lb•ft at 2,500 rpm. Owners could choose an upgraded YD25DDTi Turbodiesel with power rising up to 140 kW – up 14 kW with torque increasing to 450 Nm. Certain markets offered a version of the engine with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). The R51 Series remains manufactured and sold outside of the U.S.
To set them apart from their predecessors, the updated models received a new look in the front and rear that included a new hood, a new bumper assembly and an updated grille. Both models increased in length about 80 mm and featured a more rounded bumper. Xenon lamps received a new headlamp design with projectors. Hidden under body color moldings in the bumpers were headlamp washers that popped up. New 18' alloy wheels went well with the existing range of 16-inch and 17-inch designs. The V6 models received subtle V7 badge at the leading edge of both front doors and a new side molding across the doors.
Late in 2012 the fourth generation R52 Pathfinder series was introduced as a 2013 model. Completely redesigned the Pathfinder was once again on a unibody design, moved away from body-on-frame, truck-based SUV. The newest model rides on the same platform as the Altima, Maxima, Infiniti JX, Murano and Quest. Much like previous generations, the Pathfinder balanced nicely between luxury and truck-like rugged capability.
Nissan expects that this generation will have a twenty-five percent improvement in fuel-efficiency over previous years. Only offered with a VQ35DE 3.5-Liter V6 engine, the power plant produces 260 hp. In its segment the Pathfinder is currently one of the lightest vehicles, with the FWD model only weighing 4,149 pounds and the 4WD model weighing only 4,290 pounds. Door handles were a thing of the past for this generation. The R52 series is only available in the U.S.
Debuting at the 2013 New York Auto Show was the Pathfinder Hybrid. It is scheduled to go on sale in the early fall in 2013 and is available with a new 2.5 L I4 Supercharged engine.Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson