2005 Nissan Pathfinder
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The new third-generation Nissan Pathfinder is like many new sport-utility vehicles, in that it has more power and is larger than its predecessor, inside and out. It also finally offers seating for seven, although the standard third-row seat is hard to reach and best suited to children.
The midsize Pathfinder is the senior member of Nissan sport utes. The first Pathfinder arrived for the 1987 model year and was a hit, being stylish with a car-like ride and good off-road prowess.
The new Pathfinder's predecessor had slicker styling than the rather bulky looking 2005 model, but had become too dated. While lighter and more maneuverable than newer competitors, it had less interior space and no third-row seat, which is a feature almost taken for granted in many larger, popular SUVs.
The new model retains the Pathfinder's signature, integrated high-mounted rear door handles, which look like custom items. Large front door handles are in conventional spots and are easy to use even while wearing thick gloves.
The 2005 Pathfinder's former car-like unibody construction has been replaced by more rugged body-on-frame construction, with an all-steel frame based on the platform of the Armada and big Titan pickup truck.
A new independent rear suspension helps deliver better ride and roadability, although rough roads leave occupants no doubt that they're in a truck and not something like a car-based crossover vehicle.
Standard features include anti-lock, all-disc brakes and anti-skid/traction control systems.
Advanced off-road traction systems are offered. Front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags for side impact and rollover protection for all seating rows are standard in the top-line LE and cost $700 on the other trim levels.
Four Trim Levels
Even the XE is decently equipped with comfort and convenience features, while the LE has such standard items as leather upholstery and power heated front seats — along with a power sunroof and upscale sound system.
Option packages have items such as dual-zone automatic climate controls and navigation and DVD entertainment systems.
The engine works with a five-speed automatic transmission, which upshifts smoothly and downshifts quickly to help allow fast passing. It also lets the engine loaf at 75 mph.
The power rack-and-pinion steering is responsive and has the right amount of assist for a tall, heavy sport utility. Handling is good, but sudden maneuvers such as quick lane changes make a driver aware that he's in a tall, heavy SUV. The brake pedal is soft, but its linear action allows smooth stops.
While smoother, the larger V6 calls for a little more fuel, delivering an estimated 16 mpg in the city and 23 on highways with rear-wheel drive and 15 and 21 with two available 4-wheel-drive systems. They have low-range gearing for tough off-road use. One of the systems can be used on dry roads, but not the other. The Off-Road version has items including special shock absorbers, hill descent control and hill-start assist.
There's room inside the quiet, nicely finished interior for five tall adults in the first two seating rows, although four are more comfortable.
Enormous Cargo Area
Gauges can be quickly read, and the easily reached sound system and climate controls are decently sized. Comfortable front seats provide good lateral support, large front and rear cupholders are handily located and windshield posts have sturdy, thoughtful grab handles to assist entry and exit.
Moving the third-row seatbacks forward can be done from the rear of the cargo area, but returning them to their normal upright positions calls for climbing into the cargo area or doing that task from the second-row seat area. All but the LE has a fold-flat front passenger seat for accommodating especially long cargo.
The new Pathfinder is derived from a good, strong full-size SUV. It has a lot more competition than in 1987, but is far more competitive than its predecessors.