Nissan’s Pathfinder debuted in the mid-1980s as a real, truck-based
sport utility vehicle. Like its numerous competitors, it has grown and
expanded its offerings over the years. Now, for 2008, Nissan has
introduced the first V8-powered Pathfinder.
The new 5.6-liter V8,
shared with the truly large Armada SUV and aptly named Titan full-size
pickup, provides 300 horsepower with a stump-pulling 380 lb.-ft. of
torque. The less mighty models get a perfectly strong 4.0-liter V6 that
pumps out a not insubstantial 266 horsepower with 288 lb.-ft. or torque.
That engine, in a 3.5-liter size, powers several other Nissan products
quite successfully and gets 4 to 5 miles-per-gallon better ratings from
The V8 averaged 14.2
miles per gallon, which straddles the new, more realistic 2008 EPA
numbers of 12 City, 18 Highway. That’s pretty much what you can expect
with a vehicle like this, but to give it credit, when you pack in seven
people and luggage, the miles-per-gallon-per-person ratio is quite
favorable. And the comfort of the passengers is notable, too.
The EPA Green Vehicle
list gives the Pathfinder V8 four-wheel-drive model a 6 for Air
Pollution and a 2 for Greenhouse gases.
Nissan makes no bones
about the fact that this Pathfinder is built on a sturdy fully-boxed,
high-strength steel frame. This is no sissy car-based crossover for the
Although you can buy a
Pathfinder in rear-wheel drive, you also can order four-wheel drive for
greater safety on the road. Nissan offers several different four-wheel
drive systems. Models with a V8 get the full-time “XN All-Mode” system
that instantly sends torque to wheels that need it for safer driving in
rain, snow, sand, and mud.
If you’re more serious
about riding trails, the SE-V6 Off Road model comes with the 4-Wheel
Limited-Slip system. You also get Hill Descent Control, which lets you
ease down a slope without having to work the brake pedal. Conversely,
you can climb upwards without sliding backwards when you use the Hill
Start Assist system.
My time was spent
piloting a Desert Stone SE level V8 model with four-wheel drive. The
weather was clear so I never experienced any need to use the
four-wheel-drive system at all. Sitting in the Café Latte interior, all
I felt was serenity as I traversed freeways and dashed around town.
The Pathfinder is
substantial, weighing in at 5,030 pounds, and is cavernous enough for a
standard three rows of seats. However, short front and rear overhangs
keep it from feeling like a barge or being too difficult to park. Towing
capacity with the V8 is 7,000 pounds, up 1,000 from the V6.
You can get a plain S
model with a V6 or jump to the luxurious LE model (with either engine),
but my rig was nicely equipped in the middle SE range. That pleasantness
was greatly enhanced by more than $6,000 worth of options, including XM
Satellite Radio, a leather package (leather seats with power adjustments
and heat), a DVD mobile entertainment system, and the SE Premium
This package features a
10-speaker Bose audio system with dual subwoofers and a power sliding
moonroof. My tester also had the Air Bag package, which added side
impact bags for front passengers and roof-mounted curtain side-impact
bags with rollover protection. All in all, a $32,850 SUV came to $38,860
when the list was tallied up. The most basic Pathfinder starts at
Interior styling is
21st-century truck, with strong, masculine shapes in soft, calming
feminine shades of tan. A little something for everyone, apparently.
Sitting up high in comfortable seats is a basic requirement with any
SUV, and this one felt substantial, well crafted, and fully featured.
I especially liked the
40/20/40 folding second row seats. With just the slim center section
lowered and the third row dropped flat, I was able to slide my big bass
in there with room for two second-row riders preserved. I’m sure the
same applies to surfboards and ladders.
And Nissan offers an
“Easy-Clean” rear cargo area and 12 utility hooks so you can secure your
gear and not worry about making a mess.
I was a little annoyed
by the dash controls. The center console, though attractively styled and
laid out, featured a heater control knob that felt and looked like the
radio volume knob, which, for some reason, was to the left of the center
panel. I kept changing the temperature when I wanted to adjust the
radio. And the tuning knob is way over on the passenger side - a long
reach in a car of this size. The only thing that made it tolerable is
that you can adjust volume and skip from preset to preset from the
Despite its Japanese
name, the Nissan Pathfinder is built in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the V8
engine is made just down the road in Decherd.
It’s about as
all-American as you could want. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net -
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2008 Nissan Pathfinder