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2008 Nissan Pathfinder – Review

by The Review CrewAugust 18, 2010

Introduction

For the first time in its 22-year history, Nissan is offering a V-8 engine in the mid-size, three-row Pathfinder SUV. The base engine remains the excellent and powerful 4.0-liter V-6 with 266 horsepower. Completely redesigned in 2005, the Pathfinder enters 2008 with not only a new, 310-hp V-8 but also a host of exterior and interior design changes.

Built on the same F-Alpha body-on-frame platform that underpins the Nissan Xterra and the Nissan Frontier, the Pathfinder is solid and sturdy, but it is a bit heavier than some of the newer crossover (unibody) sport-utility vehicles. The driving experience is sportier than the truckish body-on-frame architecture might lead one to believe, however. Pathfinders have good steering, strong brakes, and feel well built. Adding a V-8 gives the Pathfinder impressive acceleration and boosts towing capacity to 7000 pounds.

The popularity of crossover utility vehicles has eaten into the Pathfinder’s traditional body-on-frame SUV segment, and the number of vehicles that compete against the Pathfinder continues to dwindle. Direct competitors (mid-size body-on-frame sport-utility vehicles) to the Pathfinder include the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer, GMC Envoy, Toyota 4Runner, and upcoming Kia Borrego. The Pathfinder is a standout in its segment, thanks to its two powerful engines and its combination of decent on-road refinement and capability.

Pathfinders come in six different trim levels—S, SE V-6, SE Off Road, SE V-8, LE V-6, and LE V-8—that encompass everything from the very basic to the off-road ready to luxurious and leather-lined. The S and the SE Off Road are V-6 only; the SE Off Road is 4WD only.

Verdict

The Pathfinder might not have the lighter structure and overtly carlike demeanor of a crossover utility vehicle, but it does offer a tougher look, excellent steering and handling, and the choice of two terrific and beefy engines. For those still shopping for a traditional SUV with three rows, the Pathfinder is among the best in its segment.

What’s New for 2008

For 2008, the Pathfinder gets a revised interior that includes a richer-looking center console and instrument gauges. Other changes include new front and rear fascias and new wheel designs that attempt to give the Pathfinder a more up-to-date look. New optional equipment includes the 310-hp, 5.6-liter V-8 and a 9.3-gigabyte music storage system.

Trim Levels

At the bottom of the Pathfinder lineup is the S model that starts at $26,665 for rear-wheel drive (2WD) and $28,665 for the four-wheel-drive (4WD) version. Standard equipment on the S includes the 266-hp, 4.0-liter V-6; a five-speed automatic transmission; stability control; anti-lock brakes; tire-pressure monitoring; front-seat active head restraints and seatbelt pretensioners; 16-inch aluminum wheels; roof rails; a towing hitch; air conditioning; power windows, doors, and locks; remote keyless entry; a theft alarm; cruise control; three-row seating; cloth upholstery; and an AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers.

The next step up is the SE V-6 that costs $29,965 with 2WD and $31,965 with 4WD; the SE V-8 begins at $31,565 for 2WD and $33,815 for 4WD. SE models add fog lights, a backup camera, an eight-way power driver’s seat, power-adjustable pedals, auto dual-zone climate control, rear-seat air conditioning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, and an auxiliary music input. The SE V-6 gets 17-inch aluminum wheels; the SE V-8 gets 18-inch aluminum wheels.

For the buyer who intends to take his or her Pathfinder off-road or just wants a sportier look, Nissan offers the SE Off Road, which starts at $34,875. In addition to the equipment that comes on the SE V-6 trim level, the SE Off Road adds standard 4WD, heavy-duty Bilstein shocks, hill-descent and hill-ascent control, 16-inch aluminum wheels with off-road-ready tires, skid plates, a power sunroof, XM satellite radio, and a 10-speaker Bose stereo system with AM/FM/CD and auxiliary capabilities.

For those seeking luxury, a Pathfinder in LE V-6 or LE V-8 trim should fill the bill.

Rear-drive models start at $35,765 for the LE V-6 and $37,465 for the LE V-8; 4WD is a $2200 option on both. LE models come with everything that is standard on the SE trim levels and add a power sunroof, automatic headlights, leather trim for the first and second rows, heated front seats and exterior mirrors, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags, three-row curtain airbags, wood-tone trim, a 10-speaker Bose stereo system with AM/FM/CD and auxiliary capability, XM satellite radio, and a four-way power passenger seat. Aside from the powertrain differences, the LE V-6 comes with 17-inch aluminum wheels and the LE V-8 comes with 18-inch aluminum wheels.

Optional Equipment

The Pathfinder S only offers two options: 4WD ($2000) and a side-airbag package ($700) that has front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and a three-row curtain airbag.

SE V-6 and SE V-8 models offer 4WD ($2000 on V-6 models and $2250 on V-8 versions), XM satellite radio ($150), White Frost pearlescent paint ($300), the Premium package (10-speaker Bose stereo, automatic headlights, and power sunroof) for $1850, the Side Air Bags package ($700), the Leather package (leather-trimmed first- and second-row seats, heated front seats and outside mirrors, power four-way passenger seat) for $1850, and the rear-seat Nissan DVD Entertainment package that adds a roof-mounted seven-inch LCD, a DVD player, and two headphones for $1600. Buyers interested in the SE Off Road model will face the same choices as SE V-6 and SE V-8 buyers minus the not-available pearlescent paint. The Premium package and XM satellite radio are standard on the SE Off Road.

The luxurious LE model comes very well equipped and offers but a handful of options. These include 4WD ($2200); the Nissan Navigation package with a seven-inch touch screen ($2400), Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, keyless start, and a hard-drive-based music storage system; the Nissan DVD Entertainment package; and White Frost pearlescent paint.

Safety

Dual front airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-seat active headrests, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability control, and tire-pressure monitoring are standard across the Pathfinder lineup. Front-seat-mounted side impact airbags and three-row curtain airbags are standard on the LE V-6 and LE V-8 and optional on all other Pathfinder models for $700.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.
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