Page 1: Introduction
DETROIT, MI - President Clinton hadn't yet dallied with Monica Lewinsky and was battling Senator Bob Dole for leadership of the United States when last the Nissan Pathfinder was redesigned. Heck, we barely knew Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey. And most automakers were just starting to get the hang of building a decent, family-friendly SUV, having given Ford a five-year lead with the runaway hit, the Explorer.
When that 1996 Nissan Pathfinder arrived, it was highly regarded for its blend of off-road capability and on-road handling, and it represented a quantum leap over the durable but agrarian original Pathfinder that it replaced, which itself was nearly a decade old. The '96 Pathfinder drove more like a car than a truck on pavement, and in the dirt it drove more like a truck than a car. But except for minor changes to keep it competitive, Nissan did not update the Pathfinder much…until now.
The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is completely redesigned, based on the automaker's new F-Alpha truck frame, which it shares with the all-new Nissan Frontier. This is a fully boxed steel frame, strong and sturdy for towing and tough going. The Pathfinder isn't a crossover suv, despite its front and rear double-wishbone suspension setup. In fact, it's equipped with skid plates to protect the underside from the terrain it's built to conquer.
Of course, the two-wheel-drive version is best kept finding well-traveled paths. Four-wheel-drive models are equipped with Nissan's All-Mode 4WD system that includes four settings: rear-wheel-drive, automatic 4WD, 4WD High and 4WD Low. A sophisticated off-road traction control system helps the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder grip Mother Earth.
Page 2: Features
The rear doors and C-pillar angle toward the rear of the vehicle for a unique look and easier access to the standard third-row seat. That's right, the new Nissan Pathfinder can carry seven passengers. If additional cargo space is needed, the third-row can split fold flat to the floor. The front passenger seat also folds flat to carry longer items. The dashboard offers simple ergonomics, and is trimmed with metallic inserts for a modern ambience.
Options on the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder include DVD navigation and entertainment systems, Bose audio with a CD changer and MP3 player, satellite radio, side curtain airbags with rollover protection, stability control, special gas-charged shocks and power adjustable pedals.
Does the new 2005 Nissan Pathfinder impress? Sure it does. As one reporter quipped after seeing the new model, "That company can't go wrong." But today's SUV playing field is far more crowded than when that impressively capable 1996 model came to market, and consumers are increasingly choosing crossover vehicles rather than traditionally sturdy SUVs when it comes to select the next suburban family hauler. Nevertheless, if you desire or need a roomy, old school sport-ute with true off-roading capability, the redesigned 2005 Nissan Pathfinder deserves consideration.
--Photos courtesy of Nissan North America