The Pathfinder has only been fully redesigned twice in its twenty-five years, and the current SUV has carried the same basic design since 2005. So when it comes to the special editions, Nissan is adding packaging not changing the sheet metal. The Silver Edition includes 17" machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheels, exterior chrome inserts, Bose audio system (six disks, ten speakers), Bluetooth hands-free phone system, keyless ignition system, power front seats, heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, leather-appointed interior, and Silver Edition badging. It is available in either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, and both drivetrains are matched with the 4.0-liter 266 hp V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission.
Despite the name, the special edition Nissan Pathfinder is available in six other colors besides silver, including Nissan's new Espresso Black. The Silver Edition is available now, and pricing starts at $35,490.
Today's Pathfinder is not quite the same SUV that first showed up a quarter century ago. The first Pathfinder was a two-door only affair (not including the hatchback), with four doors not showing up until 1990. Even after doubling its doors, the original Pathfinder was smaller than today's Nissan Xterra. Seating capacity has grown to seven via the addition of third-row seating. Also the engine has grown from topping out at a 3.0-liter 145 hp V-6 to now offering the 5.6-liter 310 hp V-8 shared with the full-size Titan truck.
Nissan puts a positive spin on its increasing proportions. "Over the past 25 years, Pathfinder has grown substantially in size, comfort, performance, seating capacity, utility and innovation - keeping up with the changing needs of today's active SUV owners," says Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager for Nissan North America.
Despite its growth into family hauler territory, the Pathfinder has not lost all of its truck abilities. The available V-8 engine and ladder-frame construction means it can be equipped to tow a respectable 7,000 lbs. The V-6 versions are available with part-time four-wheel drive or Nissan's All-Mode four-wheel drive system that includes 2wd/auto/4WD Hi/4WD Lo modes.
The Pathfinder is competing in a shrinking body-on-frame market. GM left the seven-passenger mid-sized SUV years ago, Ford's Explorer is now a crossover, and the Toyota 4Runner only competes with Pathfinder's V-6 model. The only company mounting a new assault in this mid-size territory is the new Ram (Dodge) Durango. So, is it smart for Nissan to soldier through 2011 in a field that many are leaving, especially when its offering is getting a little old? Twenty-five years of continuous production likely proves the old-style still has appeal.