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The Nissan Pathfinder is a four-door, seven passenger mid-size sport-utility vehicle. The Nissan Pathfinder first graced showrooms in 1986. Originally a two-door, compact SUV, over time the Pathfinder grew in terms of both size and capability in order to match the similar evolution of the Toyota 4Runner and also to catch up with domestic sport-utility vehicles. The Pathfinder was a preferred vehicle amongst off-road hobbyists due to its good trail capabilities and balance between size and power. As Nissan began to develop a more fully-fledged pickup truck program, the Pathfinder benefited from advances in frame construction as well as engines.

The Nissan Pathfinder is a mid-size SUV which uses a version of the same platform as Nissan’s full-size pickup trucks in order to provide drivers with better cargo capacity and increased power over previous models. The 2008 edition has been visually updated in order to bring it more in line with other trucks in the Nissan lineup, and the overall appearance of the vehicle is solid and reassuring.

There are two engine choices available to Pathfinder buyers. The first is a 266 horsepower, 4.0 liter V6 which generates a healthy 288 lb-ft of torque. Higher trim levels have access to a 5.6 liter V8 sourced from the Nissan Titan pickup truck, which bumps power up to 310 horsepower and 388 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, and both can be had with four-wheel drive.

There are many different trim levels available for the Pathfinder. The base S trim is clearly entry-level, and while it has air conditioning and power door locks and windows, it is missing most other amenities. The SE adds nicer wheels, a more functional roof rack and fog lights, while inside the SUV dual zone climate control and rear-air conditioning improve the passenger situation. The SE can also be had as the SE V8 which upgrades the engine and adds 18-inch wheels, or it can be ordered as the SE Off Road, which provides a heavier-duty suspension, skid plates and hill-assist in order to make for smoother wilderness encounters. The highest trim levels, the LE V6 and LE V8 include leather seating, a standard moon roof, and a heated steering wheel, along with a Bose stereo system.

The Pathfinder is designed to seat seven passengers, and the third row is not all that bad for adults during short trips. The second row is quite comfortable, and each of the seats can be individually folded to reveal substantial cargo room. The third row of seats, when folded flat into the floor, provides a ‘trunk’ of 43 cubic feet. Drivers will also be happy with the fact that either engine in the Pathfinder displays excellent performance both on road and off. Handling is what would be expected from a truck of this size, but comfort is good and fuel mileage with the optional V8 is an acceptable 18 miles per gallon in highway cruising and 12 miles per gallon in stop and go city traffic. These numbers increase to 22 and 15, respectively, in two-wheel drive V6 trim.

The Nissan Pathfinder continues to be one of the best compromises between pavement-pounding performance and off-road capabilities. With a V6 that is as powerful as some V8’s in the segment, the Pathfinder also provides good value, even at the gas pump.

The Nissan Pathfinder has a few changes since the 2008 models, including options hat are available, exterior colors and a few new features that are now standard. The new color options for the exterior paint include Navy Blue and Red Brick.

New standard features on all Pathfinder models include auto door locks that work with a speed sensor and side airbags in the front seat. For the LE trim level, there are now 18-inch wheels made from aluminum alloy on vehicles that have been upgraded with a V6 engine. Also new for the LE is standard Bluetooth capability. A new option for the SE and the LE trim levels is a Power Moonroof Package that is now available as an individual option. With the SE Journey Package, there are now 17-inch alloy wheels available.

There are five Pathfinder models and three trim levels available in 2009. The S-V6 model is available as a 4x2 or a 4x4. The SE-V6 model is available as either a 4x2 or a 4x4. The SE Off Road trim us a 4x4. The LE-V6 trim is available as either a 4x2 or a 4x4. The LE-V8 trim level us only available as a 4x4. The LE-V8 comes with a 5.6 liter, V8 engine with 310 horsepower and 388 pounds of torque and five-speed automatic transmission. It can tow up to 7,000 pounds. The Pathfinder’s V6 engine is a 4.0 liter version with 266 horsepower and 24 valves.

The Pathfinder base model comes standard with 16-inch wheels made from alloy, a CD player in the dash, six speakers, air-conditioning, a third row of seating, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows in the front, plenty of storage, remote door locks and plush seating for comfort. The SE comes with 17-inche wheels and the LE trim has 18-inche wheels standard.