2008 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4: New-School Style and Function
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
If you are old-school, “Pathfinder” to you, is a novel by James Fenimore Cooper that is set in the Great Lakes of the 1750s and traces the adventures of the Leatherstocking Deerslayer, Natty Bumppo, a woodsman and champion of Native Americans.
If you are rocket-age and more likely to look skyward than in the pages of a book, then Pathfinder to you, relates to the Mars Pathfinder, launched December 4, 1966. It was equipped with an alpha proton x-ray spectrometer and three cameras, and set up to rove around the Red Planet after using a giant system of airbags to cushion the impact and land softly on the surface.
But if you are a contemporary vehicle-seeker, and rugged, good-looking sports-utes are your vehicles of choice, the name means something different to you. If you want your stylish SUV equipped with a navigational system, front and rear crumple zones, energy-absorbing steering column and a comprehensive set of air bags, then Pathfinder to you is the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, and it is your ticket to explore the frontier or your local neighborhood.
Assembled at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee manufacturing plant, with engines supplied by Nissan’s nearby Decherd, Tennessee engine facility, the mid-size Nissan Pathfinder began life in the United States as a compact SUV in 1986 and was known elsewhere around the globe as the Terrano. Several generations later, the 2008 Pathfinder has doubled its number of doors, nearly doubled its horsepower and torque and made substantial gains in safety, performance, luxury upgrades and design.
From a styling perspective, the Pathfinder looks powerful. Broad, muscular shoulders, angled signature grille, sweeping hood, high-mounted rear door handles and athletic wheel wells give the ‘Finder a sophisticated-but-robust, I-can-go-anywhere appearance.
While it LOOKS powerful, I found my test Pathfinder’s a 4.0-liter DOHC V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, lacking in real power. A viable option is the available 300-plus horsepower 5.6-liter V-8 engine that thunders out 300 lbs.-ft. of torque. My test ride’s set-up, linked to a five-speed automatic transmission, thumped out 266hp and 288 lbs.-ft. of torque; and it simply didn’t measure up to the look and expected performance of such a stalwart beast.
Weighing in at 4875 lbs., the 4.0-liter lumbered down the highway and struggled at passing speeds. At the track, with a decent amount of low-end torque, I was able to push from zero to 60mph in 8.1 seconds, on my way to a quarter-mile time of 16.4. The Pathfinder’s rated towing capacity of 6,000 lbs. might be close to reality, and the plant is strong enough to get you out of minor off-road trouble if you are mudding or pothole popping.
Even with the smaller engine, the SUV’s EPA rating was a very pump-unfriendly 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Utilizing the change-on-the-fly 2WD-to-4WD feature when necessary, my week of testing came in at 16.9 mpg, with about 70 percent of the miles traveled on Pennsylvania and Maryland highways, 25 percent in towns and cities and 5 percent exploring rough terrain.
During off-road tests, I found the "F-Alpha" platform, with a fully boxed, all-steel ladder frame to be solid and dependable. Back on the highway, the four-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension provided unhesitating handling, but a very stiff ride, more in the European style than in the fashion most American soccer moms and dads are accustomed to.
The Pathfinder attends to safety with such standard features as zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones, energy-absorbing steering column and the Nissan Advanced Air Bag System. This arrangement features dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors and a front occupant classification sensor; 3-point seat belts for all rear seat occupants, including the second row center position; adjustable second- and third-row head restraints; LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchor system; Vehicle Dynamic Control and tire pressure monitor system. Also on-board are supplemental front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and roof-mounted supplemental curtain air bags for side impact and rollover head protection for outboard passengers in all three rows.
My Silverton Blue ride was accented by a graphite interior that was classy and luxurious in its attempt to meet the challenges of active family lifestyles. From heated outside mirrors to power slide and tilt sunroof, the cabin is enhanced by upscale user-friendly staples including four 12-volt outlets, passenger assist grips, outside temperature gauge, remote keyless entry, trip computer and climate control system and power windows and door locks.
The Pathfinder’s base price is set at $37,000 and it is nearly completely equipped with standard items. My test vehicle added floor mats ($155) and an HDD Navigation package ($2400) that includes navi with a 9.3gb music server, Bose CD unit, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, intelligent key and XM NavTraffic real-time traffic updates. Pop on destination charges of $705, and my test Pathfinder stickered at $40,260.
The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder is a new-school vehicle with old-school quality.
# # #
Journalist note: Information about the Carlisle Events Group, its event listings, auction offerings and expo center is available to journalists by phone:
Carlisle Event Marketing Dept.
# # #