2010 Nissan Pathfinder Review – An exceptionally rugged and versatile SUV

Expert Reviews Nissan

By Francis Cebedo

The Good

  • Legacy car with pedigree
  • Body on frame chassis
  • Good towing ability
  • Good off-road ability
  • Powerful V6 motor
  • Seats 7 with many available configurations

The Nissan Pathfinder has been around the block a few too many times. It was quite revolutionary when it debuted in the mid-1980′s and a great response to Toyota’s 4Runner as it defined a new category of truck that could move 5 passengers with all their gear. Fast forward a few years and the Pathfinder has been slowly updated but never quite redone. New features for this year include a standard moonroof on the LE V6 model, a standard navigation system on the LE V8, and simplified exterior and interior color combinations. Minimal updates allowed Nissan to hold on to a loyal customer base and offer a vehicle to the person looking for a traditional body-on-frame chassis as opposed to the new crop of unibody SUVs.

So the strengths of the Pathfinder are the classic truck chassis virtues. It can tow a lot and it can handle rough roads or trails. Towing ability is up to 6000 pounds with either a V6 or V8 engine. And off-road ability is athletic and definitely better than the new crop of crossover SUVs, SAVs and CUVs like the Acura RDX.

2010 Nissan Pathfinder interior

The standard engine is a 4.0-liter V6 producing 270 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque. A 5.6-liter V8 is optional, making 310 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a five-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. The V6 is the smart choice here as the power is more than adequate and mileage is acceptable at 14 city and 20 highway.

The strength of the Pathfinder is that it seats 7 and the seating and storage configuration are extremely flexible. The seats can be folded down flat in so many different permutations that the kids, dogs and luggage are sure to fit inside.

2010 Nissan Pathfinder 2010 Nissan Pathfinder rear cargo area 2010 Nissan Pathfinder has lots of legroom

The Bad

  • Feels like a legacy car with its dated styling and form factor
  • Mileage is lower that vehicles of its size
  • Interior ergonomics and styling are past due for an update
  • 5 of the 7 passengers can’t be too big

So now that we’ve covered the good, what about the bad? Well legacy is the optimist perspective as the pessimist will say ‘dated’. The car has all the modern updates but it does feel like an old platform. It is well done but if you’ve driven many brand new SUVs like us, you will notice that this is not a fresh puppy.

The exterior design is a bit dated with its angular styling. The design is conservative and really not one that will get you a lot of looks or compliments on the street. Same goes with the interior. It is not modern and will not hold a candle to the latest, flowy, color-coordinated creations of today.

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

We said this was a body-on-frame chassis. That’s where its strengths lie but that’s where its weaknesses can be found too. It is a bit heavy and high off the ground. Thus, it doesn’t handle that well on the road and you can feel the burden of the weight under heavy acceleration and braking.

Also, the ride is not as smooth as the generation of SUVs since uneven pavement can unsettle the car with vibrations at highway speeds. Rough roads at low speeds, as well, will remind you that this is more like a truck.

Fuel economy is not that thrilling either as you’ll always be in the high teens with mixed driving. The redeeming quality is that the motor is torquey and responsive.

Finally, although there are a lot of seats, they get smaller and smaller as you get to the third row. They’re more appropriate for children at that point.

View from the 3rd row seats

The Bottom Line
So the bottom line is the Pathfinder is not for everybody and the sales figure will show it. The ideal buyer is Nissan brand loyal customer who is looking to carry passengers, tow some toys and go off-road a bit. If those qualifiers match, you may be a match and you’ll be rewarded with a vehicle that has been around, does its business quite well and you know will last many years.

Other options to consider are the Toyota 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, VW Touareg, Dodge Durango.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.5 4.0 4.0 3.5 3.5 3.75 3.9/B-

Nissan Pathfinder Photo Gallery

Nissan Pathfinder

2010 Nissan Pathfinder Specs

NissanThe official site for Nissan cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and hybrids – www.nissanusa.com

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  • here says:

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  • more says:

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  • kc says:

    I love this pathfinder with its rugged body on frame chassis. You feel its built on iron gurders,ive wacked my underneath on rocks and still nothing. Nissan is mad if they ever revert to another cross over platform. They should just leave it the way it is and just add more on road refinement if they wanna sell more, thats it. Like their new HBMC system. Mr.Dominique hope you read this one day. We got enough girly crossovers around, let the big boys be as they are.

  • francois says:

    Aside from the Toyota 4runner, who is the direct competition for this vehicle? It seems they are few and far between now.


    • Derek says:

      Competitors in this class are the new Toyota 4Runner, 2010 (or earlier) Dodge Durango or Ford Explorer. If you have a bigger wallet, than the Land Rover LR4 is also an option. All of the above are built with a body-on-frame chassis.

      Most people have light duty towing requirements and more SUVs are being built on a unibody chassis. The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer, 2011 Dodge Durango and new Jeep Grand Cherokee are the latest to be converted over from a truck chassis to a unibody chassis.

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