If Nissan's 2001 Pathfinder is still en route to its destination, it should travel a lot faster and easier this year. The sturdy sport-utility vehicle has an all-new engine with enough ponies to give it the highest horsepower in its class.
A subcompact that has evolved into a compact-size urban vehicle with room for five passengers, the Pathfinder is one of those safely styled SUVs you can take anywhere — preferably on pavement. Its off-road capabilities have never been meant for more than a dirt road, but otherwise it fulfills one's need to own a large vehicle that boasts four-wheel drive without ever having to engage it, unless you're at the North Pole.
On dealer showroom floors in March, the 2001 Pathfinder will be sold in the same three trim versions as its predecessor: the XE, SE and LE. All are available with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
The real story here is power. Common to all three versions, the new aluminum block 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 engine is 35 lb lighter than last year's model, yet pumps out 240 horsepower (250 hp with the manual transmission) and is based on the VQ engine series currently in Nissan's flagship Maxima sedan. Torque has been increased by 65 ft-lb to give you more push when you need it on take-off, and there are two more valves per cylinder for more efficient engine operation.
2001 Nissan Pathfinder gauges
Sassy white-faced gauges are a Nissan hallmark lifted straight from the spicy Maxima.
Not too much separates the models from each other aside from convenience features such as seat adjustment systems, suede or cloth seat fabrics, fender flares, flash guards, and a luggage rack. Leather seats, side airbags, and power/heated seats are options only on the SE and LE.