2010 Nissan Pathfinder Review

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
2018
The Car Connection
See the nominees and vote »
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 31, 2009

If you’re after serious off-roading ability, the Pathfinder is more than capable—otherwise, there are comfier options available.

To bring you the most comprehensive review covering the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, the experts at TheCarConnection.com have read through some of the Web's top review sources and highlighted some of the most useful advice. In addition, the editors of TheCarConnection.com bring you their defining take on the Pathfinder and its top rivals here in this Bottom Line summary.

In recent years, most mid-size utility vehicles have evolved to be more carlike, with car-based underpinnings that in some cases give up some off-road ability or toughness in the name of comfort, safety, handling, or fuel economy. But the Pathfinder sticks it out as a "real" truck, with body-on-frame construction for those who need traditional truck ruggedness, either for off-roading or heavy towing, but who don’t want to skimp too much on comfort.

V-6 and V-8 engines are available for the 2010 Pathfinder, and rear- or all-wheel drive can be had with either. The 2010 Pathfinder’s base S model only comes with the V-6, but the sportier SE and LE models are available with either the V-6 or V-8. The standard 266-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 provides adequate juice for most types of driving and gets significantly better fuel economy than the larger V-8, yet still offers a tow capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. Opting for the 310-horsepower V-8 ramps up the torque and allows the truck to pull up to 7,000 pounds. Fuel misers beware, though; with the V-8 and four-wheel drive, in city driving the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is rated a dismal 12 mpg.

For serious off-roaders willing to overlook this detail, the 2010 Pathfinder is a capable vehicle when it gets away from the tarmac. The tough Pathfinder features short overhangs and good ground clearance, and its four-wheel-drive system has an electronically controlled transfer case with a separate low range and auto mode that switches to four-wheel mode once slip occurs. The system is aided by electronics such as Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, which help maintain traction when off-roading. The only issue we found was that the Pathfinder's suspension doesn't have the wheel articulation needed for more precarious boulder-scrambling.

Review continues below

Storage-wise, the 2010 Pathfinder is able to swallow up a large amount of gear, both on top of and inside the car. On the outside, a 200-pound-capacity roof rack is standard on the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, including a handle to help when loading. The interior is configured to make the most of the Pathfinder's space, with a flat-fold passenger seat in front, a 40/20/40-split second row, and a 50/50-split third row. Both the second and third rows can fold down to the same level, enabling a long, flat cargo surface, and by stowing the front passenger seatback forward against the lower cushion, the Pathfinder can reach a cargo length of up to 10 feet. There is a large storage area hidden under the second-row seats and a handy small storage area inside the backdoor. The only real issue with the interior is that seating isn't as comfortable as it could be in the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, thanks to the skimpy front seats.

The Pathfinder's ride is firm and a bit choppy, as you might expect from a truck-based SUV. It handles well, but on rough pavement or tight, twisty roads, it's less settled compared to nearly all modern crossover vehicles. With the exception of a fair amount of engine noise that can be heard in the cabin of either version, the Pathfinder's interior is quite refined and quiet.

Virtually all sport-utility vehicles now come with an array of safety features aimed at protecting occupants and preventing accidents in the first place, and the 2010 Pathfinder is no exception. Electronic stability control is standard, and side impact and side curtain airbags are standard for 2010. The Nissan Pathfinder has been crash-tested by the federal government, receiving four-star ratings for frontal impact and top five-star ratings for side impact. The IIHS also awards the Pathfinder top "good" ratings for frontal and side impact, but "marginal" in rear impact protection.

Options for all models include a nav system with a 9.3GB Music Box entertainment system, Bluetooth compatibility, and Bose sound. Meanwhile, LE models can be optioned with Nissan’s Intelligent Key system and the above-mentioned DVD system. The SE Off-Road model is offered only with the V-6. It brings tougher stuff into the mix, such as skid plates, a tow hook, Bilstein shocks, a stronger alternator, and upgraded equipment inside. The LE model is worth checking out if you want a more luxurious driving experience; it offers an optional DVD entertainment system that is not available on any other models, plus leather, a heated steering wheel, and wood trim.

7

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

Styling

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is pleasantly styled, inside and out, but somewhat plain. However, that should keep the Pathfinder looking less out of style a few years from now.

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder offers rugged styling that's certainly not groundbreaking in any way, but most shoppers will find the look reasonably handsome inside and out.

Even though the Pathfinder hasn't seen a complete redesign in many years, its exterior is quite timeless and straightforward. Kelley Blue Book says that the Nissan Pathfinder boasts a "rugged, purposeful exterior befitting the vehicle's lineage and ability," and mentions that the "front end mimics other Nissan models such as the Armada and Frontier, tying in a familial theme." Edmunds says there aren't a lot of appearance differences between the S, SE, SE Off-Road, and LE trims except from a few functional details that might shine through, such as the "exclusive off-road shocks and tires" and "skid plates" on the SE Off-Road. Edmunds also notes that "its body is far larger than past models."

Cars.com focuses on one design detail: the rear door handles. It's disappointed to find that the handles are "mounted vertically and higher than the front door handles—hasn't changed," as those handles are placed such that "kids can't reach them."

The interior of the 2010 Pathfinder is certainly not overly stylish, but again, functionality rules. Cars.com says it "isn't the prettiest around," while ConsumerGuide praises the Nissan Pathfinder for its "well-placed gauges with user-friendly controls."

7

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

Performance

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is a vehicle of compromise, with powerful, torquey engines that are great for off-roading and towing but bring terrible for fuel economy.

V-6 and V-8 engines are available for the 2010 Pathfinder, and rear- or all-wheel drive can be had with either. The 2010 Pathfinder’s base S model only comes with the V-6, but the sportier SE and LE models are available with either the V-6 or V-8.

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is available with two engine options. Kelley Blue Book reviewers list these as a "powerful and torque-happy" 4.0-liter V-6 that produces 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque, and "for those who need extra horsepower and towing capacity, the optional 5.6-liter V-8 is the obvious answer, adding an additional 100 foot-pounds of torque and 44 more horsepower." Edmunds characterizes the Nissan Pathfinder's performance as "vigorous even with the standard V6." Car and Driver describes the engines as "terrific and beefy." The standard 266-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 provides adequate power for most types of driving and gets significantly better fuel economy than the larger V-8, yet still offers a tow capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. Opting for the 310-horsepower V-8 ramps up the torque and allows the truck to pull up to 7,000 pounds.

In order to transfer the engine power to the wheels, Edmunds finds that "both engines pair to a five-speed automatic transmission." The automatic generally fares well with reviewers, although ConsumerGuide claims "passing maneuvers require a brief moment for the transmission to downshift, but power is ample thereafter."
Kelley Blue Book adds that, during their tests, the Nissan Pathfinder "shifted smoothly."

Fuel misers beware: With the V-8 and four-wheel drive, in city driving the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is rated a dismal 12 mpg. EPA fuel economy estimates range from 15 mpg city, 22 highway on the V-6 with RWD to 12/18 mpg for V-8-equipped 4WD Pathfinders. In between those two, the 4WD V-6 gets 14/20 mpg and the RWD V-8 returns 13/18 mpg.

Cars.com notes that the V-8's "towing capacity is 7,000 pounds, compared with 6,000" for six-cylinder Pathfinders. Edmunds reviewers appreciate that "Nissan built in up to 9.1 inches of ground clearance," a practical trait that improves the off-roading credentials of the 2009 Nissan Pathfinder.

Thanks to short overhangs, good ground clearance, and tough body-on-frame construction, the Pathfinder does well off-road. And its four-wheel-drive system has an electronically controlled transfer case with a separate low range and Auto mode that switches to four-wheel mode once slip occurs. The system is aided by electronics such as Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, which help maintain traction in tricky situations. The one letdown is that the Pathfinder's suspension doesn't have the wheel articulation needed for more precarious boulder-scrambling, but for the most part, it will be up to the job.

With all that taken into account, the 2010 Pathfinder has decent handling on the road, although it's far from perfect. Kelley Blue Book says its Pathfinders "turned confidently," while Edmunds praises the "surprisingly sharp" steering response. However, many reviewers find fault with some of the Pathfinder's handling qualities, as ConsumerGuide notices the "noseplow and body lean typical of truck-type SUVs."

ConsumerGuide also reports that the brakes provide "smooth, progressive stopping control."

7

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

Comfort & Quality

Passengers and cargo will find ample room in the 2010 Pathfinder, though the cabin won't provide enough refinement for everyone.

The interior of the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is configured to make the most of the Pathfinder's space, with a flat-fold passenger seat in front, a 40/20/40-split second row, and a 50/50-split third row. Both the second and third rows can fold down to the same level, enabling a long, flat cargo surface, and by stowing the front passenger seatback forward against the lower cushion, the Pathfinder can reach a cargo length of up to 10 feet. The only real issue with the interior is that seating isn't as comfortable as it could be in the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, thanks to the skimpy front seats. ConsumerGuide notes there is "ample legroom and headroom for most occupants" up front, but "step-in is lofty." In the middle seats, ConsumerGuide says to expect "good 2nd-row headroom, even beneath the sunroof housing, but legroom is tight for tall riders." Edmunds also finds that "the front seats are very comfortable" on the upper trim levels, but on all Nissan Pathfinders, "the rear falls short on room for both feet and shoulders." Furthermore, Edmunds observes that "only kids will fit in the third row, and younger ones might have trouble entering the cabin to begin with"—again because of the high step-in.

Storage-wise, the 2010 Pathfinder is able to swallow up a large amount of gear, both on top of and inside the car. On the outside, a 200-pound-capacity roof rack is standard on the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, including a handle to help when loading. There is a large storage area hidden away under the second-row seats and a handy small storage area inside the backdoor. In the rear, many reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, including the one at Kelley Blue Book, mention that "the Pathfinder's third-row folds completely into the floor, and center and third-row seats fold flat without requiring removal of the head restraints." A 200-pound-capacity roof rack is standard on the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder, including a handle to help with loading. With both seats folded, the Pathfinder offers "a 79-cubic-foot cargo hold—about average for the class," says Edmunds. Cars.com finds that cabin storage consists of "two glove boxes, one above the other beneath the passenger side frontal airbag module," along with "the obligatory bottle and cup holders" that appear "in sufficient quantity."

While the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is reasonably comfortable to sit in, the interior comes across as cheap and more purposeful than luxurious. Like other larger Nissan vehicles of late, some materials and assembly quality issues seem to be present in the 2010 Pathfinder. ConsumerGuide thinks that the "mostly hard plastic" found throughout much of the cabin "imparts a low-budget ambiance," but the range-topping "LE's wood-tone trim lends a classier look."

The Pathfinder's ride is firm and a bit choppy, as you might expect from a truck-based SUV. It handles well, but on rough pavement or tight, twisty roads, it's less settled compared to nearly all modern crossover vehicles. With the exception of a fair amount of engine noise that can be heard in the cabin of either version, the Pathfinder's interior is quite refined and quiet.

When it comes to a quiet ride, the Nissan Pathfinder is probably not the first place you should look, especially in SE Off-Road trim. ConsumerGuide testers find that while the Nissan Pathfinder is "quiet for a truck in gentle cruising," the "wind rush rises markedly with speed." They also say that the V-6 sounds "coarse and strained at full throttle," and the "SE Off-Road's all-terrain tires are quite noisy, much more so than the regular treads."

As is the case with most truck-based SUVs, the Pathfinder's ride is firm and a bit choppy, and on rough pavement or tight, twisty roads, it's less settled than modern crossover designs. ConsumerGuide also notes that "bumps and expansion joints can cause some bounce," and overall the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't offer a particularly comfortable ride.

8

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

Safety

Strong crash-test results and lots of standard safety features give the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder great safety credentials.

Virtually all sport-utility vehicles now come with an array of safety features aimed at protecting occupants and preventing accidents in the first place, and the 2010 Pathfinder is no exception. Electronic stability control is standard, and side impact and side curtain airbags are standard for 2010.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the Nissan Pathfinder a "good" rating, the Institute's highest, for frontal offset impacts. They also bestow upon the Nissan Pathfinder a "good" rating for side impact protection, thanks to the standard side-impact airbags. However, the Pathfinder gets a "marginal" rating for rear-impact protection.

The federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards the Nissan Pathfinder four out of a possible five stars for front impact protection and a full five stars for side impact protection. Less appealing is the Nissan Pathfinder's three-star rollover rating, but a weak rollover score is not uncommon among SUVs.

In addition to generally good crash-test ratings, the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder comes equipped with a generous list of safety features. Edmunds reviewers report that every “Nissan Pathfinder comes with antilock brakes and stability control,” as well as side-impact airbags. Kelley Blue Book adds that a "tire pressure monitoring system" is standard on all Pathfinders, along with "hill descent control and hill start assist" on the SE Off-Road model. In reference to those SE Off-Road features, The Auto Channel says the "enhanced technology in itself" makes for "a safe off-road system."

When it comes to visibility, ConsumerGuide notes it's "impeded by [the] thick roof pillars, rear windshield wiper, and rear stop lamp." Edmunds says the backup camera that comes standard on all but the base S trims will mitigate that somewhat.

9

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

Features

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder has plenty of features—especially if you're willing to tack on an expensive options package.

Compared to most other truck-based SUV models, the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder has a much better feature set than most other truck-based SUV models; tech-savvy shoppers will be happy with what's inside, and Nissan doesn't skip a beat by increasing the available equipment for 2010.

ConsumerGuide finds that the base Nissan Pathfinder S comes with a "tilt steering wheel, cruise control...height-adjustable driver seat w/lumbar adjustment," and "2nd- and 3rd-row split folding seats," along with full power accessories. Moving up to the SE trim on the Nissan 2010 Pathfinder, Edmunds says to expect "a roof rack, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, a 7-inch screen with multi-information display, a back-up camera, dual-zone climate control and a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary input jack." For those who plan on getting dirty in their Nissan Pathfinder, the SE Off-Road trim boasts "exclusive off-road shocks and tires, skid plates, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist, plus a moonroof and Bose stereo," according to Edmunds. At the top of the Nissan Pathfinder lineup, the LE fitted with a V-6 engine now gets a moonroof as standard, while the V-8-equipped LE picks up Nissan’s navigational system as standard for 2010. Edmunds reports that both LE models also add "leather, wood trim and power seats."

Even with a long standard features list on all but the most basic models, the designers at Nissan decided that 2010 Nissan Pathfinder owners should be able to add more to their SUVs. The Auto Channel reports that "Nissan has a no-frills approach to the most basic trims, meaning you don't get much of an interior if you don't buy some of their offered packages." ConsumerGuide lists some of the most noteworthy options bundles as a Premium Package on the SE trim that includes a "power sunroof, Bose sound system," and "universal garage door opener." The 2010 Pathfinder SE is also available with a Premium Journey Package that adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a rearview monitor, roof rack crossbars, 10-speaker Bose audio system, XM Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth. New for 2010 is also a Value Package for the range-topping V-8; ticking this box will net you a DVD player and screen and a moonroof.

Options for all models include a nav system with a 9.3GB Music Box entertainment system, Bluetooth compatibility, and Bose sound. Meanwhile, LE models can be optioned with Nissan’s Intelligent Key system and the above-mentioned DVD system. The SE Off-Road model is offered only with the V-6. It brings tougher stuff into the mix, such as skid plates, a tow hook, Bilstein shocks, a stronger alternator, and upgraded equipment inside. The LE model is worth checking out if you want a more luxurious driving experience; it offers an optional DVD entertainment system that is not available on any other models, plus leather, a heated steering wheel, and wood trim.

ConsumerGuide approves of the fact that while "the available navigation system takes time to learn," it "doesn't absorb audio or climate functions—a plus."

Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

1 Review
5 star
4 star
100%
3 star
2 star
1 star
Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
April 28, 2015
2010 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door V6 S

Just a great car

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
This is the 3rd Pathfinder I have had and this one is the best on and off road
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
USED PRICE RANGE
$6,700 - $18,998
Browse Used Listings
in your area
7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 7.0
Safety 8.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
Compare the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Nissan Pathfinder?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used