2011 Nissan Pathfinder Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder is a workhorse SUV that also offers decent comfort and an impressive feature set.

While most mid-size sport-utility vehicles have, over the past few years, become softer and car-based, the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder continues to buck that trend. Among rugged poseurs, 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.

There's nothing groundbreaking about the design of the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder, but most shoppers will find the look reasonably handsome inside and out. Even though the Pathfinder hasn't seen a completely redesign for many years, the exterior is timeless and straightforward. The single most distinctive design detail on the Pathfinder is its rear door handles. And while they might give the Pathfinder the look of a two-door—and be a somewhat reto nod to previous versions of this ute—they're awkwardly out of kids' reach and harder to use with hands full.

The standard 266-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 provides adequate juice for most types of driving; it's quick off the line and only feels somewhat winded at high speed with a full load. It also 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.

If you're willing to overlook its rabid thirst for gasoline (official city ratings come as low as 13 mpg), the Pathfinder is a good choice for those who do need to tow frequently, or take on rutted back trails on the way to remote work sites. 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 only issue our editors have found is that the Pathfinder's suspension doesn't have the wheel articulation needed for more precarious boulder-scrambling—which means your head will be tossed from side to side over tough terrain.

Body-on-frame SUVs are typically not quite as good for passenger space as more modern car-based crossovers or minivans; but overall, the 2011 Pathfinder is quite passenger-friendly. There's a flat-fold passenger seat in front, a 40/20/40-split second row, and a 50/50-split third row. The only real issue with the interior is that the seats themselves just aren't as comfortable as they could or should be—they're quite short in front, and skimpy padding all around means the Pathfinder isn't such a great long-distance choice. Also, the tall step up to get into the Pathfinder might be challenging for kids, pets, or grandparents. Speaking of kids, the third row is for kids only; it's just too tight, and hard to get into. The 2011 Nissan Pathfinder is able to swallow up a large amount of gear, both on top of and inside the car, thanks to a flat cargo floor, easy-folding seats, and a 200-pound capacity roof rack.

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. And while the interior is quite hushed from wind and road noise, you hear the engine far too much—even under light acceleration.

New this year is the Pathfinder SV, which replaces the Pathfinder SE and slots just above the base Pathfinder S. The Pathfinder S comes with an ample but unremarkable list of features, but the new SV adds a lot, including a multi-function display, power driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals, upgraded seat fabric, illuminated steering-wheel audio controls, rear climate control, fog lamps, running boards, a garage-door opener, and a rear-view monitor. On uplevel models, the Pathfinder gets flashier wheels, heated seats, Bluetooth hands-free, Intelligent Key, XM Satellite Radio, and upgraded Bose audio with ten speakers—and even a heated steering wheel, leather seats, and wood trim on the top LE.

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September 11, 2016
2016 Nissan Pathfinder 2WD 4-Door SV

Worst car I've ever owned

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So I got the 2016 Pathfinder back in April because my car was toltaled in an accident and wanted something a little bigger. Haven't had the Pathfinder 5 months yet and i get the tire pressure warning. Ok, i... + More »
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May 28, 2016
2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door SL

Great family hauler with good power to tow.

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Comfortable family hauler that can tow 5000 pounds. Good acceleration but could use improvement in the handling department. Great around camera system. Excellent 3rd row seat even for adults.
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March 19, 2016
2015 Nissan Pathfinder 2WD 4-Door SL

ST L Pathfinder 2015 is Excellent car

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ST L Pathfinder 2015 is Excellent car. I had Toyota Kluger (Altitude) but sold for some reason. Then i purchase Nissan pathfinder ST-L 2015 in February 2016. When i compare Kluger 2013 with Pathfinder 2015, I... + More »
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December 27, 2015
2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door SL

A pleasure to drive with smooth cvt and great mileage

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We compared the others in this class and picked the Pathfinder. It comes with the things we need. 5000 lb hitch and wiring from the factory. Remote start, heated front and rear seats and hill descent button... + More »
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July 28, 2015
For 2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Do your homework before you purchase this suv

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My husband and I were very happy with our brand new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder when we first bought it, but right before its first oil change we noticed that it started to shutter at a low speed. We brought it to... + More »
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July 24, 2015
2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door SV

Awesome Car

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Awesome car for the family get a ways. Very comfortable to drive and safety features are awesome.
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April 28, 2015
2015 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door Platinum

Great 4WD 3 Row Seat Vehicle

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This is one awesome SUV! I like everything about it but the gas mileage! It is very comfortable to drive, performance is great, plenty of room, and the features of all around cameras are great. I would buy... + More »
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December 3, 2015
2014 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door SV

Best of the bunch...for us

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To be honest, I don't think there's a truly bad vehicle in the affordable mid-size SUV market right now. They all have some pros and cons, so it's really a case of sitting in as many as possible until you find... + More »
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October 31, 2015
2014 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door Platinum

Very good fuel economy for the size.

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Very good s.u.v to own . Stable with 6-7 adults. I love the winter since we bought it.
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October 28, 2015
2014 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD 4-Door SL

I got a lemon.

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I owned a 2005 Pathfinder and was really happy with it So I purchased a 2014 Pathfinder in April of 2014. First thing I noticed was the transmission was not as good as the older model. The AWD won't work when... + More »
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