Nissan's mid-size, truck-based Pathfinder is a comfortable, luxurious SUV for those who need traditional truck ruggedness for heavy towing or moderately strenuous off-roading. Newly available on the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder is a 310-horsepower, 388-pound-feet version of the 5.6-liter V-8 used in the larger Titan and Armada trucks. This first V-8 ever offered in the Pathfinder helps it tow up to 7,000 pounds, and it offers 100 more pound-feet of torque than the 4.0-liter V-6 edition.
The standard 266-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 provides adequate power for most types of driving and gets significantly better fuel economy, yet still offers a tow capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. Both engines are available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. With the V-8 and four-wheel drive, the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder is rated a dismal 12 mpg for city driving.
The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder has the toughness, along with short overhangs and good ground clearance, for off-roading, 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 one letdown is that the Pathfinder's suspension doesn't have the wheel articulation needed for more precarious boulder-scrambling.
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 folding 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 away under the second-row seats and a handy small storage area inside the back door. A 200-pound-capacity roof rack is standard on the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, including a handle to help in step-up and loading.