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.
With all that taken into account, the 2011 Pathfinder is surprisingly deft on the road. Among true trucks, the Pathfinder's steering is sharp and precise, and while you won't want to push it hard around corners or examine its dynamic limits, it's quite confidence-inspiring.