SUV performance is typically spoken of in terms of towing capacity and off-road capability, but on the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, you can add acceleration to that list. Unfortunately, the prodigious power in the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder makes for one thirsty engine.
The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder is available with two engine options. Kelley Blue Book reviewers list these options as a "powerful and torque-happy" 4.0-liter V-6 that produces 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque, while "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." Driving impressions in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that both engines provide high levels of performance. Car and Driver describes the engines as "terrific and beefy," and Edmunds characterizes the Nissan Pathfinder's performance as "vigorous even with the standard V6."
In order to transfer the engine power to the wheels, Edmunds finds that "both engines pair to a five-speed automatic transmission." The automatic also 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." In addition to the automatic transmission, Edmunds notes "all but the 4WD-only SE Off-Road offer a choice of rear- or four-wheel-drive." 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 2008 Nissan Pathfinder. In terms of towing capacity, Cars.com says that the V-8's "towing capacity is 7,000 pounds, compared with 6,000" for six-cylinder Pathfinders.
The EPA estimates fuel economy ranges from 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway on the V-6 with 2WD to 12/18 mpg for V-8-equipped 4WD Pathfinders. In between those two, the 4WD V-6 gets 14/20 mpg and the 2WD V-8 returns 13/18 mpg.
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.
As is the case with most truck-based SUVs, the Pathfinder's ride is firm and a bit choppy, and it handles well, but on rough pavement or tight, twisty roads, it's less settled than modern crossover designs. On the road, the Nissan 2008 Pathfinder has decent handling characteristics. Kelley Blue Book says that 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 notes that "bumps and expansion joints can cause some bounce," and overall the 2008 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't offer a particularly comfortable ride. On the plus side, they write that the brakes offer "smooth, progressive stopping control."