The Nissan Pathfinder rates as a pretty safe vehicle overall, and for 2009, all the expected safety features finally come standard.
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 2009 Nissan Pathfinder a "good" rating for side impact protection, provided it is equipped with side-impact airbags. However, if the Nissan 2009 Pathfinder does not have those optional airbags, the IIHS rating drops to "marginal," due to what the IIHS describes as "inadequate" head protection.
After subjecting the Nissan 2009 Pathfinder to its full battery of crash tests, 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 2009 Nissan Pathfinder also comes equipped with a generous list of safety features. 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." Edmunds reviewers report that "every 2009 Nissan Pathfinder comes with antilock brakes and stability control." Side and side curtain airbags are newly standard for 2009.
ConsumerGuide claims that visibility over the shoulder is "impeded by thick roof pillars, rear windshield wiper, and rear stop lamp." In parking lots and other tight spaces, the poor visibility is mitigated somewhat by the backup camera that comes standard on all but the base S trims, according to Edmunds.