1999 Nissan Pathfinder Review

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Bob Storck Bob Storck Editor
March 8, 1999

I’ve always liked Nissan’s compact Pathfinder sport-ute, even better than most of the better-selling competition. When it was introduced, I was immediately taken with the smooth and powerful engine and stable suspension. It even looks sturdy — while many sport-utes look tall and tipsy, the Pathfinder’s low, wide profile and generous track make it look solid.

Nissan found out the Pathfinder’s virtues only after it launched the truck in the late 1980s. The original Pathfinder was a three-door SUV vehicle built atop the chassis of Nissan's pickup truck. One of the first concepts from the company's design facility in La Jolla, California, to make it to market, the first Pathfinder was a hit.

Despite early sales success for the three-door Pathfinder,

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1999 Nissan Pathfinder Interior

1999 Nissan Pathfinder Interior

The five-door Pathfinder can hold five passengers and plenty of gear.
American drivers quickly learned to prefer five-door 4x4s. Nissan saw the opportunity, and stretched the SUV into a five-door — the very heart of today’s SUV market. It widened its generous track by 3 inches, and stretched its wheelbase by 2 inches. The automaker also switched to unibody construction, for more passenger car-style rigidity.

Today the Pathfinder is nearing another refreshing at midyear, but it’s still a handsome and desirable SUV. With a 3.3-liter V-6 featuring single cams and sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection, it offers a less than overwhelming 168 hp. We think it's better with the slick five-speed manual shifter since the six is simply overtaxed by the four-speed automatic. Even so, Pathfinder offers a 5,000-pound tow limit when the automatic is ordered.

Pathfinder's optional four-wheel-drive system employs a sophisticated transfer case that allows a driver to switch from rear-drive to four-wheel drive at highway speeds. The suspension uses heavy-duty struts in front and a five-link rigid rear axle, with stabilizer bars mounted fore and aft, to damp out ride motions. It also has anti-lock control for the front disc and rear drum brakes.

Styling from Nissan’s California studio sells most Pathfinders. It’s a handsome truck, with strong contours on its side panels and a canted C-pillar that conceals rear door handles.

Inside, the Pathfinder is flexible and comfortable. Twin form-fitting front bucket seats and a rear bench for three (with a 60-40 split) makes the rear cargo area more useful. The standard equipment list is fairly long, too. It includes power features, a cloth interior, storage bins, DC-power electrical outlets, four cup holders and 160-watt audio system with six speakers and CD deck. And you can move up to a luxurious LE or a sport-trimmed SE model, the latter with an optional off-road package.

best thing about Pathfinder is the price. While it can be expensive — prices range from a little over $20,000 to about $35,000 — you can pay much more for an Olds Bravada, Ford Explorer Limited, Jeep Grand Cherokee, or Isuzu Trooper. Or even on the Pathfinder’s soul mate and platform twin, the Infiniti QX4.

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