Midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,500*


1992 Nissan Pathfinder SE


1993 Nissan Pathfinder


1994 Nissan Pathfinder LE V-6


1995 Nissan Pathfinder LE V-6 4×4


1994 Nissan Pathfinder LE V-6 dashboard

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Wet-weather traction (4WD)
  • Passenger and cargo room
Cons:
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy

To its credit, the Pathfinder provides precise steering and ample cargo room. It’s also rugged and as durable as a Swiss Army knife. Unfortunately, the compact sport-utility market has stampeded forward toward more carlike vehicles, effectively leaving the Pathfinder in the dust.

Overview

By the time Pathfinder arrived in 1987, it was faced with a group of rivals that included the Jeep Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner, Chevy S-10 Blazer, and Ford Bronco II. Original Pathfinders, available in base XE and uplevel SE trim levels, came with a 153-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. A 5-speed manual gearbox was standard across the board, with a 4-speed automatic optional. Initially available in just a 2-door body style, a 4-door body was added for 1990, with both 2WD and part-time 4WD.

Yearly Updates

1991 Pathfinder
In 1991, the 4-door Pathfinder becomes the only body style. Among other changes, the optional antilock brakes become standard equipment and leather seats are a new option.
1992 Pathfinder
A new exterior color–Safari Green–is the only change for the 1992 Pathfinder.
1993 Pathfinder
Changes for 1993 include mildly modified bumpers and reshaped fenders for this 6-year-old sport utility. Also, new inner door beams provide more side-impact protection and CFC-free air conditioning refrigerant replaces ozone-depleting R-12.
1994 Pathfinder
Hoping to attract more luxury sport-utility buyers, the 1994 Pathfinder adds a new luxuriously equipped LE flagship model. Standard equipment on the LE includes automatic transmission, leather upholstery, heated front seats, luggage rack, semiautomatic air conditioning, a CD player, running boards, privacy glass, rear disc brakes, styled alloy wheels, and other features that are either optional or not available on XE or SE models. In addition, a new instrument panel replaces the former unit with its upright, angular design. This new unit has more ergonomic, flowing design with controls that are larger and easier to use.
1995 Pathfinder
The big news for 1995 is the addition of a 2WD version of the LE luxury model added to the model lineup last year.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

The only engine available in the 1989 Pathfinder was a V6 that provided 140 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 166 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. Switching to multipoint fuel injection in 1990 helped boost both horsepower and torque. Revising the fuel delivery resulted in new ratings of 153 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 180 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 153
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 180
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
15/18
15/18
14.7

Road Test

Early Nissan Pathfinder models seemed to ride smoothly, with less of the rough bounce customary on some of the new truck-based compact sport-utility vehicles. Adequate power finally arrived in 1990 when the 3.0-liter engine switched to multipoint fuel injection, giving the Pathfinder 180 horsepower, but low-end torque still is not sufficient to help the Pathfinder keep pace with the Explorer or Cherokee when called upon to climb hills or haul heavy loads.

Given that the Pathfinder was not significantly changed after 1990, the newer Ford Explorer and Jeep Cherokee have provided more popular carlike features and handling, making Nissan’s older design feel dated, too stiff, and unsophisticated. Gas mileage is dismal as well. In our test we only achieved 14.7 mpg with the automatic. The Pathfinder’s 4WD system is another drawback. Since it lacks full shift-on-the-fly capability, it’s far less convenient than most competitive part-time systems used by an ever-growing number of rivals.

The handling is safe and predictable, but ranks far below the head of the class. Also, narrow rear doors that combine with a high step-up made entering and exiting a bit of a chore.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1991 Nissan Pathfinder SE

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 41

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.3 171.9 66.5 65.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
31.9 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 36.8 42.6 33.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Pathfinder 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 1
20%
Front Passenger Injury - 3
60%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 141
Injury 98
Theft 338

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: Rattling or rumbling from the blower may be caused by leaves and other debris that are not stopped by the fresh-air grille. (1993-95)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission does not shift properly until warmed up, make sure it is filled only with Nissanmatic “C” transmission fluid. (1990-95)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant may leak from the front of the cylinder head, which may appear to be a head gasket, but comes from a threaded plug in the front of the head. (1990-95)
Coolant leak
Description: Coolant leaks in cylinder heads could be coming from blind plugs. The plugs can be resealed without head removal. (1990-95)
Hard starting
Description: If the engine is hard to start at high altitudes, it is flooding from too much fuel and a revised water-temperature sensor will cure the problem. (1990-95)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leaks from the manual transmission are likely coming from the breather vent. (1990-93)
Oil leak
Description: There is a revised pinion seal to correct oil leaks at both front and rear differentials on 2WD and 4WD models. (1992)
Poor drivability
Description: A check-engine light accompanied by poor drivability could be caused by water in the wiring connector for the oxygen sensor. (1995)

Recall History

1990-91
Description: Front-seatbelt release button can break and pieces can fall inside.
1994
Description: Latch plate in seatbelt buckle could engage only partially, causing tongue to come out of buckle during collision or hard braking.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.