|Midsize SUV; Built in Japan|
|Good condition price range: $1,800 – $4,700*|
1996 Nissan Pathfinder LE
1996 Nissan Pathfinder SE
1999 Nissan Pathfinder LE
1996 Nissan Pathfiner interior
1999 Nissan Pathfinder SE
Pathfinders are not cheap, but largely because of excellent road manners and truck-tough construction, they’re worth a look before buying an SUV in this class.
Fully redesigned for 1996, Nissan’s sport-utility vehicle went on sale after the model year began. This was the first major reworking of the Pathfinder since its debut a decade earlier. A new, longer-wheelbase unibody chassis replaced the old body-on-frame design. In addition to dual airbags and standard 4-wheel antilock brakes, the new Pathfinder got a bigger V6 engine. Overall length increased by 6.7 inches, wheelbase stretched 2 inches, and width grew by 2.2 inches. Despite the increased dimensions, weight actually dropped by about 200 pounds. The spare tire moved under the cargo area, but an outside-mounted tire carrier was optional. The 4-door wagon had a rear liftgate and a separate top-hinged glass back window. Three models were available: base XE, sport-oriented SE, and luxury LE. All three used a 3.3-liter V6 producing 168 horsepower. Peak torque increased from 180 to 196 pound-feet. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on XE and SE Pathfinders. Four-speed automatic was standard on the LE, optional on others. The SE had standard part-time 4-wheel drive (not for use on dry pavement), with shift-on-the-fly capability via a console-mounted lever at speeds up to 50 mph. XE and LE models had rear-drive standard, with 4WD an option.
Changes were minimal in the new Pathfinder’s second season. All four doors got new map pockets. Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division, introduced a plush QX4 sport utility, evolved from the Pathfinder.
Pathfinders were essentially unchanged for 1998.
Little change was evident as the model year began, but Pathfinders earned a facelift at midyear. Meanwhile, LE models now had body-colored fender flares, plus the same wheels, tires, and side steps used on the SE. In addition to freshened styling, the 1999 1/2 model got optional front side airbags, in a package with leather upholstery for SE and LE models.
Following its freshening in midseason of 1999, Pathfinders had a short 2000 model year. The Off-Road Package with outside spare tire was dropped. An revised Pathfinder debuted in spring 2000, as an early 2001 model.