Midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,000 – $8,800*

2001 Nissan Pathfinder

2001 Nissan Pathfinder

2001 Nissan Pathfinder interior

2002 Nissan Pathfinder

2002 Nissan Pathfinder

  • Acceleration
  • Build quality
  • Cargo room
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room

An antiquated 4WD system weighs against the Pathfinder, unless it’s the top-of-the-line LE with the QX4’s system. Neither of these SUVs has what it takes to be a compelling value. Available side-impact protection and antiskid security could be a plus in 2003 models.


Nissan’s updated premium sport-utility wagon began the 2001 model year in spring 2000, offered in base XE, sporty SE, and top-line LE versions, with additional standard features. This truck-based four-door wagon shared its design and V6 engine with the QX4 from Nissan’s upscale Infiniti division.

A new twincam 3.5-liter V6 replaced the single-cam 3.3-liter. Horsepower was 240 with automatic transmission, and 250 with manual shift. Prior Pathfinders had used a 170-horsepower engine. Torque ratings were now 265 and 240 pounds-feet, respectively, versus the previous 200.

Towing capacity was unchanged at 5000 pounds. Only the SE was available with a manual gearbox. The Pathfinder adopted several options that had previously been reserved for its upscale Infiniti sister, the QX4.

All models came with rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive. The latter had low-range gearing, intended for slick surfaces only. The LE’s 4WD system was now the QX4’s on-demand All-Mode setup, which was usable on dry pavement. It had 2WD, automatic 4WD, and locked-in 4WD High and Low settings. Antilock brakes were standard across the board. Front side airbags were available in the Leather option package for SE and LE models.

The 2001 Pathfinders also got a restyled dashboard and console, standard cruise control, and power windows/locks/mirrors for all models. SE and LE versions gained standard steering-wheel audio controls and memory power seats. Newly optional on SEs and LEs was the QX4’s satellite-linked navigation system, with dashboard touch-screen and audible route instructions. The LE and SE could also get a newly optional rear-seat entertainment system with video player, flip-down LCD screen, separate audio controls and game port.

Infiniti’s QX4 also got the bigger V6 and a revised dashboard this year, but had side airbags and the All-Mode 4WD system as standard. Pathfinder competitors included the Acura MDX, Ford Explorer, Lexus RX 300, and Toyota 4Runner and Highlander.

Yearly Updates

2002 Pathfinder
The more-expensive of Nissan’s two SUVs dropped the previous year’s base model, and added features to the remaining Pathfinders for 2002. Gone was the XE model, leaving SE and LE versions. The 4WD SE Pathfinder was available with manual shift; other models had automatic. New for 2002 were a restyled grille, body-color bumpers, and fender flares for the SE. Fresh wheels included 17-inch alloys in place of 16s on the LE. Interior trim revisions included a new steering wheel with available audio controls.
2003 Pathfinder
Front side airbags and curtain-style airbags became available this year- standard in the LE model and optional for the SE. An antiskid/traction-control system was newly available, as part of a Dynamic Control option. Nissan no longer offered a navigation system in the Pathfinder, but the LE gained standard heated front seats. Both models got LATCH child-seat anchors, a redesigned steering wheel and center dashboard, and an electronic tailgate release.
2004 Pathfinder
No major changes were made to the Pathfinder this year.


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

All Pathfinders used a 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V6 engine. When driving a four-speed automatic transmission, the V6 produced 240 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. With a five-speed manual gearbox, ratings changed to 250 horsepower and 240 pound-feet. Pathfinders could have rear-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 240-250
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 240-265
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

With four-wheel drive, all EPA ratings dropped by 1 mpg.

Road Test

Previously a performance also-ran, the Pathfinder is now more than competitive in its class. Test Pathfinders and QX4s have accelerated to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, which is good for midsize six-cylinder SUVs. Still, tapping full power requires a determined throttle foot, and the automatic transmission can be slow to downshift for passing.

Pathfinders and QX4s have averaged 14.2 to 16.5 mpg, depending on conditions. That’s about par for this class, but premium-grade gasoline is required. Both the Nissan and Infiniti ride firmly, though the QX4 is acceptably comfortable over bumps and ridges that feel jarring in a Pathfinder.

A taut suspension aids control, and keeps body lean in corners moderate. Steering feels properly weighted in turns, but suffers vague on-center feel at highway speeds, and the turning radius is larger than most rivals’. The QX4’s all-surface 4WD is welcome on the Pathfinder LE. An SE’s old-fashioned 4WD setup is far less convenient.

Wind and road noise are well-muffled. The V6 emits a throaty roar in hard acceleration, but cruises quietly.

The Pathfinder and QX4 share a functionally sound dashboard. The nicely integrated navigation system works well, once you master its programming. Cabin decor is classy in the QX4 and in leather-equipped Pathfinders, but quite ordinary otherwise.

Front space is ample and comfortable for adults. The driving position is good, and adequately adjustable, but thick roof pillars impede visibility.

Rear leg space is barely adequate for adults, if front seats are more than halfway back. The seat is low to the floor and deficient in back support. Step-in height is relatively high. Narrow door openings further complicate entry/exit.

Cargo volume is good, and the flip-up back glass is useful. The folding rear seat is overly complicated.


Model Tested: 2002 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4WD, automatic transmission

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.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 4

Total: 49


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 182.7 69.7 67.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
85.0 21.1 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.5 37.5 41.7 31.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Pathfinder 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

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


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmission may flare (seem to drop out of gear) between shifts requiring replacement of the transmission control module. (2001)
Engine noise
Description: A rumbling, bearinglike noise from the transfer case is corrected by replacing the companion flange with a redesigned component. (2001)
Suspension problems
Description: Stones tend to lodge in between the right rear shock absorber and its top mounting bracket requiring insertion of a piece of foam to keep stones out. (2001)

Recall History

1997-01 Pathfinder
Description: Recall affects vehicles originally sold in or currently registered in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. The fuel filler tube may rust due to an incomplete coating process. In areas where road salt is used, the rust may perforate the tube, causing fuel leakage, increasing risk of fire. Dealers will replace the fuel filler tube with a new one with an improved coating process.
2001 Pathfinder
Description: Some brackets used to attach the two gas struts to the rear hatch may have been improperly made, resulting in the struts detaching from the bracket(s) when opening or closing the rear door. Dealers will replace the strut brackets.
2001-2003 Pathfinder
Description: Passenger-side frontal airbag inflator may rupture upon deployment and spray metal fragments at the passenger.
2002 Pathfinder
Description: The air bag inflator contains propellant wafers that are required to properly deploy the front passenger air bag. Due to improper propellant wafer installation, some air bag inflators may be missing one of the wafers. As a result, the remaining wafers in the inflator used for the deployment of the front passenger air bag may, over time, break up into powder due to normal vibration experienced while driving. This causes the combustion rate of the propellant to increase inside the inflator, which can lead to internal pressure rising suddenly during air bag deployment. The inflator housing may rupture, causing an irregular deployment and some possibility of producing loose metal fragments, increasing a risk of injury to the front passenger. Dealers will replace the front passenger air bag module assembly with a new one free of charge.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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.

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