The Nissan Pathfinder is a mid-size crossover SUV that has been in production since 1985. It started as a compact SUV before being built as a mid-size SUV from 1995 to 2012. Today, it’s part of the larger lineup of Nissan vehicles and is slotted above the Murano in terms of size.
Over the years, it has established itself as a relatively reliable SUV with a decent engine and comfortable interior. However, it isn’t without faults. Nissan vehicles did experience a wave of faulty transmission problems in the mid 2000s (from 2005 to 2008). These concerns were enough to leave some customers feeling uneasy about their decision to purchase the Pathfinder.
Nissan fans still praise the value for money that Pathfinders deliver considering the engine choices which were quite powerful for the class.With the right model year choice and some luck spotting a decent used unit, a pre-owned Pathfinder can be quite the buy.
Let’s go over the best years for Nissan Pathfinder.
2001 to 2004 Model Years Nissan Pathfinder (2nd Generation)
The 2001-2004 model years of the Nissan Pathfinder are often considered as some of its most dependable models. This is mainly because it has a modern look and sporty features that help it stand out from other vehicles in its class.
This Pathfinder generation was available in multiple variations, all boasting unique specs. Take the SE 4×4 model, for example; it included a 3.5L V6 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, and 5-passenger seating arrangement—plus an impressive 240 hp and 282 lb-ft of torque!
The Nissan Pathfinder LE 4×2 was an all-wheel drive vehicle, outfitted with a 3.5L V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission with the capacity to seat seven passengers at once while producing 245 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque.
Boasting a 3.3L V6 engine with 152 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, the XE 4×2 is designed for maximum performance. It also has an efficient 5-speed manual transmission, as well as a comfortable 6-passenger configuration that provides plenty of room for you and your family to enjoy the ride.
You can anticipate finding a good quality model anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 based on its condition and features.
2009 to 2012 Model Years Nissan Pathfinder (3rd Generation)
For the 2009-2012 model years, the Nissan Pathfinder underwent its first major redesign since 2005, and it became something special. Not only is this generation reliable, with far fewer complaints from consumers than the previous generation, but its design stands out for the right reasons.
Nissan Pathfinder offered five trims from 2009-2012: S, SV, LE, SE Off-Road, and LE V8. The features of each trim varied depending on the engine option chosen. The S and SV models were installed with a 4L V6 motor generating 266 hp along with 288 lb-ft torque. Either a 5- or 6-speed automatic transmission can be paired with the engine.
The LE model boasted an upgraded 4.5L V8 engine that could generate 310 hp and 388 lb-ft of torque, along with a selectable 5-speed CVT transmission for maximum performance.
For increased off-road capability, the SE Off-Road variant came equipped with the same reliable 4L V6 as the S and SV models but included additional advanced all-wheel-drive system technology.
The LE V8 was fitted with a 5.6L V8 engine which generated 317 hp and 385 lb-ft of torque connected to a reliable 5-speed automatic transmission system. Furthermore, these third-generation Pathfinder years are outfitted with lots of luxurious features.
On the used market, prices range from $6,000 to $12,000, depending on its trim level and overall condition.
2016 Model Year Nissan Pathfinder (4th Generation)
The fourth-generation Pathfinder from 2016 can be considered a standout among all the other Nissan Pathfinders. It is one of the most reliable models, thanks to its improved transmission system, and also boasts an attractive design and plenty of safety features.
First off, reliability. The previous Nissan Pathfinder years (2015 in particular) suffered from jerky transmission issues. Thankfully, the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder transmission didn’t suffer as much. This was largely due to improvements made by Nissan engineers on the car’s mechanics and electronics. They even made it better adapted to rough terrain.
On top of that, the design was quite attractive and featured a lot of modern styling elements. It had a sleek look that made it stand out from the other models in its class. The interior also featured soft-touch materials and plenty of storage options to make it feel more luxurious.
As far as features go, this model was packed with all sorts of goodies, such as an 8-inch infotainment system, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility, advanced driver assistance systems, and much more.
The available trims/variants included S, SV, SL, and Platinum. Under the hood, you could choose between the 3.5-liter V6 engine that churned out 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque or the 4.0-liter V6 with 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque.
The market price used for a 2016 fourth-generation Pathfinder usually ranges from around $10,000 to $22,000, depending on trim level and condition.
2017 Model Year Nissan Pathfinder (4th Generation)
Next up is the following year’s entry from Nissan, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder. This model year improved upon the previous iteration.
To start off with, its design got a facelift which makes it look even more modern and stylish. And in terms of features, the new V6 engine with a CVT transmission provides excellent power.
The available trims/variants are all well-equipped with powerful specs such as engine options (including 3.5L V6), transmission options (CVT), configuration (2WD or 4WD), horsepower figures up to 284 hp and torque figures up to 259 lb-ft.
And to top it all off, the used market price for the 2017 Model Year Nissan Pathfinder is around $12,000 to $25,000.
2021 to Present Model Years Nissan Pathfinder (5th Generation)
Now onto the current model year of Nissan Pathfinder, 2021 to present. This is arguably the best version yet in terms of reliability and usability. Not only are there relatively few complaints and issues reported, but it’s also designed with a modern look that features an aerodynamic shape as well as new tech and safety features.
In terms of specs, the fifth-generation Nissan Pathfinder started offering a new 9-speed auto transmission along with a terrain management system which can be very helpful off-road. There’s also an available V6 engine option with 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque to power your adventures.
Finally, used market prices for this model range from around $26,000 to $36,000, depending on the trim/variant you choose.
Watch Out for Common Nissan Pathfinder Problems
Despite the great features and specs of the Nissan Pathfinder, there are still certain common problems you should be aware of when shopping for a used model. So before buying a used Pathfinder, make sure to look out for any signs of transmission issues (leaking transmission fluid, rough shifting), fuel pump issues, and interior electrical faults.
The Pathfinder years to avoid include 2005 to 2007 and 2013. In addition, the 1999 second-generation Nissan Pathfinder is notable for having severe rust problems.
These considered, used Nissan Pathfinders should very much be in the list of anyone who’s looking into purchasing or leasing a compact SUV. You’d still be getting enough bang per buck for the best model years. Just stick to the Nissan Pathfinder years on this list.