2011 Nissan Pathfinder – 25th Anniversary

The Nissan Pathfinder has been around for twenty-five years. This is an impressive feat. The model dates back to a time in the mid to late 80s where if you wanted a compact SUV, you basically had four choices: the Ford Bronco II, Chevy S-10 Blazer, Toyota 4Runner or the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder has changed a lot over the years, evolving from a compact 2-door SUV in 1986 to a 4-door, three-row with room for seven passengers and a V-8 option in 2011. But one thing that hasn’t changed despite the huge shift in the industry is that the Pathfinder remains a truck-based SUV.

The 2011 Pathfinder is built on Nissan’s F-Alpha platform, which it shares with the Titan and Frontier pickup models and Xterra and Armada SUV models. The truck’s platform does show up on the scales where the Pathfinder weights in at 4,800 pounds. This compares to the Ford Explorer, which weighs in at 4,500 pounds. For the 2011 model year, the Explorer became a crossover SUV ditching its truck platform.

The 2011 Pathfinder comes in nine trim lines. As 2011 is the model’s 25th anniversary, Nissan is offering the “Silver Edition” trim line, special for this year. The Pathfinder comes standard with a 4.0-liter 266 horsepower V-6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. The entry level Pathfinder S 4X2 gets EPA rated fuel economy of 15-mpg city and 22-mpg highway compared to 14/20 for the S 4X4. A

The optional V-8 engine, which is offered in the LE trim, has a 5.6-liter 310 horsepower V-6 engine. Its fuel economy is rated at 13/18. This is the same engine found in the full-size Nissan Armada SUV. Hopefully, Nissan will soon offer buyers the 5.6-liter V-8 found in the Infiniti QX56, which produces 400 horsepower.

The V-6 Pathfinder is rated to tow 6,000 pounds when properly equipped, which is more than some competitors such as the Ford Explorer (5,000 pounds), Toyota Highlander (5,000 pounds), and Chevrolet Traverse (5,200 pounds). However, its towing capacity is less than the Dodge Durango (pounds) and Jeep Grand Cherokee (7,400 pounds). To reach the 7,000 pound towing capacity, Pathfinder buyers will have to step up to the LE V-8 trim.

With its truck frame, the Pathfinder offers off-road capability but on road, its high center of gravity can work to its disadvantage. Truck based SUVs tend to have worse handling and ride comfort than their crossover counterparts.

The 2011 Pathfinder offers 79.2 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats folded down. This is very comparable to the Ford Explorer but noticeably less space than nearly all its other competitors. The Pathfinder offers three rows of seats across all trim lines. However, the third row really only comfortably seats preteens.

This generation of the Pathfinder has been around since 2005. The 2011 model has a starting MSRP of $28,570, which puts it at a price point in between the Xterra and Murano in Nissan’s SUV lineup. The top trim line Pathfinder LE V8 4X4 has an MSRP of $43,250. It comes standard with leather seats, power seats, and sunroof but navigation is optional.

The Pathfinder’s primary competitor is the Toyota 4Runner. The model is assembled in Canton, Mississippi. If you include the Juke sport crossover, the Pathfinder is one of six SUVs offered in Nissan’s product lineup.

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