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2001 Nissan Pathfinder Review - Long-Term Update

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on April 1, 2002
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Contributors: Jon Thompson

You may recall that the 2001 Nissan Pathfinder was the Four Wheeler of the Year for 2001. We were enthusiastic about the Pathfinder then, and after having lived with it for more than 15,000 miles, we're no less so. It's been a willing and eager companion for whatever kind of mischief we've wanted to put it up to.

The chief joy is the Pathfinder's wonderful 3.5L V-6 engine. Romp on the gas pedal and you're outta there, buddy, the king of the stoplight grand prix. There's a price for that, though-average fuel economy has been 16.3-not bad, one supposes, but not wonderful, either.

Glitches? There've been two. First, the chain hoist for the spare tire jammed and took all manner of cussin' and wrenchin' to get straightened out. Second, the grille-surround for the right-side foglamp came adrift and disappeared. A replacement set us back $60.87. Other than that, there have been no complaints. And that's high praise indeed.

The Dirt
One of the things we liked about the Pathfinder we tested during the '01 Four Wheeler of the Year comparo, was that its transfer case was stirred by an actual gear lever. What we'd like, however, is something in the rear axle besides an open diff. The ability to lock the rear axle makes all the difference.

Street Smarts
The Pathfinder does just fine out there on the pavement. It's a bit cramped for long trips, especially for four people; but for two, just fold the rear seat down, load all your stuff, and away you go. The brakes match the engine's power, and one of the benefits of IFS is that the Pathfinder rides and handles very well on pavement.

Best Components
Plucked from the same parts shelves that equipped the Nissan Maxima, this 3.5L V-6 could give lessons on how engines should work. It's strong, smooth, and quiet, moving the Pathfinder with surprising authority. Fuel economy has not been stellar, but light-footed folks on long trips have racked up surprisingly economical numbers.

Long-Term Numbers
Miles to date: 15,058
Average mpg: 16.29
Best tank mpg: 25.0
Worst tank mpg: 11.19
Oil consumed (qts.): 0
Stucks to date: 0

Flat left-rear tire, patch, and balance.
Cost: $35
Replace plastic foglamp grille.
Cost: $60.87
Major 15,000-mile dealer service.
Cost: $327.49

Six words describing the nissan pathfinder:
1 Handy
2 Fast
3 Compact
4 Thirsty
5 Comfortable
6 Nimble

What We Like Most:
So flog us for saying this, but we really like the Pathfinder's abilities in traffic. As a commuter, it's much easier to deal with than a fullsize pickup or SUV. And of course there's that wonderful engine.

What We Dislike Most:
Lack of driver headroom, though you'll likely not be impacted by this if you stand less than 6 feet tall.

Logbook Quotes
* "Suspension is basic. Not enough shock control; I feel lots of rear-axle activity, especially over freeway expansion joints."
* "Second gear is geared way too high, if you ask me."
* "Brakes are nice and powerful."

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