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2008 Nissan Pathfinder V-8 & Titan Pro-4X - First Drives

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on September 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Courtesy Nissan North America

The 2008 model year is already upon us, and new-model 4x4s are rolling into showrooms across the country. This month, Nissan leaps into the fray with its newest built-for-work Titan pickup, with a longer wheelbase and a rear locker, and the latest iteration of its flagship Pathfinder SUV, now sporting two extra cylinders under the hood. The new Nissans went on sale late last spring, and your local dealer should have them in stock for a testdrive. Here's the skinny:

For 2008, the 112-inch-wheelbase Pathfinder receives a host of upgrades, none more noteworthy than the Titan-sourced 5.6L Endurance V-8. The engine, now rated at 310 hp and 388 lb-ft of torque, required some extra longitudinal clearance to fit between the F-Alpha framerails, so the Pathfinder gets a slightly longer hood and front clip, with bigger fenders and headlamps, to accommodate the V-8's added length. The 4.0L V-6 rated at 266 hp is still available, and both engines are mated to the TorqKing five-speed automatic transmission. V-6 'Finders receive the standard part-time two-speed transfer case with 2.60:1 low-range, while V-8 models come equipped with the new XN Multi-Mode system, which operates like a variable all-wheel-drive system in Auto mode but which can be switched electronically to operate in either 4-Hi or 4-Lo modes on demand.

Also for '08, the Pathfinder takes a page from the Nismo playbook with an available Off-Road package in SE trim, which includes lower 3.36:1 axles (2.94:1s are standard), Bilstein shocks, BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/As on 16-inch rims, Hill Descent and Hill Start Assist, and skidplating for the oil pan, fuel tank, and transfer case. The bad news is; it's only available for V-6 Pathfinders, though V-8 models do receive four-wheel "brake limited-slips" (i.e., traction control). Suspension is independent/double wishbone at both ends, with coilover shocks up front. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, and 65-series BFG Long Trails are base rubber.

Besides sporting new sheetmetal styling reminiscent of the modern-day Patrol (much of it's actually shared with the Armada SUV), the Pathfinder's interior also gets a freshening, with a revised center stack, new illuminated switchgear, optional 10-speaker Bose stereo with Bluetooth and MP3 capabilities, and a new built-in Nav system with a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for music and data storage.

Inside, the '08 Pathfinder gets a revised center stack, along with new illuminated switchgear, MP3/Bluetooth compatibility, and a nifty nav system with a 9GB hard drive for digital music storage.

Vehicle/model: 2008 Nissan Pathfinder
Base price (4x4 models): $27,700
Engines: 4.0L V-6/5.6L V-8
Max hp & torque (lb-ft): 266 & 288/310 & 388
Transmission(s): Jatco five-speed automatic
Transfer case(s): Part-time two-speed/XN Multi-Mode full-time two-speed
Low-range ratio: 2.60:1
Frame type: Boxed steel ladder
Suspension, f/r: IFS, double wishbones, coilover shocks/IRS, double wishbones, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Ring and pinion: 2.94:1 (base)
Max crawl ratio: 29.18:1 (base)
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r: 11.7x1.10 vented disc/12.7x.70 vented disc
Wheels (tested): 17x7 alloy
Tires (tested): 265/65R17 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail
Wheelbase (in): 112.2
Length (in): 192.5
Height (in):72.9
Base curb weight (lb): 4,684-5,182
Approach/departure angles (deg): N/A
Minimum ground clearance (in): 8.8-9.2
GVWR (lb): 6,113-6,500
Max cargo volume (cu. ft.): 140.9
Max towing capacity (lb):7,000
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg): 15/21
Fuel capacity (gal): 21.1

What's Hot: Endurance V-8 and five-speed automatic, an awesome powertrain for a midsize; exterior styling evokes modern-day Patrols; Bilsteins and BFGs are available factory options.
What's Not: Open diffs; inconsistent options packages; 18-inch rims for V-8 models; BFGs and Bilsteins only available with the V-6.
Our Take: The V-8 Pathfinder should be the Dragstrip King of the midsize class, but a dedicated off-road package (or a smaller wheel option) for the bigger engine would've been nice.

More choices than ever await the prospective Titan buyer for 2008; Nissan's fullsize now comes in four trim models, two cab configurations, four bed lengths ranging from 5 1/2 to 8 feet, and two wheelbases. For 2008, the Titan now is offered in a 160-inch long-wheelbase version with an overall length in excess of 12 feet.

There's little question Nissan designers had "work" in mind when freshening the Titan, and for 2008, rated payload takes a 500-pound leap to over 1-ton, thanks to stiffer chassis and spring tuning. Tow rating has been bumped up to 9,400 pounds, and to compensate, the rear axle sports a new, stronger aluminum diff cover, strengthened inner and outer bearing materials and seals, and a new ring-and-pinion configuration that replaces the two-pinion design with a stouter four-pinion setup. Based on our own experiences with the first-gen Titan, we'd still be a bit hesitant to tow super-heavy loads with this axle for extended distances at freeway speeds, but it's good to see Nissan engineers making earnest efforts to improve what has been up to now the weakest link in the Titan's drivetrain.

Another welcome upgrade is the new-for-'08 Pro-4X Off Road package, which gets you an honest-to-goodness electronic rear locking diff, Rancho shocks, 3.36:1 axle gears, and skidplates for the fuel tank and T-case. Minimum ground clearance is a commendable 10 1/2 inches.

Held over for 2008, the 5.6L V-8 and five-speed are still the only power offerings, with a part-time transfer case with 2.60:1 low-range turning an independent/wishbone front and leaf-sprung solid-axle rear. Bigger brakes (now with 13.8-inch calipers in front, 12.6s in the rear) necessitate bigger rims, so 18s are the smallest available wheel now, with 20x8s a factory option. Then again, the long-wheelbase Titan comes with a 37-gallon fuel tank, which translates into what one wag on our staff calls a "620-mile pimpin' range."

What's Hot: Genuine 8-foot bed; rear locker with Pro-4X package; bigger brakes; 10 1/2 inches of ground clearance; 600-mile fuel range.
What's Not: Poor breakover angle and turning circle for long-wheelbase model; Pro-4X package not available for all bed configurations.
Our Take: Its weakest links addressed and an Off-Road package on the options list, the Titan looks more than ever like a genuine work truck that can hold its own in the dirt.

Hard to believe this is a pickup truck interior, but LE-level Titans can be had with the kinds of upscale wood and stainless appliques that could make our boy Brubaker trade in his Escalade.

Vehicle/model: 2008 Nissan Titan
Base price (4x4 models): $26,900
Engine: 5.6L V-8
Max hp & torque (lb-ft): 310 & 388
Transmission: Jatco five-speed automatic
Transfer case: Part-time two-speed
Low-range ratio: 2.60:1
Frame type: Boxed steel ladder
Suspension, f/r: IFS, double wishbones, stabilizer bar/Solid axle, leaf springs
Axle ratio: 3.36:1
Max crawl ratio: 33.35:1
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r: 13.8x1.2 disc/13x0.6 disc
Wheels (tested): 18x8 alloy
Tires (tested): P275/70R18 BFG Rugged Trail T/A
Wheelbase (in): 139.8-159.5
Length (in): 224.6-244.2
Height (in): 79.5
Base curb weight (lb): 5,230-5,618
Approach/departure angles (deg): 30.5/27.7 (Pro-4X)
Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.7 (Pro-4X)
GVWR (lb): 7,101-7,200
Bed length (in): 79.1-87.0
Max towing capacity (lb): 9,400
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg): 12/17
Fuel capacity (gal): 28.0/37.

Our time with the new Nissans was brief-roughly an hour of wheeling over a muddy off-road course in the hills of western Wisconsin-so while we can't relate a lot of detailed impressions, we made the following notes:

* Both V-8 Nissans will power up any steep, rutted hillclimb without any fuss-just put 'er in First, take it up to redline and enjoy the ride.
* Traction control is no substitute for a locker in greasy Midwestern goo.
* The long-wheelbase Titan isn't made for tight, twisty trails unless buffing out brush scratches is your idea of fun.
* BFG's Rugged Trails aren't the best treads for mud, but given just a little time on solid ground, they self-clean rather quickly.
* We'll have both the V-8 Pathfinder and the Pro-4X Titan on hand for extensive evaluations at our 2008 Four Wheeler and Pickup Truck of the Year tests, to appear in the February and March 2008 issues, respectively. Stick around.


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