Pros: Looks, Power, Reliability
Cons: Gas mileage
My wife and I were in the market for a SUV for about 6 months. We knew there were A LOT of them out there to choose from, but we did have a certain level of reliability, looks, cost and utility. We test drove 3 generations of Pathfinders, the Saturn Vue, Ford Explorer, The Honda CRV, Passport & More, but the pathfinder always came out on top.
We purchased a 2003 SE model with every bell and whistle it came with. From a sunroof & heated seats to leather and front power seats, this vehicle had everything we wanted. One of my biggest wants was towing capacity - the pathfinder has it (5000+ lbs. of it). Four wheel drive was another desire and most of the competition in the price range had front wheel drive with the automatic 4wd - I preferred a manual mode that I can control - not a computer. Since owning I've taken it off-road and its unstoppable. The 4wd and towing is made true with a 3.5 liter V6 putting out 240 horsepower. The engine has a lot of power - and it rather quiet. the 4 speed transmission works well, although there is a slight lag in between 2nd and 3rd gear - but that's not a real big deal to me.
On the outside, the pathfinder has great lines and a solid, yet rugged look. One option we have is the matching running boards which add a lot to the looks and makes it easier to get in and out of. 16" wheels and fog lights finish it all up for me.
now we go inside...
It's nice, roomy and well appointed. With the optional leather interior, the interior is close to perfect. The interior is plush with lots of detail. All controls are in the proper spots although the radio could be a bit higher. The seats are very supportive (much more then the LE model), and the power controls on both front seats are a nice touch. All of the vent controls are in one digital unit which looks and works well. Cruise control and stereo controls are on the steering wheel.
One of my favorite features is the amount of storage space and the large, plush center console! The center console has 2 cup holder with 2 more in the back. The rear seats are plush and recline! I'm 6-2 and there is plenty of room in the back seats with me driving. I was not a big fan of sun roofs until I got this pathfinder. Our roof rack has a large wind deflector which allows for the sunroof to be open without all the wind noise. In the rear, there is alot of cargo room and a utility compartment on the bottom.
The pathfinder drives like a car! If I didn't sit so high, I would never know I'm driving an SUV. Acceleration is great and within a few seconds, I'm pushing 80 mph. The breaking is also good. My only gripe is the gas mileage. I'm averaging about 17.5-18 with mixed city/highway. It's a heavy vehicle with a large, powerful engine - so it's expected. Given the weight, it drives very light.
We are very happy with our purchase. The reliability of the pathfinder was selling point #1 for me. As mentioned, the only gripe is the gas mileage - which was expected. I don't mind the cost because i feel comfortable, sale and at peace when driving.