2012 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder may appear beefy at first glance but there are many areas where it is lacking. Perhaps because it was designed and built to serve two purposes and those are being a family SUV and a truck.

In its class, it is the only truck-based SUV that you can find. For sure, it can go off road and tow but there is certainly another truck that can outperform it.


General Info
Vehicle Type: SUV Base Price: $29,290.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 21 gallons (79L) MPG: 15 city / 22 hwy
Length: 192.3 in. (488.4 cm) Wheel Base: 112.2 in. (285 cm)
Height: 72 in. (182.8 cm) Width: 72.8 in. (184.9 cm)
Curb Weight: 4427 lbs (2008 kg) Ground Clearance: 8.7 in. (22 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 16.5 cu ft Maximum Seating: 7 people
Engine: 24 Valve V6 DOHC Displacement: 4.0 Liter
Horsepower: 266 HP Max RPM: 5600 RPM
Torque: 288 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic
Max Towing Capacity: 6000 lbs (2721 kgs) Maximum Speed: NA
Available Trims & Engine
Option:SV MSRP: $32,460; MPG: 15 city / 22 hwy
Option:Silver Edition MSRP: $36,630; MPG: 15 city / 22 hwy
Option:LE V6 MSRP: $40,240; MPG: 15 city / 22 hwy
Option:LE V8 MSRP: $43,970; MPG: 13 city / 18 hwy


The Nissan Pathfinder, particularly its LE model, is equipped with a V8 5.6 liter engine that delivers 310 horsepower and 388 lbs/ft of torque. With this, the Pathfinder can tow up to 7,000 pounds.

All models come with a 5-speed automatic transmission but prospective buyers can go for the optional manual shift mode that assists in towing. It is obvious that the Pathfinder has adequate muscle.

According to the EPA, the 4-wheel drive V8 has a fuel efficiency rating of 18 mpg for highway and 13 mpg for city driving, statistics that send the Pathfinder to the bottom half of the list for midsize SUVs. The Chevrolet Tahoe 4-wheel drive model outperforms the Pathfinder in this area with its fuel economy rating of 21 mpg for highway and 15 mpg for city driving.


Most midsize SUVs drive like cars; a trait that is missing in the Pathfinder. Today’s midsize SUVs handle better. And because the new Pathfinder drives like a truck, expect the body to lean in turns and the nose to dive during stops.

Basically, the Pathfinder performs like a truck. Nevertheless, the brakes of the Pathfinder are strong. The transmission of the new Pathfinder works just fine though you have to shift often to hit the sweet spot of the engine and draw most of its power.


The looks of the Pathfinder are not stellar either. What you can make from it by your first glance is that it is serious in everything that it is designed to do. The design looks a bit dated.


The interior of the new Pathfinder does not seem to be able to keep up with the competition. Some materials that were used in the interior feel cheap. The third row is not accessible as in other makes and are not as big as what its competitors offer. The controls in the center console are not user friendly.

The LE trim has leather trimmed seats that are equipped with heaters. The seats are comfortable enough but the third row seems to be designed for children. The space is not enough for full grown adults.


The safety scores of the new Pathfinder are average. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a “good” score in front and side crash tests. However, it received “marginal” in rear impact and roof strength tests.

The Pathfinder has anti lock brakes, airbags, head restraints in the front seats and traction control. Other safety features are supplemental side-impact airbags and all-rows rollover protection.


The 2012 Pathfinder comes with the standard 3-year warranty from Nissan and a 5-year warranty for the powertrain. These types of warranties are just average in its class.

Pros & Cons

The new Pathfinder can provide power for towing duties, thanks to the beefy V8 engine.

The Pathfinder is an SUV that drives like a truck. The second and third rows are not as spacious as those of its competitors and there is less cargo space.

Although it brings all the basic things that you need in a vehicle, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder cannot bring anything more.


Other SUVs that may pique your interest to compare the Pathfinder with are the Ford Explorer (MSRP $28,280; 18 city / 25 hwy), Honda Pilot (MSRP $28,620; 18 city / 25 hwy), and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (MSRP $27,195; 17 city / 23 hwy).

Overall Rating
64 out of 100

What others say:

“The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder appeals to those who need tow or off-road, yet occasionally carry passengers; if it’s the other way around, you can do better.”Car Connection

“Low-effort cornering induces noseplow and body lean typical of truck-type SUVs. A wide turning radius hurts close-quarters maneuvering. Braking action is smooth and progressive.”Consumer Guide

“The Pathfinder’s smooth, strong V6 returned only 15 mpg overall in our testing.”MSN Auto-ConsumerReports

“If you’re looking for a dual-purpose SUV, one that can safely get you and family to and fro, but also serve as a rugged off-road and hauling machine, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder SUV is one of a few dwindling body-on-frame SUVs from which to choose.”KBB

“The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder’s size and weight make it better suited to serious utility than daily passenger transport. This is a real sport-utility, so those seeking a passenger vehicle will be better served by any number of large crossover SUVs.”Edmunds