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2009 Nissan Pathfinder LE Review

2009 Nissan Pathfinder LE Review
Dec 24, 2009
2009 Nissan Pathfinder LE Review
by Mathieu St-Pierre , Auto123.com
The Pathfinder and I share a little history. It's actually more of an inside joke here at auto123.com as the present generation of Nissan's full-fledged SUV and I shared an experience a few years back that was captured on video. I'll elaborate further later on.

It's got presence, plenty of room and is almost handsome enough to be considered good-looking.

Seriously, I have always been a fan of the Pathfinder. From 1987 on, or 1986.5 if you prefer, I have admired this truck for its rugged chiselled looks, off-road abilities and overall aura. As the body styles and generations progressed, I clearly remember taking my first Pathfinder for a test drive. And what a drive it was! This was a 2000.5 (or 2001) with the freshly-transplanted 250-hp 3.5L V6 mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox (240 hp with the 4-speed auto). I was in Heaven! This truck rocked, flew and did circles around competitors like the Explorer, 4Runner and Cherokee of the time.

Third generation

As 2005 rolled around, I was given the opportunity to evaluate the completely revamped Pathfinder and its new, more-powerful 266-hp 4.0L V6. I not only had a blast ploughing through snow-covered roads and parking lots, I thoroughly enjoyed the V6's extra grunt. The truck's styling, re-penned in 2008 with new fascia, wheels and V8 (now discontinued) played a huge role in my appreciation of the product.

Granted, the cabin did not fare as well in my review. Overrun by cheap hard plastics, the passenger quarter left much to be desired. Nissan addressed the issue in 2008, redesigning certain portions of the dashboard and replacing much of the Mattel materials by higher-grade ones, large parts being of the soft-touch variety. Then and now, front seats offered decent comfort for distance driving. Both rear benches are flat, short on coziness and not particularly suited for adults travelling for any extended period of time.

This latest bout with the Pathfinder took me to my annual pilgrimage to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the AJAC's TestFest. Loaded with camera equipment, luggage and three passengers, the big Nissan fared well in the hauling department. What we did not expect was the unsettling wind, tire and engine noise that haunted our ear drums and made polite conversation near impossible at 115 km/h. Thankfully, the LE trim includes standard XM Satellite radio so we blasted our favourite tunes on the Bose audio system and saved talking for pit stops.

The Pathfinder's steering is fairly vague and handling inspires far less than confidence.
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