$6,847 - $10,166

2010 Nissan Pathfinder Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder was new.


Performance: 7.5

Reviewers said the 2010 Pathfinder rides on a truck-based chassis and still provides an adequate ride on pavement, although it's a bit choppy. It's a capable off-road SUV, but others have better performance off the beaten track.

  • "Pathfinder is less absorbent than crossover rivals, but fine for a traditional truck-based SUV. The 16-inch tires iron out broken pavement better than LE's 18s or SE Off-Road's all-terrain treads. Still, bumps and expansion joints can cause some bounce and body shudder." -- Consumer Guide
  • "[I]f you do routinely tow a boat or venture to a cabin in the woods, the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is still one of the strongest members of the traditional midsize SUV class." -- Edmunds
  • "Though it's a traditional body-on-frame SUV, the Pathfinder's all-independent suspension delivers surprising agility, as well as a smooth ride." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers were relatively pleased with the base V6, and they loved the V8's extra power. The standard engine in the S and SE models is a 266-horsepower 4.0-liter V6, while LE models offer a 310-horsepower 5.6-liter V8. According to the EPA, the two-wheel drive Pathfinder achieves 15/22 mpg city/highway with the six-cylinder engine. Shoppers should keep in mind that the Pathfinder doesn't offer two-wheel drive paired with the V8 engine. Four-wheel drive models achieve 14/20 with the V6 and 13/18 with the V8. These figures are in the bottom half of the Pathfinder's class, but are about average when compared only with other off-road SUVs.

  • "V6 Pathfinders are peppy from a stop and around town. A 2WD SE did 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds in our testing. Passing maneuvers require brief moment for transmission to downshift, but power is ample thereafter. However, some testers feel the V6 labors to deliver brisk uphill acceleration from midrange speeds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With either engine, the 2010 Nissan Pathfinder is an impressive performer. The eight-cylinder variant smokes the Ford Explorer's V8 on the way to 60 mph by a full 2 seconds, and its automatic transmission provides perfectly timed and smooth gearshifts." -- Edmunds
  • "Both engines shoot power through a five-speed automatic transmission, with the SE getting a manual-shift feature. The transmission upshifts smoothly, but faster downshifts would be appreciated." -- MSN
  • "[T]he engine does sound a bit archaic compared with some of the smoother V6s on offer these days, particularly from Honda. I like this engine, though -- the torque is impressive." -- AutoWeek  

Handling and Braking

Some reviewers found the Pathfinder's ride lacking because it can feel very truck-like. That means the Pathfinder may not be the most comfortable daily driver. For an off-road SUV that's smoother on the pavement, consider the Toyota 4Runner.

  • "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 steering is surprisingly responsive and sharp, especially for an SUV of this size, giving it an almost sporty feel in traffic. However, the Pathfinder still drives more like a truck than a car-based crossover, with its heavy curb weight and pronounced body roll." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the Pathfinder handles with car-like ease. The ride is smooth without feeling overly soft and though not as plush as some car-based SUVs, it's still far from stiff." -- Motor Week
  • "When you're out cruising on the highway, it is plenty comfortable and soaks up rough patches, but once again requires a steady hand and does not inspire confidence to do anything more than cruise in nice straight lines." -- Automobile.com
  • "The ride was on the harsh side, and there were some rattles heard inside as we banged over the potholes." -- AutoWeek  


The Pathfinder's off-road abilities are decent enough, but it still ranks in the bottom half of its class when compared with other off-road SUVs. The Pathfinder seems to straddle the line between off-roader and family SUV, which prevents it from accomplishing either goal particularly well. A downside is that a special off-road model is no longer offered.

The Pathfinder has an available four-wheel active brake limited slip system. For 4x4 models, the S and SE feature a shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case, while the top-of-the-line LE gets an all-mode two-speed transfer case.

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