$9,315 - $13,861

2011 Nissan Pathfinder Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Nissan Pathfinder was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.1

The 2011 Pathfinder rides on a truck-based chassis and still provides an adequate ride on pavement, although it's a bit choppy. A rough on-pavement ride is the tradeoff for strong off-road capabilities, but reviewers say the Pathfinder doesn’t trump the competition there, either.

  • "Pathfinder is less absorbent than crossover rivals, but fine for a traditional truck-based SUV. ... Still, bumps and expansion joints can cause some bounce and body shudder." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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

The base engine in the S model is a 266-horsepower 4.0-liter V6, while the SV and LE models come with an optional 310-horsepower 5.6-liter V8. Reviewers are relatively pleased with the base V6, and they love the V8's extra power. The Pathfinder's power numbers surpass those of many competitors, including the smoother-riding Toyota 4Runner.

However, the Pathfinder pays the price in fuel economy. According to the EPA, the RWD 2011 Pathfinder achieves 15/22 mpg city/highway with the six-cylinder engine. The 4WD model achieves 14/20 mpg with the six-cylinder and 13/18 mpg with the V8. These figures are in the bottom half of the Pathfinder's class, but are about average when compared only to other off-road SUVs. Still, many off-roaders achieve better gas mileage. These include the Jeep Patriot, Suzuki Grand Vitara and Kia Borrego.

  • "V6 Pathfinders are peppy from a stop and around town. A 2WD [SV] did 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds in our testing. Passing maneuvers require a brief moment for the 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 . . .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
  • "The transmission upshifts smoothly, but faster downshifts would be appreciated." -- MSN
  • "The 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

Since its 2005 redesign, the Pathfinder has been based on the same platform as the full-size Armada and rides on a fully boxed, all-steel ladder frame with a front and rear independent double-wishbone suspension. Some reviewers find the 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 similarly priced 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
  • "The ride was on the harsh side, and there were some rattles heard inside as we banged over the potholes." -- AutoWeek  

Off-Roading

The Pathfinder's off-road abilities are decent enough, but it still ranks in the bottom half of its class when compared to 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.

The Pathfinder comes optional with a 4-Wheel Active Brake Limited Slip system (and it won't cost you anything extra). 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.

Find the Best Price

Enter your zip code to get local pricing.

Get Dealer Quotes

To get dealer quotes, enter your zip code.

Search Used Listings

To search used listings, enter your zip code.

Change Location

Enter your zip code to see listings near you.

Please enter a valid zipcode

Best Price Program

Interested in a New?

Use the U.S. News Best Price Program to find great deals and get upfront pricing on the.

Dismiss