2003 NISSAN PATHFINDER 4 DOOR WAGON
Used Truck - 2003 Nissan Pathfinder 4 DOOR WAGON in Spokane, Wa
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2003 Nissan Pathfinder ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Nissan Pathfinder is a powerful, quick performer. It feels surprisingly light and agile and offers wonderfully quick throttle response. The current design has been with us for awhile now, but the Pathfinder still looks contemporary.
Nissan now has three sport-utilities, and that'll soon grow to four. If Nissan's entry-level Xterra is considered tough gear, then the Pathfinder is premium equipment. Pathfinder offers luxury features and refinement not found in Xterra, yet still provides genuine off-road capability. The Pathfinder competes with the Toyota 4Runner.
Leather upholstery is standard on the Pathfinder LE, the top model for 2003. Side-impact airbags and curtain air bags are standard on the LE. Pathfinder SE models get re-styled six-spoke 16-inch wheels and titanium-colored interior accents. All Pathfinders feature a new four-spoke steering wheel and an electronic rear hatch window release.
A new Dynamic Control Package includes electronic stability control, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Also, a choice of XM or Sirius satellite radio is now available on all Pathfinders.
All Nissan Pathfinder models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, which provides 240 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque. All come with a four-speed automatic transmission. All offer a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Pathfinder comes in SE and LE trim levels.
SE ($26,799) comes with an eight-way adjustable driver's seat, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, cruise control, automatic on/off headlights, air conditioning, power windows and locks, heated power mirrors, an AM/FM/cassette/CD audio system, remote keyless entry, flip-out liftgate glass with intermittent wiper, tilt steering wheel, and P255/65R16 mud-and-snow tires on 16-inch six-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels.
LE ($31,099) adds leather upholstery, a power sunroof, side-impact and side-curtain air bags, eight-way power for the driver's seat, four-way power for the passenger, halogen fog lights, 150-watt Bose audio with a six-disc in-dash CD changer, 17-inch alloy wheels with 245/65 mud-and-snow tires, running boards rather than step bars, roof rack cross bars, wood-tone trim, automatic temperature controls, Homelink universal transceiver, a cargo net and retractable cargo cover. Body-color mirrors and splash guards help distinguish the LE from the black-trimmed SE.
SE 4x4 ($28,799) models rely on a two-speed transfer case with shift-on-the-fly capability. LE 4x4 ($33,799) models upgrade to an All-Mode push-button system that lets the driver select 2WD, Auto, 4Hi and 4Lo. A limited-slip differential ($249) is available for improved traction in slippery conditions. Two-wheel-drive Pathfinders are propelled by their rear wheels.
The new Dynamic Control Package ($749) includes the Vehicle Dynamic Control electronic stability system, traction control, and a tire-pressure monitor system. Satellite navigation ($1,999) is available for LE models and a mobile entertainment system is available with DVD ($1599) or VHS ($1299).
A Leather Package for SE 4x2 ($1999) includes perforated leather seating surfaces, eight-way power driver seat, four-way front passenger seat, simulated leather door trim, front seat side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, dual visors with illuminated vanity mirrors; the same package for SE 4x4 ($2199) also includes heated seats. A Sunroof Package ($1099) is available for SE that includes one-touch power sunroof, temperature gauge, digital compass, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, Homelink.
Nissan Pathfinder was last redesigned for the 1999 model year, and even then represented an evolutionary rather than revolutionary change from the previous generation. Still, the Pathfinder remains winsome and efficient, with a square-jawed galoot look up front, emphasized by last year's new grille. Multi-parabola headlights give it a bit of a jeweled appearance.
New alloy wheels add some freshness for 2003. SE has a step rail for climbing into and out of the truck, while LE has running boards. The tailgate lifts up from the bottom. A separate release allows just the rear window to open. This can be performed by pressing a button located on the inside door grip next to the fuel door release.
The outside door handles are small and dated in design. The spare tire is mounted underneath the rear of the chassis, better for interior space. The radio antenna is wrapped in swirled wire to reduce wind noise at speed. The roof rack has adjustable sliding tie-downs. SE comes with a unique titanium-colored roof rack with integrated air dam.
The Pathfinder's interior was updated last year (2002), with new front seats and a revised audio system. It's a nice-looking interior with an attractive dash that looks contemporary. Interior materials appear to be of good quality. The simulated wood-grain trim warms the interior of the LE.
The leather-trimmed seats look good and feature perforated leather inserts. The optional eight-way power front seats are supportive and comfortable. The two-position memory system is easy to set up. The new leather-covered four-spoke steering wheel on our LE was comfortable. The main instruments on LE models uses Nissan's trademark black-on-white pattern, while the 2003 SE features a black-on-titanium scheme.
Heating and air conditioning controls are mounted at the top of the center stack where they are easy to reach. A big temperature knob and big, clearly marked buttons make it easy to operate. It's an automatic climate control system, but there's only one zone. The audio system works okay, but is lacking in aesthetics. Audio controls on the steering wheel do not include volume, but it's easy to adjust on the center stack.
In addition to central/remote locking, our Pathfinder had one-touch up/down windows on driver and passenger side and a one-touch open/close sunroof. These are a welcome convenience, because the vast majority of the time we want to open or close the windows or sunroof all the way. The window switches are mounted on the doors where they are easy to find and operate. The inside door handles are small and dainty. The rear glass can be opened by pressing a button on the driver's door grip or by turning the key in the rear door lock. Once open, you can walk under the rear hatch.
The driver's cupholder is on the center console to the left and forward of the shifter, perfect for access. Two more cupholders are mounted in the elbow area of the center console, awkward to reach. Center console storage is two-tiered, and awkward for the driver to reach. Mounted in the overhead console are useful outside temperature and digital compass readouts in LED, along with a good pair of map lights. One tester banged his head on the overhead console every time he got in and put on his seatbelt. Others did not seem to have this problem. A nice, solid shade covers the glass sunroof. Double visors are useful for those times when the sun is coming through the upper corner of the windshield. Homelink buttons are mounted on the driver visor for easy garage door operation.
Rear seats are comfortable and reasonably roomy for two adults. To aid climbing in, grab handles are provided at both rear doors and on the passenger side. Rear seats are split 60/40 and fold down for versatile cargo hauling. Flip the seat bottom forward and then flip the seatback down for a fairly flat load floor. Finding the lever to release the seat bottom can be challenging and it's a little awkward to operate. You have to remove the headrests before folding the seatback down and there's no place provided to store them. The coat hooks are too small for a big load of dry cleaning.
Nissan Pathfinder always surprises us with its sporty performance and handling. The throttle is very responsive and the 3.5-liter V6 delivers quick acceleration performance. It's quick off the line and has little trouble beating traffic out of the gate. Pathfinder's drive-by-wire electronic throttle control seems overly sensitive at tip-in, but we quickly learned to use a soft touch when taking off. Once underway, the throttle is quick and very responsive. There's plenty of performance for passing on two-lane roads or merging quickly into fast traffic. With 240 horsepower at 6000 rpm, a Pathfinder 4x4 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in the mid-8 second range, more spirited than most SUVs.
The sporty driving experience extends to the handling. Pathfinder responds quickly to input from steering wheel, making it enjoyable to drive. It feels lighter on its feet than most SUVs, not as heavy and ponderous when cornering. This makes it easy to move through traffic and enjoyable on on-ramps or rural roads.
Pathfinder rides well. It feels more refined than the Nissan Xterra, but a little less refined than the all-new Toyota 4Runner. Pathfinder has been with us for awhile, but is holding up very well.
The brakes work smoothly and are easy to operate. Drums are used on the rear, but ABS is standard.
Pathfinder LE 4x4 comes with the push-button All-Mode 4WD system. Twist a big retro knob to select 2WD, Auto, 4Hi, or 4Lo. SE 4x4 comes with a traditional part-time four-wheel-drive system with shift-on-the-fly and a two-speed transfer case.
The Pathfinder is a capable off-road vehicle as well. It's built for rugged terrain and is ready to go anywhere, especially if you order the limited-slip differential. We drove the current-generation Pathfinder at a rugged off-road course in Canada and were impressed with its ability to climb and descend steep, rocky sections. It has good suspension articulation and good approach and departure angles. We wouldn't hesitate to drive one at an off-road function nor would we hesitate to drive one to our favorite trout stream.
Nissan Pathfinder delivers quick acceleration. It is a modern, all-purpose sport-utility of the first order, delivering comfort, toughness and utility. It feels light on its feet and is a good teammate for the daily commute. Its interior is comfortable and attractive, with nice materials and easy-to-operate designed switchgear.
Like the Toyota 4Runner, the Pathfinder uses a live rear axle and offers genuine off-road capability. It doesn't match the refinement, size, or capability of the all-new 4Runner, but it's priced lower.
SE 4X2 ($26,799); SE 4X4 ($28,799); LE 4X2 ($31,099); LE 4X4 ($33,799).
Options As Tested
Dynamic Control Package $749; floor mats $79; body-color side molding ($119); Class III tow hitch ($419).
Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4 ($31,099).
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