24 Best & Worst Nissan Pathfinder Years (With Pictures)

The Nissan Pathfinder is a midsize SUV that was introduced as a 1990 model in the U.S.

It known for its rugged exterior, impressive towing capacity, and off-road chops.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the best and worst model years of the Pathfinder.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Nissan Pathfinder Are:

The best Nissan Pathfinder model years are 2023, 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2004, and 2003. The worst model years of the Pathfinder are 2005, 2006, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2007, 2008, 2001, 2002, 1997, 1996, and 2017. This is based on reviews, NHTSA stats, and problems.

What Are The Best Years For The Nissan Pathfinder?

2023 and 2022 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2023 and 2022 Pathfinders are two of the latest and greatest model years and are part of the fifth generation that was introduced for 2022.

While spaciousness and strong towing capabilities were never in doubt, this new generation seeks to boost marketability by having a more appealing and modern interior and exterior design. 

Prospective owners can choose from 5 trim levels: S, SV, SL, Rock Creek, and Platinum.

Pricing ranges from approximately $37,000 to $50,000. 

These model years utilize a 3.5-liter V6 engine (284 horsepower) paired to a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Front-wheel-drive is standard but an all-wheel-drive is also available on everything but the Rock Creek trim (as it has an all-wheel-drive as standard). 

2023 Pathfinder: 

  • Edmunds: 3.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2022 Pathfinder: 

  • Edmunds: 3.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2022 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“I looked at the new GV80, Acura, Highlander, and the Volvo and German models and nothing comes close to the amount of room, new technology for a 7 passenger SUV.  The Genesis is beautiful, but it has no touch screen and uses a dial transmission.  Plus no true 7-passenger.  The Acura has no Auto Pilot and says they are waiting for perfection. Good one. The Highlander interior is cheap looking, with some accordion material over the steering wheel.  The new 2022 Volvo looks about the same as the current model, and the recharge goes less than 20 miles on a charge. The new Pathfinder looks great, like a Range Rover.  It has the latest Autopilot that works in sync with GPS, so it works on most roads and highways.”

2020 and 2019 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2020 and 2019 Pathfinder models are the final fourth gen units produced prior to the 1-year break that this lineup took in preparation for the fifth generation.

These vehicles are known for their strong acceleration (with respectable fuel economy), easily accessible third-row seating, and robust towing capacity.

Safety features are also abundant.

Our favorite ones are Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Around-View Monitor. 

Both models also performed well in crash tests, securing a perfect 5-star safety rating from NHTSA. 

2020 Pathfinder: 

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 81 / 100

2019 Pathfinder: 

  • Edmunds: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 76 / 100

2019 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“If you want a sturdy, reliable, comfortable, powerful, economical SUV for your family, then the Nissan Pathfinder is the best in the market. I owned a 2013 Pathfinder SV for 6 years and 83000 miles (mostly Highway) and recently bought the 2019 Pathfinder SL with premium Package. This combo (SL+Premium package) is the best with all standard Safety features that you’ll find on any other competitor (Honda Pilot; Toyota Highlander; Ford Explorer; Volkswagen Atlas, etc), and a fabulous 13 speaker Bose stereo system, Heated steering; heated second row seats and a panoramic sunroof. In all the last 6 years i never had a single issue with the engine”

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2018 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2018 Pathfinder is a versatile, roomy, and rugged option in the highly competitive midsize SUV segment.

New to this particular model year is Automatic Emergency Braking as a standard feature, a rear-seat reminder system, and additional USB charging ports strategically placed throughout the vehicle interior.

Buyers can choose from 4 trims: S, SV, SL, and Platinum.

All trims come equipped with a beefy 3.5-liter engine (284 horsepower) with either four-wheel-drive or front-wheel drive. 

Owners praised the following aspects of this model: interior, ride quality, comfort, towing ability, value, and appearance. 

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 78 / 100

2018 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“ … We were pleasantly surprised by the test drive, we were blown away by the ease of use of the second row, third row access is achievable without feeling like a sardine! The towing capacity of 6000 Ibs is certified towing capacity and it’s an easy and affordable package to add to any model, unlike some competitors…”

2018 Nissan Pathfinder

2016 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2016 Pathfinder is a fourth generation model that has proven itself to be one of the most reliable model years ever produced.

It sports a premium interior design with high-quality materials, convenient third-row access, and relatively good fuel economy.

According to EPA, owners can expect approximately 23 MPG for combined driving, 20 MPG for city driving, and 27 MPG for highway driving.

It also performed well in NHTSA crash tests, securing a perfect 5-star rating. 

  • Edmunds: 3.9 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2016 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“3 year update: No major issues, small rattle in dash trim but otherwise solid! We have enjoyed owning the 2016 Pathfinder for 3 years now. The original Bridgestone tires recently wore out and we went with Pirelli Scorpion ATRs, highly recommended! We had a small dash rattle at the stereo trim that we will get addressed. No issues with CVT and we maintain a constant 18.5 mpg with 75 percent city driving. It has been a solid choice for our family…”

2012 and 2011 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2012 and 2011 Pathfinder models are known for two specific things: a powerful V6 engine and a powerful V8 engine.

The V6 option is a 4-liter gas engine that provides 266 horsepower while the V8 option is a 5.6-liter engine that provides 310 horsepower. 

Aside from power, towing capability is also either model’s strong suit, being able to tow as much as 7,000 pounds (when properly equipped).

This towing capacity is more than enough to bring medium to large trailers, smaller vehicles, and even standard-size boats. 

Fuel economy is within average figures. EPA claims that either model can provide 17 MPG for combined driving, 15 MPG for city driving, and 22 MPG for highway driving. 

2012 Pathfinder:

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2011 Pathfinder:

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 78 / 100

2012 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“I have had Pathfinders since 2007, I had 2008, 2009 and now have 2012 since that year. I cant complain, it is an amazing vehicle, I have driven this vehicle from NC to NY to TX to AL, anyways this vehicle is just great for whatever you need it, great spacing, I have a family of five and we are super comfortable. The NAV system is great, the radio sound is great (BOSE), only bad part is that it doesn’t have USB ports and can’t connect your Ipod with Bluetooth. Cell phones work great with Bluetooth. It came with a DVD system and two wireless headsets, that’s great for the kids. Like I said I have had mine since 2012 and it runs perfectly, no issues, paint is still awesome, so I can trust that I will have this great vehicle for many many more years. I recommend it to anyone.”

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2010 Pathfinder, much like its successors, provides plenty of power from its V6 and V8 engine options.

It also provides owners with an attractive cabin with good ergonomics, an abundance of storage capacity, and strong towing capabilities.

The major change implemented for this model year was a reduction in available configurations. 

The SE Off Road trim was omitted from the lineup and certain add-on packages were reorganized.

Nevertheless, even the standard trim levels are competent enough to handle light off road excursions and long-distance travels along a highway. 

  • Edmunds: 4.6 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 75 / 100

2010 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“My third one, had an 05, an 07 and now a ’10. Love the Pathfinders. I have an LE this time so a little more plush inside. I am a contractor and use this for work so carry lots of tools and materials, no problem carrying the load. When it cleans up it cleans up good. Gas mileage isn’t great but other than that I can honestly say none of the Pathfinders that I have owned have ever let me down. Excellent build quality and would highly recommend…”

2010 Nissan Pathfinder

2009 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2009 Pathfinder is a sturdy, rugged, and comfortable vehicle. It has proven to be a reliable choice and has scored strong consumer reviews.

It comes in 4 trim levels: S, SE, SE Off Road, and LE.

The base trim (S) includes 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and full power accessories.

The SE trim bumps up the wheel size to 17 inches and provides worthwhile features such as a power driver seat, fog lamps, and a 7-inch information display.

The SE Off Rad variant converts the standard wheels into 16-inch off road alloy wheels with rugged trail tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and useful driver assistance features such as Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. 

The LE, which is the top-spec trim in this lineup, is the only model that comes with a V8 engine and 18-inch alloy wheels, along with keyless ignition, leather upholstery, and heated front seats and steering wheel. 

  • Edmunds: 4.4 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.2 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2009 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“This is my 4th Pathfinder and the best one yet! Great power and smooth ride. Just returned from a long road trip from NY to Florida. Seats were comfortable and the handling was superb. MPG is in line with other trucks this size. 22-23 mpg on the highway with regular unleaded.”

2004 and 2003 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2004 and 2003 Pathfinder models are very competent midsize SUVs that offer several tech and safety features that were quite advanced for their time.

Both models also have a powerful V6 engine, a car-like interior, a solid track record of reliability, and an available all-mode four-wheel-drive configuration for the LE trims.

According to owners, these are the best aspects of either model: comfort, interior styling, exterior appearance, handling, steering, and overall value.  

2004 Pathfinder:

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2003 Pathfinder:

  • Edmunds: 4.7 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.6 / 5.0
  • JD Power: NA

2004 Pathfinder, Edmunds review:

“When the El Nino storms washed away the dirt road to our home, we used our first Pathfinder to escape to safety along a steep horse trail — since then, we’ve been hooked. Now on our second Pathfinder (we traded in the first one when it was 7 years old so that we could have a shiny new one for our babies), we’re still very happy owners. We know that if a mountain trip or weather requires it, our Pathfinder can find a way to get us where we’re going. And it drives well in the city as well. The ABS kicks in when needed, the steering handles curvy roads very well, and the seats are comfortable even for long drives. Although mileage could be better, we get a decent 16 city, 20 highway.”

Consumer Scores For Best Nissan Pathfinder Years

Model YearEdmunds
Consumer Rating
Kelley Blue Book
Consumer Rating
JD Power
Consumer Rating
2023 Nissan Pathfinder3.4 / 5.04.2 / 5.080 / 100
2022 Nissan Pathfinder3.3 / 5.04.2 / 5.080 / 100
2020 Nissan Pathfinder4.0 / 5.04.0 / 5.081 / 100
2019 Nissan Pathfinder4.0 / 5.04.0 / 5.076 / 100
2018 Nissan Pathfinder4.1 / 5.04.0 / 5.078 / 100
2016 Nissan Pathfinder3.9 / 5.04.0 / 5.080 / 100
2012 Nissan Pathfinder4.4 / 5.04.2 / 5.080 / 100
2011 Nissan Pathfinder4.4 / 5.04.2 / 5.078 / 100
2010 Nissan Pathfinder4.6 / 5.04.2 / 5.075 / 100
2009 Nissan Pathfinder4.4 / 5.04.2 / 5.0NA
2004 Nissan Pathfinder4.5 / 5.04.6 / 5.0NA
2003 Nissan Pathfinder4.7 / 5.04.6 / 5.0NA

Related: Nissan Pathfinder Beeping? (13 Causes & Solutions)

What Are The Worst Years For The Nissan Pathfinder?

2005 and 2006 Nissan Pathfinder

Avoid like the plague, says CarComplaints.com about these 2 model years, and rightfully so.

According to statistics we have found online, both the 2005 and 2006 Pathfinders hold the record for most number of problems reported.

Of these thousands of issues and concerns combined, the most commonly reported problem areas are the transmission, engine and radiator.

Numerous owners reported transmission system failure which was often caused by radiator coolant leaks mixing with the transmission fluid.

Others had experienced shudders, jerks, rough shifting and hesitations in normal driving conditions.

Here is what owners had to say:

“The transmission is shuddering, feels like it is slipping at times. The coolant looks like creamy paste. The SUV wants to bounce or pull to the sides. Also at times it feels like the motor is running high and the vehicle will move slowly.”

“Car died on me this morning! mechanic said transmission as well as radiator. Plus coolant and tranny fluid leaked into each other. Something that looks like lawsuits and many others have complained on. Dealership wont fix it!”

  • The 2005 Pathfinder had a total of 1,476 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 677 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2006 Pathfinder had a total of 1,144 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 353 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Coolant leaked into transmission
  • Transmission failed
  • Transmission shakes
  • Transmission slipping
  • Timing chain guides worn out prematurely
2005 Nissan Pathfinder

2013, 2014, and 2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Beware of the clunker, says CarComplaints.com of these 3 models, and its easy to see why.

The 2013, 2014, and 2015 Pathfinders were notorious for several reasons, mainly their problematic transmission system caused by radiator leaks (similar to what owners of the 2005 and 2006 model years experienced).

In addition to this, a lot of owners were affected by a faulty airbag system which was due to the infamous Takata recall.

Essentially the airbags were prone to exploding – this widespread issue affected millions of vehicles of different makes and models. 

  • The 2013 Pathfinder had a total of 1,083 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 207 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2014 Pathfinder had a total of 623 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 149 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2015 Pathfinder had a total of 364 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 91 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Transmission will not engage
  • Transmission jerking and shuddering
  • Transmission slips intermittently
  • Hatch strut mount rusted out
  • Broken radiator motor
  • Power steering noise

2007 and 2008 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2007 and 2008 Pathfinder model years, combined, were given both dishonors of “Avoid Like the Plague” and “Beware of the Clunker” by CarComplaints.com.

These model years suffered from the same severe transmission-radiator-related problems experienced by owners of the 2005 and 2006 model years.

In addition, several owners reported engine-related problems, mostly due to overheating as a result of a faulty radiator which ties back into coolant leakages and pipe damage. 

Here are the details of what a lot of owners experienced as summarized by an owner’s complaint below:

“The vehicle was shifting hard. The Nissan dealership says my transmission cooler failed, causing my coolant and radiator fluid to mix. Because of this I have to replace the transmission, and radiator.”

  • The 2007 Pathfinder had a total of 775 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 297 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2008 Pathfinder had a total of 436 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 131 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Radiator leaked coolant into transmission
  • Timing chain defect
  • Transmission failure
  • Cracked radiator
  • Premature timing chain shoe wear
  • Vibration

2001 and 2002 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2001 and 2002 Pathfinder models were extremely dangerous to drive due to faulty brake system and suspension issues.

According to reports, owners experienced sudden brake failure as a result of rusted brake lines which originated from the struts of the vehicle. 

Struts, for everyone’s information, are structural support components for the vehicle suspension to keep the suspension spring supported and aligned.

This chain of events has led a lot of owners to near-accident situations and is cause for immediate check up with a local authorized service center. 

  • The 2001 Pathfinder had a total of 296 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 16 complaints at CarComplaints.com.
  • The 2002 Pathfinder had a total of 201 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 16 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Strut mount assembly corroded
  • CD changer ate CDs
  • Check engine light on
  • Engine failure
  • Extreme oil use
  • Premature tire wear

1996 and 1997 Nissan Pathfinder

Similar to the 2001 and 2002 models, the 1996 and 1997 Pathfinders suffered from suspension-related issues and defects.

Most authorized technicians discovered that the front suspension housing and struts were severely corroded, essentially making the vehicle a safety hazard on the road. 

The experience of one owner below is a lesson as to why this kind of issue needs to be immediately rectified:

“While driving at highway speeds of 65 mph the vehicle went into violent body rolling and shimmy causing the driver to almost lose control. Body was rolling severely, as if the steering wheel was being rocked back and forth, however the steering wheel was steady. Unable to stop body roll until brakes are applied…”

The 1996 Pathfinder had a total of 213 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 3 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

The 1997 Pathfinder had a total of 291 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 7 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Rear end wobbling, rocking, and swaying
  • Windshield wipers stopped working
  • Front end alignment issues
  • Engine compartment fire
  • Transmission failure
  • Suspension sway
1997 Nissan Pathfinder

2017 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2017 Pathfinder had numerous engine-related problems, mostly concerning overheating.

Owners reported premature radiator cooling fan failure, with some having experienced said failure at around the 50,000-mile mark.

This has led to an expense of at least $1,000 which, if integrated into the projected annual maintenance costs of the vehicle, would lead to an extremely high and impractical amount. 

The report below provides a few more details about this common occurrence:

“46,000 miles. Cooling fan wobbling. Fan also making a very loud grinding noise. No visible damage to the fan. Sounds like bad bearing. Noise is present at startup, drive, and idle. Dealer shop said wear and tear.”

The 2017 Pathfinder had a total of 194 problems according to CarProblemZoo.com and 50 complaints at CarComplaints.com.

Common problems:

  • Loud noise from blower fan
  • Transmission hesitates
  • Navigation system not working intermittently
2017 Nissan Pathfinder

Related: 15 Midsize SUVs with the Best Ground Clearance (With Pics)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Model YearComplaints
2023 Nissan Pathfinder41
2022 Nissan Pathfinder2545
2020 Nissan Pathfinder2230
2019 Nissan Pathfinder2692
2018 Nissan Pathfinder6853
2017 Nissan Pathfinder501942
2016 Nissan Pathfinder101062
2015 Nissan Pathfinder913645
2014 Nissan Pathfinder14962312
2013 Nissan Pathfinder2071,08310
2012 Nissan Pathfinder13292
2011 Nissan Pathfinder16511
2010 Nissan Pathfinder22614
2009 Nissan Pathfinder19513
2008 Nissan Pathfinder1314364
2007 Nissan Pathfinder2977751
2006 Nissan Pathfinder3531,1440
2005 Nissan Pathfinder6771,4760
2004 Nissan Pathfinder11842
2003 Nissan Pathfinder121343
2002 Nissan Pathfinder162013
2001 Nissan Pathfinder162962
2000 Nissan Pathfinder61630
1999 Nissan Pathfinder121400
1998 Nissan Pathfinder21860
1997 Nissan Pathfinder72910
1996 Nissan Pathfinder32130

What Problems Do Nissan Pathfinders Have?

  • Coolant leaked into transmission
  • Transmission failed
  • Transmission shakes
  • Transmission slipping
  • Timing chain guides worn out prematurely
  • Transmission will not engage
  • Transmission jerking
  • Transmission slips intermittently
  • Stutters excessively
  • Transmission hesitates
  • Hatch strut mount rusted out

Related: 11 Most Common Nissan Pathfinder Problems (Explained)

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Nissan Pathfinder?

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Jeep Grand Cherokee L8.3$43,035 – $65,710City: 14 – 19 /Highway: 22 – 26
Mazda CX-98.3$38,750 – $48,460City: 20 /Highway: 26
Mazda CX-908.3$39,595 – $59,950City: 23 – 24 /Highway: 28
Honda Passport8.2$41,100 – $46,560City: 19 /Highway: 24
Honda Pilot8.2$35,950 – $52,030City: 18 – 19 /Highway: 23 – 27
Kia Sorento8.1$29,990 – $43,590City: 22 – 24 /Highway: 25 – 29
Jeep Grand Cherokee8.1$41,035 – $63,710City: 14 – 19 /Highway: 22 – 26
Buick Enclave8.1$44,800 – $59,470City: 17 – 18 /Highway: 25 – 26
Volkswagen Atlas8.0$34,460 – $52,340City: 18 – 21 /Highway: 23 – 25
Ford Edge7.9$37,945 – $46,485 City: 19 – 21 /Highway: 25 – 28
Nissan Pathfinder7.9$35,000 – $49,870City: 20 – 21 /Highway: 23 – 27
Subaru Ascent7.9$33,895 – $48195City: 19 – 20 /Highway: 25 – 26

Source: cars.usnews.com, edmunds.com











  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...