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2012 Nissan Pathfinder

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Published on Wed, Mar 21, 2012

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


2012 Nissan Pathfinder LE

The Nissan Pathfinder, as its name suggests, is a pioneer in the segment we now know as the sport utility vehicle. After 25 years, some 1.2 million people have been using the Pathfinder for both everyday use and family adventures. In 2012, the vehicle still sits atop a robust platform based on a Nissan pickup truck. But the current generation Pathfinder has been around for many moons. Does it still hit its mark stride, or has it veered from the path? Zoran Segina reports on the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder LE. THE STAWARTS By Zoran Segina The average price of gas was less than a dollar coming back from the stratospheric height of $1.38 caused by the war between Iran and Iraq. One William Edward Crystal, a talented and promising comic just became a regular on Saturday Night Live, creating earlier a character of Fernando and a legendary phrase “Dahling, you look mahvelous.” It was the time of yuppies, big dreams, and big cars. And Nissan just introduced a new class of sport utility vehicle: The Pathfinder.


In the ensuing quarter of a century, William became Billy—a Hollywood legend. He was so good that the Academy of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked him to host its annual presentation—the Oscars. Billy did that eight times between 1990 and 2004. The Academy tried others, younger, of different color, creed, accent, and sex who, alas, just did not have the same mix of reverence for the institution and insouciance necessary for the job. He left his host duties seemingly permanently in 2004. Billy was fifty-six years old and those who revered his style accepted the fact that they may never see him in this role again. But people like Bob Hope (eighteen time host) and Billy Crystal are not easy to replace. Billy’s brief appearance at the 83rd ceremony in 2011 resulted in a standing ovation. So when Eddie Murphy backed out for the 2012 show, Billy, now sixty-four, was asked to host again. The jokes were of the same variety, the set up was well known, the makeup was little thicker, the spring in the step a bit saggy, but to the old-timers it was nirvana. They knew the routine and enjoyed every familiar minute of it. Critics called the show old-fashioned, but Billy’s appearance brought the viewers back. The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder LE is an automotive embodiment of Billy Crystal as an Oscar host. It was brought to life twenty-five years ago as authentic and rugged body–on-frame vehicle fit for both everyday use and family adventures. A few permutations and over 1.2 million sales later, the Pathfinder is in familiar territory—sitting atop a robust platform based on a Nissan pickup truck.


All in the family

This third-generation version dates back to 2005, and manages to look both brawny and soft, owing to the combination of big wheel arches, wide flares, and softer chrome fascia. The elegant white tails and tuxedo first-class style is evident in the new brilliant silver color, eighteen-inch alloy wheels, roof rack crossbars, a heated front seats with memory, power-adjustable pedals, rear privacy glass, cruise control, wood-grain trim and a navigation system with digital music storage. Add heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, full power accessories, a leather wrapped tilt steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player. Throw in a seven-inch color multi-information display, a rearview camera, a six-disc CD changer and an auxiliary audio jack, automatic headlights, fog lights, running boards, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power moonroof and standard navigation system—and this performer is ready. The dashboard buttons for the audio and climate control look similar, though, and can easily confuse and distract the aging operator. The heart of the act is the 4.0-liter V6 with 266 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque. The power travels to rear wheels by a five speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive available with the turn of a knob. This engine-transmission configuration is sufficient for zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and has the towing capacity of six thousand pounds. While the engine is sufficiently powerful, when pushed to the limit, it emits a straining sound. One can get more performance by selecting manual shifting, but this action pushes the gear selector so far right that it is almost out of grasp. The Pathfinder also comes equipped with a V8 engine.


Inside the cabin, the seating arrangement is just like at the Oscars. The front seats are reasonably comfortable, the second-row passengers are tight, and the standard third-row seat is only for the very small or very agile (think Cirque de Soleil). The ride is competent but stiff. The steering is precise, but maneuvering this beast around town or in heavy traffic requires deft approach and firm hand especially at low speeds. When parking, the rear camera is a welcome relief. A competent stability control system does not change the fact that the Pathfinder is a tall SUV with a very high center of gravity and should not be thrown around corners with too much aggression lest it ends up on its side. With the rear gate open one can fold the 50/50-split third row seats and get about fifty cubic feet of cargo space. On the other hand, opening just the rear privacy glass creates allows for dumping all the small stuff behind the third row seats. With the second-row seats down the Pathfinder offers nearly eighty cubic feet of cargo room. As for fuel economy, even when going gentle on the gas pedal, our combined city-highway consumption remained stubbornly at 14.3 miles per gallon. An internet search found a 2012 Pathfinder with a turbo diesel engine, plenty of torque and combined mpg-rating of twenty-seven. Alas, that one is in Australia. This heavy duty SUV grows on its audience. It is so easy to get used to a commanding view of the traffic from the high perch. One can power through poorly patched LA Streets with abandon not worrying whether the chassis can handle it. Yet, despite the expert make-up, the age shows. The Pathfinder is getting outdated, and a replacement waits in the wings. But many of its fans over the past quarter of a century are left with an uneasy feeling that the new act may not be as good as the old. For more information about Nissan products, go to

MY 08 V8 Pathfinder

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Nissan Pathfinder LE Type: Four-door sport utility vehicle on fully boxed high-strength steel frame Prices: $28,940 (base S model) $32,290 (SV model) $36,280 (Silver Edition) $39,890 (LE model) $42,730 (LE model as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway (4X4) (15/22 4X2) Engine: 4.0-liter V6, with 24 valves and double overhead camshafts Intake and Management: Variable Intake System, Drive by wire throttle Horsepower: 266 hp @ 5600 rpm Torque: 288 pound-feet @ 4000 rpm Transmission: Five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode Drive configuration: All-mode four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case Steering: Engine speed-sensitive power-assisted rack and pinion steering Suspension Front: Independent double-wishbone, stabilizer bar 33.0 mm Rear: Independent double-wishbone, stabilizer bar 25.4 mm Brakes Front: 11.65-inch vented discs with ABS anti-lock, and power assist Rear: 12.12-inch vented discs with ABS anti-lock Four-wheel active brake limited slip differential, vehicle dynamic control Wheels and tires: 18-inch alloy, machine finished with 265/60 R18 BF Goodrich Long Trail T/A® Radial tires, tire pressure monitoring system Dimensions Length: 192.3 inches Width: 72.8 inches Height: 72.0 inches Curb weight: 4,935 pounds Performance: 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds


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