Vehicle Overview
For the 2005 model year, the redesigned 2005 Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle is based on a new platform and features a 4.0-liter V-6 engine and three rows of seats. Larger than its predecessor, the third-generation Pathfinder debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.

Built with body-on-frame construction, the Pathfinder has a fully independent double-wishbone suspension. The SUV may have rear-wheel drive or All-Mode four-wheel drive, which includes automatic and Low-range modes. The new Pathfinder is more powerful than its predecessor. All Pathfinder models now have a five-speed-automatic transmission. The four-wheel-drive SE Off-Road model features Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist.

To ease confusion, Nissan drops the "Pathfinder" prefix from its larger SUV — initially badged as the Pathfinder Armada — in the 2005 model year. Pathfinders come in four trim levels: value-priced XE, SE, SE Off-Road and top-of-the-line LE.

The redesigned Pathfinder's styling is considered an evolution of the previous version, with short overhangs and pronounced fender flares. The rear door handles are mounted vertically on the C-pillars, and the SUV has an integrated front bumper. The Pathfinder's grille design is similar to the Armada's, and its platform is derived from that SUV too. The roof rack has been revised, and the tailgate's glass window flips up. Running boards, heated mirrors and a sunroof are optional.

Built on a longer, 112.2-inch wheelbase, the 2005 Pathfinder is 187.6 inches long overall and stands as tall as 70.1 inches, not counting the roof rack. Performance-type shock absorbers are available on the Off-Road model. Tires up to 17 inches in diameter may be mounted on the Pathfinder.

Seven-passenger seating includes split, folding second- and third-row seats. The front passenger seat also folds. The second-row seat is split 40/20/40 and has a one-touch release lever for third-row access.

The 50/50-split third-row seat folds into the floor with the head restraints in place. Eight utility hooks are installed in the rear cargo area, and storage is provided under the middle-row seats. A wood-toned interior is optional.

Options include leather-appointed power heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, XM or Sirius Satellite Radio, a DVD-based navigation system, DVD-based video entertainment, and a Bose audio system with a six-CD changer and MP3 playback capability.

Under the Hood
A new 4.0-liter V-6 engine produces 270 horsepower and 291 pounds-feet of torque. Operating with electronic throttle control, the V-6 features Continuous Valve Timing Control. All Pathfinders have a five-speed-automatic transmission. The Pathfinder can be equipped to tow up to 6,000 pounds. A tow-hitch receiver is standard.

All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist are standard. Side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags that protect outboard occupants in all three rows are available. Vehicle Dynamic Control and a tire-pressure monitor are standard.

Driving Impressions
The Pathfinder performs capably on the highway and in the wilderness. It is quiet while cruising and emits a slight truck-type drone. Its engine snarls a bit during hard acceleration.

A four-wheel-drive Pathfinder maneuvers smartly through challenging offroad obstacles. Nissan's Hill Descent Control works with amazing expertise to control the SUV's speed during downhill runs. Hill Start Assist can also be helpful.

The ride is easygoing on smooth roads, but even small bumps are noticed. The driver might notice just a touch of wander on some curvy routes, but the Pathfinder is an easy SUV to drive. Entry and exit isn't too difficult, and you don't feel like you're climbing up into the Pathfinder. The seats offer good support, and the seat bottoms are short but well cushioned.