Best and Worst Years for the Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder started as a small SUV and has gotten bigger over the years. While the Pathfinder is generally a reliable and well-liked SUV, certain model years stand out as the best and worst. 

The best years for the Pathfinder are generally considered to be after 2015, while the worst was between 2005 and 2007. 

Nissan Pathfinder Best and Worst Years

About the Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder is a sport utility vehicle produced by the Japanese automaker Nissan Motors since 1986, originally sharing Nissan’s compact pickup truck platform, and now in its fifth generation. The Pathfinder is marketed as the Terrano outside North America.

The first generation of the Pathfinder was introduced in 1985 as a direct competitor to the Toyota 4Runner and the Isuzu Trooper.

The SUV was initially built on the Nissan Hardbody Truck platform, but it was soon redesigned to be built on a separate body-on-frame chassis. 

The second generation, introduced in 1995, was similar in size to the first generation but featured a more modern design.

Finally, the third generation, introduced in 2005, was significantly larger than its predecessors and was built on a unibody chassis. 

The fourth generation, introduced in 2012, returned to a body-on-frame design and was once again smaller than the previous generation.

The latest, the fifth generation, uses the same body-on-frame design as the fourth and has significant design improvements and added standard features like a wireless charging pad.

Is the Nissan Pathfinder a Reliable Car?

The Nissan Pathfinder has met its challenges in the past with reliability but has made up for it in recent production years. Many features make the Nissan Pathfinder a reliable car. 

First, it is built with a strong and durable frame. Second, it has a powerful engine that can handle a variety of terrain and conditions.

In addition, it also has a comfortable and spacious interior. Finally, it has various safety features that help protect occupants in an accident.

Nissan Pathfinder Longevity

The Nissan Pathfinder typically lasts around ten years with regular maintenance. Contributing factors to the longevity of the Nissan Pathfinder include its reliability and build quality.

Nissan offers a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Nissan also offers an additional warrant to cover all of its Continuous Variable Transmissions (CVT). The CVT warranty is a 10-year/120,000-mile warranty that covers the CVT from major breakdowns and defects.

This warrant comes as a response to the widespread issues the Nissan CVT were known to have during the late 2000s.

Common Nissan Pathfinder Problems

As with any vehicle, the Nissan Pathfinder has had its share of common problems. These include issues with the engine, transmission, and brakes.

While you can get some of these problems fixed relatively quickly and inexpensively, others may require more extensive repairs.

Coolant Leaking into Transmission

Pathfinder owners who owned model years 2005 to 2010 experienced issues with their radiators leaking coolant into the transmission. 

The radiators would burst, and the coolant would mix with the transmission fluid, creating a “strawberry milkshake,” which would cause major damage to engine components like seals and values.

Sunroof Issues

The Pathfinder is among Nissan vehicles where the sunroof can explode due to an issue with the tempered glass the sunroofs are made with. Model years 2013 and 2014 are affected for the Pathfinder. A class-action suit was filed to address the concern.

Electrical Problems

The Pathfinder has many electrical components, with a few components that are known for having issues. Among them is the alternator, known for going out, causing immediate engine stalling while driving. Model years 2011, 2012, and 2013 were affected.

Anti-Lock Brake Problems

Nissan recalled model years 2016 and 2020 for leaking brakes. This significant safety issue affected over 200,000 vehicles. Although Nissan fixes this issue at no cost, it is likely that used models will not have been fixed and will still have this problem. 

Nissan Pathfinder Years to Avoid

Although Nissan’s vehicles improved in quality, they still had models on this list of model years you should avoid. Nissan manufactured most of them before 2010.


The 1999 Pathfinder model year is a part of the second generation. The most common problems with the 1999 Nissan Pathfinder were with the electrical system, fuel system, and transmission.


The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is the first model of the Pathfinder’s third generation. This model year through 2007 faced serious issues with the radiator leaking coolant into the transmission. These also faced issues with the fuel system. The fuel gauge would read incorrectly, and the fuel pump was known to fail. 


Nissan continued to struggle to fix issues that the introduction of the third generation brought. 2007 continued to see trouble with the transmission. The issues with the fuel system continue, as well, specifically with the system causing the engine light to appear due to a faulty fuel sensor. 


Loss of power and suspended acceleration are common issues found in the 2013 model year. In addition, a starter relay defect can cause some Pathfinders from this year to not start. 

The 2013 Pathfinder also has oil overconsumption issues which can be a symptom of its poor acceleration and stalling issues.  

Nissan Pathfinder Best and Worst Years

What Are the Best Years for the Nissan Pathfinder?

Although the Pathfinder has had its share of complaints and issues over its 35-year reign, it has remained a popular choice among SUV drivers. So a few years of the Nissan Pathfinder are worth the buy.

Model Years 2021-2023

Model years after 2021 have had no major problems. The Pathfinder received a design overhaul and other performance improvements that have improved its reliability. In addition, this generation made many features standard features, making it a top buy. 

The year 2021 is well-received because of its technical features and significant improvements in the suspension. The fifth generation sees a reduction in annual maintenance costs. The 2022 Pathfinder costs less than $600 a year to maintain. 

Model Year 2017

The reliability features of the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder include the following:

  • Robust body-on-frame construction
  • A powerful V6 engine
  • A well-designed suspension system

These features combine to provide a vehicle capable of tackling rugged off-road terrain while providing a comfortable and composed ride on the highway.

Model Year 2016

Four years into the fourth generation, the model year 2016 for the Nissan pathfinder sees issues from 2013 corrected.

Some new features for the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder include a revised front grille and bumper, new LED daytime running lights, a new rear spoiler, and updated interior trim. 

There are also new available features, such as a power panoramic moonroof, an Around-View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, and an updated NissanConnect infotainment system with smartphone integration.

Model Years 2009 – 2012

While the third generation Pathfinder experienced a lot of complaints and problems with the first four model years, the years 2009 through 2012 received very little. 

These used model years are the best to buy because Nissan addressed the issues from the 2005 model. The Pathfinder also gets new standard features like 18-inch wheels and side curtain airbags with these years.

Nissan Pathfinder Pros and Cons Summary

AffordabilityPoor Fuel Economy
Off-Road CapabilityLackluster Acceleration
Roomy InteriorBumpy Ride for Older Models
Tuned-Up Suspension Added

Is the Nissan Pathfinder a Good Car?

The Nissan Pathfinder is a good car because it is versatile. You can use it for off-road driving, hauling cargo, or towing a trailer. It is also comfortable and has many features that make it a great family vehicle. 

It has a spacious interior with plenty of room for passengers and cargo, a comfortable ride, and a variety of available safety and security features.

Nissan Pathfinder Alternatives 2022

  • Honda Pilot: The Honda Pilot is a very popular SUV and one of the Nissan Pathfinder’s main competitors. It has a similar body style and is just as reliable.
  • Toyota Highlander: The Toyota Highlander is another excellent alternative to the Nissan Pathfinder because it is just as spacious and has a comfortable ride.
  • Ford Explorer: The Ford Explorer is another good choice against the Nissan Pathfinder because it has a powerful and versatile engine.
  • Chevrolet Traverse: The Chevrolet Traverse is a good alternative to the Nissan Pathfinder because it has a lot of cargo space and is very safe.

Nissan Pathfinder FAQs

Here is a list of the most commonly asked questions regarding the Nissan Pathfinder.

Is Nissan discontinuing the Pathfinder?

Nissan has not discontinued the Pathfinder; it is still in production as of 2022. The Pathfinder is in the fifth generation. The model year 2023 has just been revealed for purchase. The fifth generation remains the only Pathfinder generation with the least issues. 

Does a Nissan Pathfinder hold its value?

Nissan Pathfinders hold their value very well. There is always a demand for them on the used car market because of their popularity. It depreciates approximately 30% in the first five years. 

Is there a recall on Nissan Pathfinder transmission?

There are no current recalls for the Pathfinder’s transmission. However, a recall for the 2005 model year affected over 200,000 vehicles. The Pathfinder has been recalled more than forty times, with the model years 2002 and 2012 having had the most recalls.

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Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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