4 Best & Worst Nissan Pathfinder Years (Stats & Examples)

The Nissan Pathfinder is one of the most popular mid-sized SUVs on the market since its original debut in 1985.

Since 1985, the Pathfinder has come a long way in terms of:

  • power,
  • performance,
  • and forward-thinking technologies.

Although in the past, the Nissan Pathfinder (along with other Nissan vehicles) struggled to maintain a positive reputation, newer models of the Pathfinder are sure to impress.

Knowing the best and worst years for the Nissan Pathfinder can help you to find the model that is just right for you and your towing or travel needs.

The best and worst years for Nissan Pathfinder are:

Choosing just one year in which the Nissan Pathfinder is the best is difficult, as there are at least two in modern years — 2017 and 2019.

Overall, the most notable model of the Nissan Pathfinder is the 2017 release, which has the fewest problems and the most praise from both manufacturers and consumers alike.

Unfortunately, however, there is not an extensive review of ratings for the Nissan Pathfinder when it comes to the reliability of the vehicle itself.

Even the third generation of the Nissan Pathfinder is missing some of the most important and fundamental ratings that are typically provided in Consumer Reports magazine.

Altogether, there are a total of five generations of the Nissan Pathfinder that began in 1985 and continues until the present day.

When it comes to the worst years for the Nissan Pathfinder, most of the models fall within the third generation, or between 2005 and 2012.

When researching the Nissan Pathfinder, the 2005 model seems to have the worst reputation overall.

The 2005 model of the Nissan Pathfinder also has the most consumer complaints of all Pathfinder models on the market.

What Nissan Pathfinder years are the most reliable?

You may want to start by reading how long do the Nissan Pathfinder last?

2017 Nissan Pathfinder

One of the most notable models of the Nissan Pathfinder is the 2017 model, which received substantial updates and upgrades from its previous release.

The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder has received the fewest consumer complaints out of all of the models of the Nissan Pathfinder since its initial release in 1985.

Additional features that help the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder stand out among alternative models include:

  • Robust towing capacity with towing capability of up to 6,000 lbs in total
  • Easily accessible third-row seating, making this model ideal for those with children or additional storage in tow
  • Upgrade V6 engine with fuel efficiency for environmentally-conscious drivers
  • V6 engine which produces an additional 24 more HP (horsepower) along with 19 more lbs-ft. of torque, providing a significant and noticeable difference in terms of power from its predecessor.
  • Available in multiple trims: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. Additional all-wheel drive is also available in the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder models.

The 2017 Nissan Pathfinder scored a solid 5/5 stars for crash protection when it came to official government testing, which is another reason it is our #1 pick on the list of most reliable Pathfinder models.

2019 Nissan Pathfinder

Along with the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder, the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder model also makes this list of the most reliable Pathfinders.

Although there have not been significant engine upgrades to the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder from 2017, there have been additional technologies that have since been implemented, including:

Automatic Emergency Braking:
Automatic Emergency Braking, or AEB, has been introduced into the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder along with rear and braking sensors (included with all trims of the 2019 model).

USB-C Ports:
USB-C ports are standard on all 2019 Nissan Pathfinder trims, providing more connectivity when you need it most.

Driver Aid Technologies:
Additional driver aid technologies are included in all trims but Base level trims of the 2019 Nissan Pathfinder.

The 2019 Nissan Pathfinder scored 6.8 on Edmunds.com.

What Nissan Pathfinder years should you avoid?

Finding the right mid-sized SUV requires more than great fuel efficiency and adequate seating.

If you want to find a Nissan Pathfinder that is safe for your entire family, it is important to know which Pathfinder years to avoid.

To begin, this list will not cover Nissan Pathfinder models that came before the third generation, or between 2005 and 2012.

Nissan Pathfinders that were manufactured before the start of the third generation (2005), do not hold up to today’s safety standards and should not be purchased if you are searching for protection behind the wheel.

You should avoid all models of the Nissan Pathfinder that were created before 2005.

In addition to steering clear of the Nissan Pathfinder before 2005, it is also best to steer clear of all 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 models of the Nissan Pathfinder for safety and reliability purposes.

In particular, the 2005 model of the Nissan Pathfinder seems to stand out as one of the worst modern makes of the mid-sized SUV.

2005 Nissan Pathfinder

The most notable Nissan Pathfinder to avoid, according to both expert reviews as well as customer complaints, is the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder. Not only does the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder rank low on the list of safety features and performance, but its owners report a myriad of issues that range from transmission trouble to coolant leaks into the transmission itself.

Typically, drivers of the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder report coolant leaks into their transmissions at around 90,000 miles, which can occur in less than a year of owning the vehicle.

On average, the cost to repair the coolant leak into the transmission is approximately $3,500, which can be a significant investment for most owners.

To recap, a few reasons why the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder should be avoided by those in the market for a mid-sized SUV include:

Lack of safety features:
Without advanced safety features, this 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is one of the worst in its class.

Transmission issues:
More often than not, owners of the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder will experience transmission issues with their vehicles at some point or another.

It is noted that 2005 Nissan Pathfinder owners typically experience a coolant leak into the transmission at around 90,000 miles.

In most cases, this costly repair can cost upwards of $3,200.

Fuel system issues:
Fuel pump failures and the gas gauge reading incorrectly are not uncommon issues with the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder.

Additionally, the fuel door may open unexpectedly, causing a loss of fuel, which can add up in cost.

Altogether, repairing the fuel system on the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder will cost owners approximately $530 for a base repair job.

Engine trouble:
In addition to transmission and fuel issues, it is not uncommon for owners of the Nissan Pathfinder to experience some form of engine trouble.

Engines that stall or shut down may be caused due to the chain tension failing as well as the engine failing to turn over and start on its own.

Engine problems of any kind can cost thousands of dollars to repair, which is why it is best to steer clear of the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder if you are in the market for a new or used mid-sized SUV.

Drivetrain issues:
In numerous reports, drivers report that the engine of the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder accelerates unexpectedly and unintentionally, resulting in an accident and/or injury.

Additionally, the powertrain and drivetrain issues involve:

  • a focus on the u-joint failure,
  • driveshaft,
  • and front differential failures.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder

While the 2006-2012 models of the Nissan Pathfinder faced their own individual issues, the 2013 Pathfinder found itself with significant problems with its transmission and engine.

New owners of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder began lodging complaints early on in their ownership due to transmission issues and acceleration problems anytime they were driving between 15 and 30 MPH.

Drivers reported that the wheel of the vehicle and the transmission of the Pathfinder itself would shake uncontrollably and unexpectedly while driving, even when driving slowly between 15 and 30 MPH.

Drivers also reported that transmission problems occurred in the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder even at relatively low mileage, prompting thousands of complaints.

Some of the most notable complaints lodged about the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder include:

  • Transmission issues: Transmission jerking, transmission failing to engage, transmission slipping intermittently, transmission shifter getting stuck in park, and the transmission shifter slipping out of park are the most common complaints attached to the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.
  • Engine problems: Suspended acceleration, engine stalling and/or shutting off while driving, excessive oil consumption, loss of power, and engine shuddering were all common complaints lodged by owners of both new and used 2013 Nissan Pathfinder SUVs.
  • Interior issues: Surprisingly, the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is also notorious for its consumer complaints regarding its interior issues. Interior issues ranging from the sun visor falling down to the interior door handles breaking make this Pathfinder one of the very worst models to be released.
  • Seat belts/airbag troubles: The adult passenger airbag of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder is known to not deploy properly after an accident or collision. Additionally, airbag lights are known to malfunction and seatbelts may break if not properly inspected before purchase.
  • AC/Heating: The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has also received numerous complaints regarding its AC/heating system. Many owners of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder complain of the A/C blowing out hot air or producing a foul-smelling odor whenever it is in use. Additionally, the back of the air conditioner of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder tends to rust prematurely, while the defrost settings of this Pathfinder may also fail to work properly. Users report that the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder fan is much louder than other models on the market.
  • Electrical issues: Electrical issues are not uncommon, with rear hatch sensor failures and damaged batteries being among the top reported electrical problems with the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. Additional electrical issues include display errors with built-in navigation and a lack of rear-heated seats (which are to be included with all trims).

What are some typical problems with the Nissan Pathfinder models?

We have a full list of problems with the Nissan Pathfinders here.

Coolant Leaked Into the Transmission (2005 Nissan Pathfinder)

The #1 reported issue from CarComplaints regarding the Nissan Pathfinder falls on the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder, where most complaints were lodged.

The biggest complaint reported about the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder was that coolant was discovered leaking in the transmission.

Coolant Leaked Into the Transmission (2006 Nissan Pathfinder)

Along the same lines as the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder, the 2006 Nissan Pathfinder received a similar number of complaints regarding coolant leaks being discovered in the vehicle’s transmission.

Transmission Failing to Engage

In a number of models (especially 2005 and 2013), there are numerous complaints regarding the Pathfinder transmission’s inability to engage.

In other cases, the transmission was reported to rev and accelerate unexpectedly even when it was not engaged, resulting in accidents and/or injuries.

Worn Timing Chain Guides

In some models, such as the 2006 Pathfinder, worn timing chains are also a common issue, which can cost around $1,800 to repair for each issue that is encountered.


Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)