- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Nissan has gone back to a body-on-frame construction for the new-generation Pathfinder. This, the third version of Nissans midsized sport utility vehicle, is stronger, larger and more comfortable. While it moves further upscale, the Pathfinder continues to offer extensive on-road and off-road capabilities.

The newly designed body follows the course set by the full-sized Armada. The familiar Nissan grille sets the scene for the muscular fender bulges, which are stamped into the fender, rather than bolted on as in the past. The powerful stance continues with the shortened hood. Under this hood sits a large 4.0-liter V-6 engine that will surprise you with its performance. Nissan has revamped this V-6 from the previous 3.5-liter engine. That engine has played a very substantial role in Nissan’s resurgence.

The new 4.0-liter engine uses an entirely new block because of the need to lengthen the connecting rods, which increase the horsepower and torque. As I said, you will be surprised at the substantial increase in response and acceleration. In fact, this V-6 produces power equal to many big American V-8 engines. With 265 to 270 horsepower (depending on fuel quality) you can get an idea of the power that is at your beck and call. More importantly, this engine produces a full 291 foot-pounds of torque. This is particularly significant with trucks and SUVs, because they seem to get the lion’s share of heavy-duty work.

Like many of those high-dollar sport utes, the Pathfinder comes equipped with a plethora of features that make life a whole lot simpler, and saves a bit of sticker shock on your wallet. Power gets to the road through a sophisticated five-speed manual transmission. This gear box handles the rigors of highway cruising just as well as it handles the rocks and gullies of an off-road trail.

Other features that make the Pathfinder able to conquer the trails are the advanced off-road traction system available on four-wheel-drive versions. This system not only transfers power to all four wheels, it includes Nissan’s hill-descent control (HDC), hill-start assist (HAS) and limited slip for all four wheels, all of which aids in starting out in slippery situations.

Hill descent control assists in retaining control as it allows the vehicle to ease down steep inclines without the driver having to apply the brakes. In certain situations, applying the brakes can begin a slide that not only can be dangerous, but can get the vehicle in a precarious position.

HDC is only available when the vehicle is in 4Hi or 4Lo and only after the driver turns the system on via a switch on the dash.Hill-start assist, unlike HDC, is always active and assists the driver to easily get under way from a start on hills. As the driver releases the brake pedal, HSA holds the vehicle still, not allowing it to roll down the hill, for about two seconds.

From exterior styling to interior design, the 2005 Pathfinder adds more features that not only make driving comfortable, but also make for easy use both on- and off-road. Although many Pathfinders may never see the dust of an off-road trail, you can feel at ease that if you ever desire to venture into the bush, this vehicle will take you there effortlessly.

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