Since 1986, Nissan Motors has been producing its SUV called the Pathfinder. It is based on the Nissan’s compact pickup truck platform. As for size, the Pathfinder is placed between the Murano and Armada or Patrol. As far as pricing is concerned, it is slotted between Xterra and Murano. In Japan, the Pathfinder has a competition with Toyota 4Runner.
First Generation WD21 Series (1986.5–1995)
Two different versions were offered in North America for the first generation Pathfinder. Majority of the styling features and equipments used in Pathfinder were taken from the Nissan Hardbody Truck. It was based on a ladder-type frame and was designed to compete with the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Bronco, Jeep Cherokee and some non-American SUVs such as Toyota 4Runner, Isuzu Trooper and Mitsubishi Montero. The first generation Pathfinder was offered both as two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The Pathfinder was offered in 2-door body from 1986 to 1989 in United States followed by a 4-door version in 1990. The Pathfinder took over an aftermarket conversion model of the Datsun Truck, called the Nissan Bushmaster.
Between 1986 to 1989, the Nissan Pathfinder came with two engine options including: Nissan VG30i 3.0-L V6 engine delivering 145 hp (108 kW) and torque of 180 lb-ft (244 Nm) and Nissan Z24i 2.4-L I4 engine, generating 106 hp (79 kW). Nissan upgraded its V6 engine and introduced a multi-point fuel injection system in place of throttle body injection. The upgraded V6 engine was called the VG30E, generating 153 hp (114 kW) and torque of 180 lb-ft (244 Nm). The Z24i was also replaced with KA24E in 1990. There were many countries that received the first generation Pathfinder with a 2.7-L I4 Diesel engine called the TD27. It was offered with an optional turbocharger.
It was facelifted in 1990, when Nissan introduced 4-door version of Pathfinder.
Second Generation R50 Series (1996–2004)
In 1996, the second generation Pathfinder was launched designated as R50 series. It was an entirely renewed Pathfinder that was based on unibody construction rather than using the frame construction. The second generation Pathfinder was not only redesigned, but it also received an upgraded engine, VG33E capable of delivering 168 hp (125 kW) and torque of 196 lb-ft (266 Nm). The 1999 model received some minor changes, while the 2001 model was introduced with a new VQ35DE V6 engine generating 240 hp (179 kW). The facelift model of second generation Pathfinder was slightly larger that paved the way for compact Xterra.
The Pathfinder was offered with a range of diesel engines in Japanese and European markets. Starting for 2002 model year, the Pathfinder/Terrano is no longer offered in Japan. However, it is still offered in North America, Europe and Middle East.
The second generation Pathfinder faced two major problems during its run from 1994 to 2004, i.e. rear bushing problem and strut housing rust problem.
Third Generation R51 Series (2005–Present)
The third generation Pathfinder was revealed by Nissan Motors at the New York International Auto Show in 2004. This current generation of Pathfinder is based on Nissan F-Alpha platform and receives either a 4.0-L VQ40DE V6 engine delivering 266 hp (198 kW) and torque if 288 lb-ft (390 Nm) or a 2.5-L YD25DDTi Turbo Diesel engine generating 174 hp (130 kW) and torque of 297 lb-ft (403 Nm).
A full-sized SUV, the Pathfinder Armada was introduced in 2003. Though, it shared its name with current Pathfinder, both based on different platforms. In 2005, the Pathfinder part was discontinued leaving only Armada.
Outside North American, the Pathfinder is marketed under the Terrano name. However, when the third generation Pathfinder launched in 2005 as an entirely new model, the Pathfinder name became standard all over the world.
It was in 2005, when a third row seats were introduced for the first time in Pathfinder. The Pathfinder has suffered for its frequent coolant leaks that effect the transmission badly.
In 2008, the Pathfinder was facelifted for the US and Middle East markets, while Europe, South America, Asia/Oceania and the Caribbean received their facelifted Pathfinder in 2010.