A history of the Nissan Pathfinder
Learn more about the history of Nissan’s Pathfinder 4×4 from design to production.
First produced in 1986, the Nissan Pathfinder has retained its status as one of the most enduring 4×4 models on the world market. Based initially on their compact pick up truck platform, the predecessor to the Nissan Pathfinder was the Nissan Bushmaster. As far as competitors in its class go, the Nissan Pathfinder is a similar model to the Toyota 4 Runner, a mid-sized SUV that was put into production two years before the Pathfinder and followed its Trekker model.
The first generation WD21 series was developed in line with similar models at the time, from the Ford Bronco to the Chevrolet Blazer. Initially, models were made with a two door body but this was revised in 1990 when a four door Pathfinder was released for the American car market. The four door had concealed handles, part of the design to integrate them with the pillar trim and retain the original styling of the two door.
Models in the range initially came with a Nissan VG30i 3.0 L V6 engine or the Nissan Z24i 2.4 L, which were also seen in the Nissan Hardbody automobile. This engine was given a boost in 1990 when the multi point fuel injection system replaced the throttle body injection. Nissan’s new engine was called the VG30E which provided 153 hp and 180 lb-ft torque, offering the motorist a more powerful ride.
From 1996 to 2004, the R50 series ushered in the second generation of the Nissan Pathfinder with a smoother body style and a unibody construction, demonstrating a step forward from their previous body on frame incarnation. Even the engine was given an overhaul, replacing the old with the VG33E which provided improved torque of 196 lb-ft and increased 168 hp.
In 2001 and 2002, further improvements were made with alterations made to the front fascia, interiors and grille. The grilles became more prominent and eye-catching, while the steering wheel was given a redesign.
Third generation R51 series Pathfinders hit the market in 2005 and are available til this day. Based on the Nissan F-Alpha platform and featuring a V6 engine, the Pathfinder is an internationally acclaimed four door SUV. The Nissan Pathfinder is often marketed as the Terrano.