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Best & Worst Years of Nissan Pathfinder – Graphs & Owner Surveys

The best years of the Nissan Pathfinder are 2007, 2010-2013, 2014-2015, 2016-2017, and 2018-2020. The years you should absolutely avoid are 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005-2006, and 2008-2009. The major issues are the catalytic converter, while some years report problems with the mass air flow sensor. 

New Nissan Pathfinder parked in a suburbia street.

The Nissan Pathfinder is a mid-size SUV popular for its advanced safety features, trusted reliability, and comfortable driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2023 Pathfinder the Top Safety+ rating. First introduced as a compact SUV in 1986, it transitioned into a mid-size SUV when it started offering a third row in the 2005 model. 

While it is a popular family vehicle with ample cargo space, there are good and bad years. Using our unique data regarding reliability, we have listed the best and worst years of the Nissan Pathfinder and included the most important information in this table. We then give a detailed analysis of our sources before diving into specific details about each model year of the Pathfinder.

Best Years Why? Worst Years Why?

High-reliability scores, excellent safety ratings, low number of DTCs and recalls

>> See 2018-2020 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


Low value, annual repair costs almost as much as the car is worth

>> See 2001 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


High-reliability scores, good safety ratings, low cost of maintenance

>> See 2016-2017 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


Low safety rating, miles per gallon, catalytic converter problems, and low FIXD Reliability Score.

>> See 2003 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


Improved fuel efficiency due to CVT, high reliability scores, good reliability

>> See 2013-2015 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


High maintenance and repair costs, low reliability, catalytic converter issues 

>> See 2008-2009 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


Great Owner Reliability Score, low number of recalls, ample storage space

>> See 2007 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


An extremely high number of NHTSA complaints, high repair costs

>> See 2005-2006 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


Great reliability scores, low number of serious DTCs

>> See 2010-2012 Nissan Pathfinders for sale


Low Reliability, high average mileage, high cost of ownership

>> See 2004 Nissan Pathfinders for sale

Nissan Pathfinder Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings, MPG, and Value v.s. Maintenance & Repair Costs – Year by Year

We used exclusive data from FIXD app sensors, owner surveys, and public data sources to rank the best and worst years of the Nissan Pathfinder. The biggest influence comes from two reliability scores: FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score.

The FIXD Reliability Score comes from analyzing data from FIXD app sensors installed in Nissan Pathfinders, while the Owner Reliability Score is created based on answers from owner surveys.

We used public safety data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fuel information from fueleconomy.gov, and market value from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) to create visual graphs and add additional factors to our ranking. We also plotted annual maintenance and repair costs reported on owner surveys. 

Lastly, we reviewed the most common diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and safety recalls affecting each year before listing the best and worst years of the Nissan Pathfinder. 

If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair cars in the U.S. Don’t get stuck with a lemon, use our data to help you shop.

Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years

Nissan Pathfinder Reliability Score

Reliability is the most important factor we considered while listing the best and worst years of the Nissan Pathfinder. We’ve devised two unique scores using our exclusive data, making it easy to compare. Both scores use the same scale: 1 is the lowest, 5 is the average, and 10 is the highest level.

The first score is the FIXD Reliability Score, represented by the green line on the graph. We calculated this score by tracking the number of check engine lights (CEL) reported by our app users and dividing it by the number of cars. We then weighted the score based on an average of 12,000 miles driven annually.

The second score, the Owner Reliability Score (gray line), comes from surveys taken by Nissan Pathfinder owners. These surveys capture their firsthand experience and provide subjective opinions on reliability. We translated these responses into numerical scores. For more details on the question asked and our methodology for determining this score, please refer to the note about data and information section located at the bottom of this article.

The reliability of the Nissan Pathfinder increases with more recent models, which is a common trend. However, years like 2017 and 2019 have a dip in FIXD Reliability Score due to more check engine lights (CELs) triggered in those years. 

Another common trend is that the first year of a new generation has lower reliability. This happens when new features or technology create new problems and issues. You can see this in the Nissan Pathfinder in 2005, when the third generation started, and again in 2008 when that generation got a facelift. 

You’ll also notice the Owner Reliability Score is usually higher than the FIXD Reliability Score. This is especially prominent in 2005-2006 and 2008-2009, where the FIXD Reliability Score is the lowest possible of 1/10, while the Owner Reliability Score stayed well above average. 

A car’s reliability is often worse than an owner might want to believe. We hypothesize that owners of older models slowly become accepting of higher-than-average check engine lights being thrown because they have owned the car for a long time. They are either a frog in a pot of boiling water, not realizing the car is deteriorating slowly and getting worse. OR they simply haven’t compared the reliability of their older model to the often newer and more reliable models of today. 

Loyalty to an older vehicle may also affect the Owner Reliability Scores. If a car has lasted 20 years, it would be immensely reliable in the owner’s eyes, even if it had to have repairs and triggered many CELs along the way. 

There are also two years (2010 and 2020) where the Owner Reliability Score is lower than the FIXD Reliability Score. This could occur if the reliability issues an owner is experiencing are unrelated to the engine since the FIXD Reliability Score only records DTCs that are engine-related. You can look at our article about the most common Nissan check engine lights for more information. 

It is also important to note that we don’t have enough data to include the 2002 Nissan Pathfinder in our analysis. 

NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years

Nissan Pathfinder NHTSA Safety Rating

We looked in-depth at Nissan Pathfinder’s safety ratings according to the NHTSA to compare the best and worst. The green line is the safety rating of the Nissan Pathfinder, while the grey line represents the average of all vehicles we have NHTSA data. 

While newer years score above the industry average, safety ratings have not always been favorable for the Nissan Pathfinder. Every year since 2013 has scored above the average of all vehicles, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars in 2014-2020.

On the other hand, older models mostly scored lower than the auto industry average, with 2011-2012 being significantly low at an abysmal 3 out of 5 stars. 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2010 scored below 4 stars, but 2004 claims victory as the highest-rated Pathfinder with a perfect 5/5. 

Low safety ratings are one of the reasons most of the older models ended up on our worst list. It is also important to note that low safety ratings can result in higher insurance premiums, while high safety ratings can help you get cheaper car insurance

If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours. 

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:
North Carolina
New York

MPG – Over The Years

Nissan Pathfinder Average MPG

We graphed the average miles per gallon of the Nissan Pathfinder found from fueleconomy.gov. We plotted it as a green line. The gray line is the miles per gallon of the hybrid Nissan Pathfinder offered in 2014-2015. 

The early years don’t perform well in fuel efficiency, averaging 15-17 miles per gallon between 2001-2012. A switch from a 5-speed transmission to a continuously variable transmission significantly increased the fourth-generation Pathfinder’s fuel economy, averaging 22 mpg. 

Third-row SUVs aren’t the way to go if you’re looking for overall fuel efficiency, but the Pathfinder is comparable to other mid-size SUVs, such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, or the Jeep Grand Cherokee

Current Market Value of All Nissan Pathfinder Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each

Nissan Pathfinder Market Value Vs Cost of Repairs

We graphed the market value according to KBB.com, represented by the green line above. The gray line represents the average costs of maintenance and repairs reported by owners. Typically a vehicle loses value as it ages, which is the overall trend of the Pathfinder. However, there are multiple instances in this Nissan where the older year has a higher market value than the following year (or three in the case of 2009). This is due to a higher reported mileage in the newer model years. The average miles reported for a 2009 Pathfinder are 91,667, while 2010, 2011, and 2012 all have over 150,000 miles. High mileage is inversely related to the market value of the vehicle. 

Annual repair and maintenance costs are steep overall for Pathfinder, especially in older years. The average across all years is $668, while the highest reported for the 2001 Pathfinder is $1,500. 2008 and 2012 also hit a thousand dollars of annual costs, at $1,250 and $1,000, respectively. The lowest maintenance cost is $250, which only occurs for the 2018 Pathfinder. 

When shopping for a used Nissan Pathfinder, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!

Important Features Timeline

Nissan Pathfinder Timeline of Important Features

1996: Introduction of the 2nd generation Pathfinder, brand new styling 

1997: Bose stereo available, door pockets added

1998: Chrome bumpers added to XE trim; Sierra Silver is a new exterior color

1999: Body color fender flares added to LE trim

2000: Increased engine horsepower, a wide variety of exterior colors available

2001: Debut of a new 250-horsepower V6

2002: New front grille and steering wheel

2003: Optional satellite radio, LE trim gets leather interior

2004: LE models are renamed Platinum Edition, gain electroluminescent gauges and platinum color wheels

2005: Introduction of 3rd generation, third-row seating offered for the first time

2006: 6-disc CD changer added to SE Comfort Package 

2007: Auto up/down power windows added to the passenger side, MP3 input jack added

2008: Mid-generation upgrade, V8 engine available for first time 

2009: Only minor updates after last year’s overhaul

2010: Trim levels are reorganized with many technology updates available

2011: 25th anniversary Silver Edition is offered

2012: Navigation system is standard in LE trim

2013: Complete redesign for 4th generation, new unibody platform

2014: Hybrid model introduced

2015: New safety features such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert added to SL and Platinum trims

2016: Heated steering wheel standard on SL trim

2017: New 3.5-liter V6 engine increases power and towing capacity

2018: Introduction of Midnight Edition package. Introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2019: USB-C ports available for front and rear passengers

2020: No significant changes from the previous year

2021: Skipped the 2021 model year to focus on the next generation’s 2022 model 

2022: Complete redesign for 5th generation, improved powertrain, and better fuel economy

The Best Years of the Nissan Pathfinder

Black Nissan Pathfinder SUV in motion

The best years of the Nissan Pathfinder are listed from best to worst. Our main criteria are the FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score. After that, we look at safety ratings, fuel economy, DTCs, and safety recall information issued by the NHTSA. 

2018-2020 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 7-10/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8-10/10

KBB Value: $14,253-$22,640

Fuel Economy: 22 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$417

Safety Rating:4.6/5

The 2018-2020 Nissan Pathfinder tops our list of the best due to its high-reliability scores, great miles per gallon, and excellent safety ratings. 

Both the FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score clock in at a perfect 10/10 for the 2018 Pathfinder, meaning there are a low number of DTCs, and customers are happy with their experience of owning this Pathfinder. 

The FIXD Reliability Score for 2019 drops to 7/10, but the Owner Reliability Score is 9/10. 2020 Pathfinder has another perfect FIXD Score (10/10), while the Owner Reliability Score drops to 8/10. This indicates the reliability issues with the 2020 Pathfinder are unrelated to the engine codes recorded by the FIXD app. 

The 2018-2020 Pathfinder scored 4.6 out of 5 stars on its crash safety rating, making it one of the best scores across all Pathfinders. It is also comparable to the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse, which scored the same 4.6 out of 5 in the 2018-2020 model. 

The annual cost of repair and maintenance is only $250 for the 2018 Pathfinder, making it the lowest of all model years. This amount is significantly lower than the average of $668. Only 67% of owners reported paying over $500 for a repair, much less than the average of 90%. 

2019 and 2020 Pathfinders also have low maintenance costs, at $350 and $417. However, 86% of 2019 and 100% of 2020 owners reported paying over $500 for a single repair. 33% of the time in the 2020 model, this repair is related to the brakes, which could explain the lower owner reliability score. 

The most common DTC for the 2018 Pathfinder is Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit/Performance Malfunction, P0101. This code is fixed by replacing the mass air flow sensor, which costs between $172-$309. The second most common code is P0420, Catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Bank 1). P0420 often means you need a better catalytic converter, and replacing it could cost between $1,538 and $2,041. The third most common code is random multiple misfires, P0300. P0300 could be solved by replacing ignition coils ($230-$640) or spark plugs ($66-$250). 

The first two most common DTCs for the 2019 Pathfinder are P0101 and P0300, the same mass air flow sensor and random multiple misfires as in 2018. It also regularly recorded P0430, another indication of a bad catalytic converter and potentially requiring a replacement. 

The 2020 Pathfinder triggers P0300 regularly but also has a common P0014, Exhaust Camshaft Timing Over-Advanced Bank 1. This code is severe and is usually related to oil issues. If it just needs an oil change, it could cost $20-$60, but an oil control valve might cost between $300-$400. Worst case scenario, the engine gets replaced, costing $3,000-$4,000. 

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder only has three recalls and 55 complaints. However, two recalls are due to brake fluid leaking on the circuit board. This issue is urgent and could potentially start a fire. 

2019 Pathfinder has two recalls and 42 complaints, with the same urgent fire hazard as 2018. At the time of writing, the 2020 Pathfinder has no recalls and only seventeen complaints. 

2016-2017 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 8-9/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9-10/10

KBB Value: $10,225-$15,371

Fuel Economy: 22 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $417-$438

Safety Rating: 4.6/5

The 2016-2017 Nissan Pathfinder is the next best option if you shop for a used SUV in the Nissan lineup. It once again has low ownership costs and high safety ratings. 

The FIXD Reliability Score went from 9/10 in 2016 to 8/10 in 2017. The slight decrease could be related to new issues with the new 3.5-liter V6 introduced in 2017 before they dialed it in for the 2018 model year. The Owner Reliability Scores do the opposite dance, going from 9/10 in 2016 to a perfect 10/10 in 2017. 

The Nissan Pathfinder’s primary reported use is as a family vehicle, so crash test ratings are essential when shopping for a used vehicle. 2016-2017 Pathfinder can put your mind at ease, scoring an excellent 4.6 out of 5 stars, better than the industry average for these years. 

Annual maintenance and repair costs are over $200 less than the average of $668 for these Pathfinders.  2016 only requires $417 annually, while 2017 needs $438. 

A common DTC for 2016 and 2017 is P0101 or Mass Air Flow (MAF) Circuit/Performance Malfunction. Replacing the mass air flow sensor costs $172-$309. 

The 2016 Pathfinder’s second most common code is P17F1, a continuously variable transmission issue that could cost $2,528-$3,045. The third most common code is P0174; Bank 2 has too much air or insufficient fuel. P0174 usually indicates a vacuum leak, which might cost $100-$200. However, it might also be related to the mass air flow sensor code listed previously. 

2017 Nissan Pathfinder adds DTC P0300, which is a random multiple misfires. The most common fix is new spark plugs at $66-$250. Lastly, P0017 appeared third most often in the 2017 Pathfinder and typically required a timing chain replacement ($1,046-$1,615). 

The 2016 Nissan Pathfinder has only two recalls, one investigation, and 90 complaints. The 2017 Pathfinder has two recalls related to the fire-starting brake fluid and 146 complaints. 

2013-2015 Nissan Pathfinder

Gray Nissan Pathfinder 2015 year front view with dark black interior in excellent condition in a parking space with snow background

FIXD Reliability Score: 7-8/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8-9/10

KBB Value: $6,283-$10,564

Fuel Economy: 22 mpg(Gas), 26 mpg(Hybrid)

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $500-$833

Safety Rating: 4.4-4.6/5

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder introduced the fourth generation, which gained a six mpg increase due to a new continuously variable transmission. It also introduced a new unibody platform, changing the previous body-on-frame structure. 2013-2015 Nissan Pathfinder is on our list of best Pathfinders for good safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and above-average reliability scores. 

The FIXD Reliability Score for 2013 and 2015 is 7/10, and 2014 scored 8/10. The Owner Reliability Score fares a little better at 8/10 for 2013 and 2015. The 2014 Pathfinder received an impressive 9/10. Owners cite adequate storage and comfortable seats as reasons they like this model of Pathfinder. 

The crash ratings are 4.4-4.6/5, a good rating for a family SUV. However, it scored less than the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse, which both received 4.8 stars in 2013-2015. 

The annual repair costs increased with the 2013-2015 Nissan Pathfinder, rising above average for the first time on our list. While 2013 stays below average at $500 a year, 2014 and 2015 require $750 and $833, respectively. 

P0420 is the most common DTC for 2013 and 2014 and the third most common code for 2015, which is typically a bad catalytic converter. P0430 is the second most common in 2013 and 2014; a catalytic converter replacement seems imminent. Replacing the catalytic converter costs between $1,538-$2,041. 

Another shared code is P0101, which is a mass air flow sensor. It is the most common code in the 2015 Pathfinder and the third most common code in 2014. Replacing the mass air flow sensor is $172-$309. 

Another common DTC in the 2013 Pathfinder is P17F0, which has been reported as an automatic transmission and costs $2,528-$3,045 to repair. The final DTC we will discuss is P0456, the second most common in 2015. P0456 is usually tied to a loose or damaged gas cap. If you replace the cap, it might cost $20-$60.

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has eleven recalls, four investigations, and 811 complaints. The 2014 Pathfinder has six recalls, one investigation, and 277 complaints. The 2015 Pathfinder has six recalls, one investigation, and 277 complaints. 

Nissan also offered a Hybrid version of the 2014 Pathfinder in the United States and a 2015 model in some global markets such as Canada. It only increased the overall fuel efficiency by four miles per gallon and didn’t sell well enough to justify continued production. The NHTSA only has data for the 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid, which has a disappointing 12 recalls and 500 complaints. 

2007 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 6/10

Owner Reliability Score: 10/10

KBB Value: $3,647

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $917

Safety Rating: 4/5

The 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is the oldest model on our best list, and with a low market value, it is an excellent third-row SUV to consider purchasing used. 

The FIXD Reliability Score is the lowest on the best list, scoring 6/10, but the Owner Reliability Score is a perfect 10/10. Owners of this Nissan Pathfinder love the storage space, and the average mileage is 208,333. 

The safety rating is also less than previous entries, at 4 stars out of 5. While the overall is 4/5,  the side crash tests scored 5/5 for this Pathfinder. 

The annual maintenance and repair cost is a little steep for the 2007 Pathfinder at $917. We expect higher ownership costs when the vehicle is over 15 years old and averages 208,333 miles. 

The first and third most common DTCs are P0420 and P0430, indicating the need for a new catalytic converter. Catalytic converter replacement costs $1,538-$2,041. The second most common code is P0463, Fuel Level Sensor Circuit High Input. Replacing the fuel level sending unit fixes the issue and only costs $151-$323. 

The 2007 Nissan Pathfinder has two recalls, one investigation, and 559 complaints. 

2010-2012 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 7/10

Owner Reliability Score: 5-8/10

KBB Value: $4,214-$5,930

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $375-$1000

Safety Rating: 3-3.5/5

The 2010-2012 Nissan Pathfinder saw numerous trim level features shuffled around, creating a few different issues, but they still have good reliability scores. The FIXD Reliability Scores and miles per gallon stay the same throughout all three years, but other categories notice some major differences. 

The FIXD Reliability Score for 2010-2012 is 7/10, meaning it has very few engine-related DTCs compared to other model years. The Owner Reliability Scores fluctuate, reaching a low of 5/10 in 2010, showing that some other issues may affect an owner’s perception of its reliability. The Owner Reliability Score went to 8/10 in 2011 and 7/10 in 2012. 

While the FIXD Reliability Score is higher than the 2007 Pathfinder, 2010-2012 ranked lower due to the abysmal safety scores.  Scoring 3/5 in 2011 and 2012, this is the lowest score across all Pathfinders. It got 3.5 out of 5 stars in 2010. 

One of the most significant differences in these Pathfinders is the annual amount spent on maintenance and repairs. It only costs $375 annually for 2011, while 2010 costs $750 and 2012 $1,000 on average. 

The most common DTC for the 2010 Pathfinder is P0442, an evaporative emission control system leak. This could be a loose gas cap, but it could also require replacing your charcoal canister ($200-$600). P0456, a small evaporative emission leak, is present in 2010 and 2011 and is most likely a loose gas cap or another indicator that you need a charcoal canister. 

Another common code is P0430, a catalyst system below efficiency (bank 2), and this DTC is present often in both 2010 and 2012. The 2011 Pathfinder also sees P0420. P0420 and P0430 point to a bad catalytic converter ($1,538-$2,041). 

P0101, mass air flow sensor ($172-$309), is the most common code in 2011 and 2012. P0172 rounds out the common DTCs for this Nissan Pathfinder, which means bank 1 has too much fuel or insufficient air. A vacuum leak usually causes this DTC and will cost $100-$200 to repair. 

The 2010 Nissan Pathfinder only has five recalls and 38 complaints, while the 2011 Pathfinder has two recalls and 40 complaints. The best of all three, the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder, has two recalls and an impressive 19 complaints. This low number of recalls and complaints is another reason the 2010-2012 Pathfinder is one we recommend. 

The Worst Years of the Nissan Pathfinder

Side view of Nissan Pathfinder in motion,  moving on the street

Again, we looked at the FIXD Reliability and Owner Reliability scores to determine the worst years of the Nissan Pathfinder. We also considered the safety scores and fuel economy before going over the DTCs and safety recalls. These are the Nissan Pathfinders you should avoid, listed from worst to best. 

2001 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 1/10

Owner Reliability Score: 3/10 

KBB Value: $2,051

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $1,500

Safety Rating: 4/5

Unsurprisingly, the oldest Nissan Pathfinder we have data for is the worst on our list. The debut of a new 250-horsepower V6 engine increased power but decreased engine reliability with new problems. 

The FIXD Reliability Score is the lowest possible at 1/10, and Owner Reliability Score is the lowest of all Pathfinders at 3/10. The high number of DTCs and owner dissatisfaction are two of the main reseasons you should avoid this Pathfinder. 

Safety ratings are surprisingly good compared to some of the other Pathfinders, with 4 out of 5 stars. However, the average safety rating isn’t enough to save it from being the worst Nissan Pathfinder. 

Taking the crown for the most expensive annual repair and maintenance, the 2001 Nissan Pathfinder costs $1,500 for yearly upkeep. It is hard to justify spending that much yearly for a car only worth $2,051 and averages 208,333 miles.

The most common DTC for the 2001 Pathfinder is P0505, which most often required a new engine control module costing $1,021-$1,505. Another common code, P1320, is fixed by replacing the ignition coils ($51-$173). 

The recalls and complaints aren’t terrible for the 2001 Nissan Pathfinder, with seven recalls and 238 complaints. However, if those recalls haven’t been fixed, it is another reason to avoid this model year. 

2003 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 1/10

Owner Reliability Score: 7/10

KBB Value: $2,513

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $375

Safety Rating: 3.75/5

The 2003 Nissan Pathfinder introduced optional satellite radio and leather seats in the LE trim level, but these features didn’t improve the overall reliability. This model has low safety scores, fuel economy, and a bad FIXD Reliability Score. 

The FIXD Reliability is as low as possible for the 2003 Nissan Pathfinder at 1/10. Owner Reliability is much higher at 7/10, reiterating our above section about owners believing their car is more reliable than reality. 

The safety rating is also much lower than its counterparts, getting an average of only 3.75 out of 5 stars. The 2003 Ford Explorer scored better, with 4/5, and the 2003 Honda Pilot blew them out of the water with 4.8 stars out of 5. 

If you already own a 2003 Nissan Pathfinder, a silver lining is the low yearly maintenance costs. It only requires $375 yearly, almost half the average $668. However, there is a 100% chance of a repair over $500 at some point. Additionally, the average time spent in the shop is 2.2 days, half a day more than the average 1.7 days for all Pathfinders. 

Another year of the Pathfinder being cursed with a bad catalytic converter. The 2003’s most common DTCs are P0420 and P0430, catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Bank 1 & 2). Replacing the catalytic converter costs $1,538-$2,041. The third place is P0462, the Instrument Cluster, which costs $302-$453 to repair. 

The recalls and complaints for the 2003 Nissan Pathfinder are reasonable, with seven and 106. 

2008-2009 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-2/10

Owner Reliability Score: 6-7/10

KBB Value: $5,191-$5,828

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $750-$1,250

Safety Rating: 3.5-4/5

The 2008-2009 Pathfinder is a mid-generation facelift that fares just as poorly as the first year of the third generation (2005). While it received an optional V8 engine for the first time, high repair costs, low reliability scores, and inadequate safety ratings make this a Nissan Pathfinder you should avoid. 

The 2008-2009 Pathfinder triggered many DTCs and received a FIXD Reliability Score of 1 and 2 out of 10. The Owner Reliability Score is better, at 6 and 7 out of 10, continuing the trend of owners believing their car’s reliability to be better than our data proves. 

The crash test ratings could be better for 2008-2009, scoring only 3.5 out of 5 in 2009 and 4/5 in 2008. This rating is bad news for shoppers looking for a safe SUV to haul their family around. A better option is a 2013-2020 Pathfinder, or even the Toyota Highlander, which got an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars in 2008-2009.

Repair costs are higher than average, at $1,250 in 2008 and $750 in 2009. Owners also reported a 100% chance of a repair above $500 in the 2009 Pathfinder, which is bad news considering the average mileage is pretty low (91,667). If your 2008 Pathfinder ends up in the shop, it will be in there for an average of 3.3 days, almost double the average of 1.7. These are reasons to look elsewhere if you shop for a used SUV. 

2008 and 2009 both have P0420 (catalyst system below efficiency (bank 1)) as a common DTC, but the 2008 model also triggers P0430 (catalyst system below efficiency (bank 2)) often. These codes point to a catalytic converter replacement ($1,538-$2,041). 

The 2009 Pathfinder’s other most common codes (P0171 and P0507) indicate a vacuum leak. Fixing a vacuum leak can cost $100 to $250, depending on the location and severity.  

The 2008 Nissan Pathfinder has only five recalls, but 323 complaints and 154 are related to the powertrain. The 2009 Pathfinder has four recalls and only 37 complaints. 

2005-2006 Nissan Pathfinder

2005 Black Nissan Pathfinder driving   on the street on a  warm day

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-2/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8/10

KBB Value: $2,938-$3,834

Fuel Economy: 17 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $875-$950

Safety Rating: 4/5

The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is the first year of the third generation, which introduced a third row for the first time. However, the 2005-2006 Nissan Pathfinder has above-average maintenance costs and below-average safety ratings. Top it off with an enormous number of consumer complaints (1,879 between the two); we recommend avoiding this Pathfinder like it were an ex at a high school reunion. 

The 2005-2006 Nissan Pathfinder has a FIXD Reliability Score of 1 and 2 out of 10, while the Owner Reliability Score is above average at 8/10. 

Safety ratings are not terrible in an overall dark overview, rating 4 out of 5 stars. This is better than some of the other Pathfinders (We’re looking at you 2011 and 2012), but it is still below average and even worse than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which received a rating of 4.5 stars. 

The average mileage for 2005-2006 is above average at 175,000 and 165,000, which translates to high repair costs. The 2005 Pathfinder costs $875 to maintain each year, while 2006 jumps to $950. These repair costs are over $200 more than the average $668. 

The 2005-2006 Nissan Pathfinder shares the same most common DTCs are the same and are ones we have seen often throughout this article. P0420 and P0430, “Catalyst system efficiency below threshold (Banks 1 & 2),” point to a bad catalytic converter costing $1,538-$2,041. 

The number of recalls for the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder is low, at four, but the 1,047 complaints are concerning. The 2006 Pathfinder doesn’t fare much better, with five recalls and 832 complaints. If you need more reasons to avoid these Pathfinders, 147 complaints are about the engine, and 449 are about the power train. 

2004 Nissan Pathfinder

FIXD Reliability Score: 4/10

Owner Reliability Score: 4/10

KBB Value: $2,284

Fuel Economy: 15 mpg

Annual Maintenance/Repair: $750 

Safety Rating: 5/5

The last year of the second generation, the 2004 Nissan Pathfinder, is the best of the worst for a few reasons. Its high safety rating and the low number of complaints are a few positives, while the low-reliability scores and high ownership costs are some negatives. 

With the highest FIXD Reliability Score on this side of the list, the 2004 Pathfinder scored 4/10 on both it and the Owner Reliability Score. 

The safety rating is a perfect 5 stars, the best across any Pathfinder. While it is a great safety score, we recommend avoiding this vehicle. If you’re still driving one around, you can take solace in the fact that it is one of the safest vehicles from that year on the road, scoring higher than both the Ford Explorer (4.2) and Honda Pilot (4.8) in that year. 

Annual repair and maintenance costs are an average of $750 for the 2004 Nissan Pathfinder. Owners reported a 100% chance of a repair over $500, which is understandable considering the average mileage of this Pathfinder is 275,000. 

The most common DTC we have data for is the popular catalytic converter, P0420. The repair costs $1,538-$2,041. 

The 2004 Nissan Pathfinder has seven recalls, four investigations, and 64 complaints. Three recalls are for exterior lighting, while two are for airbag-related issues. 


What years of the Nissan Pathfinder have engine and/or transmission problems?

The Nissan Pathfinder has high-reliability Scores in most model years, but some years have a higher chance than others of transmission or engine problems. 

Our FIXD app data shows that most years have potential catalytic converter issues, resulting in an almost $2,000 repair. This is especially true for 2005-2009, with more than one DTC pointing at that particular issue. 

Another worrisome stat is the number of powertrain complaints, specifically between the same years (2005-2009). Almost half of all the complaints are about the power train in these years. An extreme example is the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder, which has 1,047 complaints, and 584 of them are about the power train. 144 are about the engine, and 290 are about the engine or engine cooling. 

What is considered high mileage for a Nissan Pathfinder?

According to our data, anything above 225,000 would be considered high mileage for a Nissan Pathfinder. The highest number of miles reported by owners is 275,000, while the average for all Pathfinders is 140,901. 

High mileage doesn’t always mean low reliability, and we recommend having your Pathfinder inspected to see what issues it may have acquired, regardless of the miles driven. 

Do any hybrid years have problems?

The Nissan Pathfinder only offered a hybrid version for the 2014 model year in the United States and 2014 and 2015 in some global markets. Nissan discontinued the hybrid after it failed to sell as well as hoped and achieved a fuel economy of 26 mpg, only four miles per gallon higher than the non-hybrid version.

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid has a staggering 12 recalls, four investigations, and 500 complaints. While 90 complaints were about the airbags and 50 about the engine, 174 were about the powertrain. There are many issues with the acceleration and reports of shaking or shuddering.  

What other vehicles should I consider? 

Instead of the Nissan Pathfinder, you should consider the Toyota Highlander, which offers a spacious interior, comfortable ride, and strong reliability. The Ford Explorer is another great option with its impressive towing capacity, versatile seating arrangement, and advanced technology features.

Alternatively, you could explore the Chevy Traverse, which boasts a roomy cabin, smooth handling, and a user-friendly infotainment system. For those seeking off-road capabilities, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a compelling choice, providing excellent performance on and off the pavement.

Lastly, the Buick Enclave presents a luxurious alternative with its refined interior, quiet and comfortable ride, and high-tech safety features. Each vehicle offers unique qualities that could be a great fit depending on your preferences and needs.

What owners of the Nissan Pathfinder like to use their car for:

Nissan Pathfinder owners mostly use their SUV as a family vehicle (39%), while lots of driving is a close second (35%). Hauling/towing and outdoor/off-road tie for third place at 9%, while luxurious driving and office on wheels were 3% each. Sport/fast driving came last, with 1% of Pathfinder owners reporting using it for that purpose.  

Frequent Use Categories: How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)
Family Vehicle ****
Lots of Driving (travel/long commute) ****
Hauling/Towing *
Office on Wheels *
Sport/Fast Driving *
Luxurious Driving *
Outdoor/Off-Road *

A Note About Data and Information Sources

This article has many details about Nissan Pathfinder reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.

  • FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App

The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing. 

This is an objective score.

  • Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Nissan Pathfinder owners who use FIXD. 

The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from owners of the Nissan Pathfinder.  

This is a subjective score.

To determine the Owner Reliability Score we ask each car owner:

How reliable would you say your Nissan Pathfinder is?

a. Just point A to point B driving

b. A Daily Commuter

c. Good for a 100 mile road trip

d. Good for a 500 mile road trip

e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem

From here we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:

a. = 2

b. = 4

c. = 6

d. = 8

e. = 10

Keep in mind, owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is. 

One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.

Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.

Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others. 

It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars. 

Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores, people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data. 

We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.

  • KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Nissan Pathfinder with typical mileage for that respective model year.
  • Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
  • Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Nissan Pathfinder owners
  • Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.


  1. Nissan Pathfinder model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates). Retrieved June 17, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
  2. Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved June 17, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
  3. Nissan Pathfinder Generations, carbuzz.com. Retrieved June 17, 2023, from https://carbuzz.com/cars/nissan/pathfinder-generations
Keith Rollins Headshot

Keith Rollins is a copywriter and author that has been involved in the automotive industry for over 12 years. He has written for hotcars.com and is featured on Copywriting.org. When he’s not writing he’s spending time with his three kids, hiking, working on cars, or running. You can see his work at keithrrollins.com.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

Keith Rollins

Keith Rollins

Keith Rollins is a copywriter and author that has been involved in the automotive industry for over 12 years. He has written for hotcars.com and is featured on Copywriting.org. When he’s not writing he’s spending time with his three kids, hiking, working on cars, or running. You can see his work at keithrrollins.com.

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