CC Outtake: 1987 Nissan Pathfinder – The Long and Winding Path Started Here

You want to know why Nissan has run a distant number two to Toyota for almost ever? Here’s just one of very many reasons: inconsistency. The “Hardbody”Pathfinder arrived in 1986, and was a tough off-road capable 4×4 sitting on pickup frame. As such, it squared off directly against the Toyota 4Runner that had preceded it by two years, with the same concept. But the Pathfinder was better styled; in fact is was as good-looking as it got for vehicles in its class. And it was a genuine hit; these were everywhere. I don’t have sales stats, but I bet this gave the 4Runner a serious run4 the money. I wouldn’t be surprised if it outsold it some of the time during its long run (1986-1995).

When it was finally replaced in 1999, it was with a rather softer looking and feeling vehicle, and with a unibody. Nothing wrong with that in principle, but these just didn’t appeal to the hard core offroaders. Have you aver seen one lifted a bit and kitted out for the real thing? Meanwhile, an Infiniti version (XQ4) didn’t enhance that new rep.

In 2005, the Pathfinder found itself back to being based on the Frontier pickup. Again, I don’t have stats, but it seems to me these never got much traction either. By this time the 4Runner, which stayed true to its genuine 4×4 roots, despite getting bigger and more comfortable, had carved out a niche pretty much all to itself.

I could not have told you what the current Pathfinder, or what it looks like. Not surprisingly, it’s just another CUV, based on Nissan’s D platform, shared with the Murano, Altima, Maxima and a host of other Nissans, Renaults, Samsungs and a Venucia (China). Is this Nissan’s Highlander competitor? Or is that the Murano? Nissan has no less than five CUVs in its lineup, so the overlap seems a bit thick at times.

In any case, this is not a 4Runner competitor in anyone’s wildest dreams (what is?). And now I know what the current Pathfinder looks like, but I’m not too likely to see one around here anytime soon. Or just not likely to notice.


But I did notice this veteran, sporting a bit of colorful redecorating. These were very popular here, given the outdoorsy nature of a significant percentage of our inhabitants.

Looks like it’s sporting a BandAid from an encounter of some sort. Even hardbodies can get injured.