THE LAST ‘REAL’ PATHFINDER
The truth is, before even getting to the dealership, my plan was to test drive a 2006 Toyota 4Runner. My second choice was a Nissan Pathfinder of the same year. Once I got to the dealership and learned that the 4Runner was already sold, I test drove the Pathfinder and decided to proceed with its purchase. This was in the fall of 2009. I felt that it had everything I was looking for: a two-speed transfer case, a powerful engine, comfort, and lots of room to bring friends on an adventure. At the time, I had no idea what “overlanding” was and this was my first 4x4.
Contrary to the Nissan Xterra, the R51 Nissan Pathfinder (20052012) was more family-oriented with its seven-passenger capacity. While the independent rear suspension limits its wheel travel, it is still a body on frame SUV. The R51 Pathfinder is the last “real” Pathfinder that can take you off the beaten ‘path’. A big plus is that the cargo area offers enough room that I can sleep in the back if I choose not to set up a tent.
If your plan does not include rock crawling or anything too serious off-road, the Pathfinder can be a great overland platform–but first, it needs a few modifications. One of my first upgrades was the suspension as I found it to be excessively soft. The ground clearance was not great either. I remedied the situation by installing a two-inch suspension lift kit. Next was the installation of a good set of LT tires. My model came with a set of P265/70/16 tires, which I upgraded to LT265/75/16. With just those upgrades, it went from a grocery getter to an adventure 4x4.