- Words and photo by Mathieu Godin Cars · Toyota 4Runner · Toyota Motor Corporation · Nissan Pathfinder · Nissan Motor Company · Nissan Xterra

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.

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