2012 Nissan Pathfinder Review: Trims, Features, Prices, Performance, MPG Figures and Rivals

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Aaron Smith

Automotive Journalist May 22, 2020 at 06:27 AM
The midsize SUV market is crowded with plenty of good SUVs, and the Pathfinder is Nissan's rightful contender in this segment. The Pathfinder has now been in the market for around 35 years and has still managed to remain one of the most sought after SUVs in the US
2012 Nissan Pathfinder

The 2012 Nissan Pathfinder was the last model that belonged to the second generation of this car. The third generation 2020 Nissan Pathfinder started from the year 2013 during which the SUV was completely redesigned adding significant features and performance upgrades to the present model. In the next generation a lot of design changes were made and it also traded in the Unibody design with the conventional Body-On-Frame design. Read our detailed analysis to know more about the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder.

How well does it stack up against the competition?

Some of the SUVs that put up a great competition to the Pathfinder are the Ford Explorer and the Honda Pilot. The SUV in question, as well as the competition, has evolved quite a lot over the years. Each SUV trumps the others in certain areas like fuel economy, trunk capacity, reliability rating, and provides for different customer needs. Honda Pilot has a better cargo space and reliability rating, whereas the Ford Explorer has better looks and engine variety.

2012 Nissan Pathfinder Trims and Features

The 2012 pathfinder comes in four available trims, which are S with an MSRP of $29290, SV costing $32640, Silver with an MSRP of $36630, and finally, LE costing $40240. However, the trims have changed since and now the 2020 version comes with four trims named S costing $31680, SV costing $34470, SL costing $38090, and Platinum which costs $42920.
















Key Features

Cruise Control

In addition to or replaces S trim features with:

In addition to or replaces SV trim features with:

In addition to or replaces Silver trim features with:


Intermittent wipers

Driver illuminated visor mirror

Auxiliary power outlet

Mirror memory


Power mirrors

Leather wrapped steering wheel

Heated mirrors

Auto-off headlights


Adjustable steering wheel

Electrochromic rearview mirror

Ventilated front seats

Steering wheel controls


Driver vanity mirror

Variable speed intermittent wipers

Heated steering wheel

Rear and front reading lamps


Power steering

Keyless start

Heated leather seats

Back up camera


Alloy wheels

Remote trunk release

Bose Sound system

Luggage rack

Also Read:

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Suv Infotainment,Seating and Interior Features

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Specs & Features

Engine and Performance

The 2012 Pathfinder comes with a standard 4.0L V6 engine that is capable of producing 266 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 288 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm and an optional 5.6L V8 engine that can produce 310 horsepower at 5200 rpm and 388 lb-ft of torque at 3400 Revs. The standard transmission for the SUV is a five-speed automatic transmission with a standard rear-wheel drivetrain but a four-wheel drive is also available optionally.

2012 Nissan Pathfinder

Over the years the engines, transmissions, and powertrain have evolved and changed a lot. The 2020 version offers a continuously variable transmission with a standard front-wheel drivetrain and an optional four-wheel drive.

How does the engine feel?

The SUV is made for off-roading and towing heavyweights but it works just fine when it comes to driving around the city, although it could use a bit more power and isn't as comfortable as its rival crossovers.


2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Honda Pilot







4.0 liter V6

3.5 liter V6

3.5 liter V6

3.5 liter V6


Rear wheel drive

Front wheel drive

Rear wheel drive

Front wheel drive


5 speed Automatic

Continuously Variable Transmission

6 speed Automatic

6 speed Automatic

Power (hp @ rpm)

266 @ 5600

284 @ 6400

290 @ 6500

280 @ 6000

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)

288 @ 4000

259 @ 4800

255 @ 4000

262 @ 4700

The figures in the table above show that all the SUVs have pretty similar performances when it comes to their engines and powertrains, but one thing worth noting is that the towing capacity has been lowered over the years in Nissan.

How fast is the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder?

Pathfinder's acceleration is quite good. The horsepower produced by its V6 engine is much higher than most of its rivals, although a lot of people love the extra power that comes with the V8. The SUV takes 7.2 seconds to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour and 15.6 seconds to cover a quarter mile, which is a pretty good score. The acceleration of the 2020 model is still the same as that of 2012 even when the engine capacity is downsized.


2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Honda Pilot

0 to 60 MPH (Seconds)





Quarter mile (Seconds)





Top speed (Mph)






4.0 liter V6

3.5 liter V6

3.5 liter V6

3.5 liter V6

Emissions (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr)





The figures show that Ford Explorer is the fastest of all the SUVs and the Nissan Pathfinder doesn't show any significant change in the speed figures. There is definitely an improvement in the emissions which have lowered quite well over the years.

How does the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder handle?

The driving dynamics of the Pathfinder are stable and composed but the designer's efforts to make this more of an off-road SUV, the suspension has been made a bit stiffer than should have been. The SUV doesn't offer a very comfortable ride, it is rather choppy.

2012 Pathfinder was offered with a Rear-Wheel-Drive and an All-Wheel-Drive

The standard rear-wheel drive has a great towing capacity to the vehicle but the available four-wheel drive gives great all-weather traction. The 2020 version has a standard front-wheel drive and comes with the flexibility of being locked by the driver either in the front drive, all-wheel drive, or automatic modes.

Also Read:

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Towing Capacity

2020 Nissan Pathfinder City, Highway and Combined MPG and Fuel Range

How well does the car stop?

The sportiness of the Pathfinder shows in its braking as well. The brakes feel quite strong and powerful and their performance is quite smooth. The Pathfinder comes from 60 to 0 mph in just 138 ft. The one downside to this SUV's braking is the strong nosedive that comes with even the slightest application of brakes.


2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Honda Pilot

Brake Rotors: Front (inches)





Brake Rotors: Rear (inches)





Curb weight (lbs)





60 - 0 (ft)



108 (with optional tires)


The Ford Explorer has the best braking power even after being the heaviest in the competition. The braking performance of the Pathfinder has increased significantly over the years.

How is the fuel economy of the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder?

Fuel economy is one area where this SUV doesn't do quite well. This is also the area where the Pathfinder has made the most progress over the years. 


2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Honda Pilot

MPG (City)





MPG (Highway)





MPG (Combined)





Fuel Capacity (Gallons)





Range (City/ Highway/ Combined, in miles)

274/ 379/358

390/ 527/448

316/ 446/372

371/ 527/429

The 2012 version had a very bad fuel economy with only 17 mpg combined. But over the years, Nissan has made it much better, and now it is almost at the top in the competition.

Is the interior of the car a nice place to be in?

Talking about the 2012 version, the interior is not quite up to the mark, its rivals do much better in this area and put the Pathfinder to shame. But the Pathfinder has evolved over the years to provide great comfort to the occupants.

2012 Nissan Pathfinder Dashboard

The interior has only bettered in time and become more comfortable and easy to use for the passengers. Most of the panels on the earlier version have hard plastic showing a low budget.

Are the seats comfortable?

The SUV can seat up to seven people with an 8 way manually adjustable driver seat and standard bench seats in the second and the third row. The lower trims have standard cloth upholstery. The third row was found difficult to access and wasn't found to be made for seating adults.


2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Honda Pilot

Seating Capacity





Front row (Headroom/ Shoulder room/ Legroom, in inches)

40.0/ 58.3/ 42.4

42.2/ 60.9/ 42.3

41.4/ 61.5/ 42.9

40.1/ 62.0/ 40.9

Middle row (Headroom/ Shoulder room/ Legroom, in inches)

39.0/ 58.4/ 34.2

39.4/ 60.4/ 41.7

40.6/ 61.0/ 39.5

40.2/ 62.0/ 38.4

Rear row (Headroom/ Shoulder room/ Legroom, in inches)

36.7/ 57.1/ 28.1

37.8/ 57.1/ 30.7

37.8/ 50.8/ 32.0

38.9/ 57.6/ 31.9

Trunk capacity (Cubic feet)





There isn't much difference in the interior dimensions of the SUVs in the competition, although Ford has the highest trunk capacity.

What's there to keep you entertained?

The 2012 Pathfinder comes equipped with an infotainment system having a 7-inch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and a Bose stereo system. However, the 2020 version has a great infotainment system which is highly upgraded for the passengers' entertainment.

2012 Nissan Pathfinder Infotainment

Some of its features are:

  • 7-inch touch screen display
  • 13 speaker Bose Audio system
  • 6 USB Ports
  • Rear SONAR System
  • Bluetooth
  • XM Satellite Radio
  • Navigation

Are the SUV's looks good enough to attract the buyers?

The design of the SUV won't attract many passersby at first glance. Although the design of the 2020 version is much better than that of the 2012 version but is still not very promising. Some of the features added to the 2012 Pathfinder are:

  • 20" Aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Dual panel panoramic moonroof
  • Rear spoiler and roof rails
  • Fog lamps
  • Outlandish and Serious looks
  • Straightforward Design 


2012 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Ford Explorer

2020 Honda Pilot

Curb weight (lb)





Length (inches)





Width (inches)





Height (inches)





Ground clearance (inches)





Wheelbase (inches)





Over a period of 8 years, Nissan has made its SUV much lighter than before and larger than before. The ground clearance has been reduced quite significantly from 9 inches to 7 inches.

Safety features of the car

The 2012 Pathfinder was crash-tested by the NHTSA for rollover safety, and received 3 out of 5 stars, and was also rated by the IIHS which rated the SUV Good ratings in front-impact and side-impact tests, and Marginal in rear impact and roof-strength crash tests. The SUV had pretty basic safety features back then like a 4 wheel anti-lock braking system, traction control system, rearview backup mirror, and tire pressure monitoring system. But this has been upgraded heavily since. 

2012 Nissan Pathfinder received 3 Stars from NHTSA

Some of the features present in the 2020 Pathfinder are:

  • Vehicle Dynamic Control with traction control
  • LATCH system
  • Adjustable headrests
  • Blindspot warning and rear cross-traffic alert system
  • Child Safety Locks
  • Adjustable Pedals
  • Front Tow Hooks
  • Traction Control

Which one to go for?

Looking at the pros and cons of both, 2012 as well as the 2020 model of the Nissan Pathfinder, it is advisable to not buy the 2012 version at all. The 2012 version is very outdated and doesn't offer nearly as much as required in today's world. Moreover, the 2012 Pathfinder has been fully redesigned and heavily upgraded since, and for a few extra thousand bucks, 2020 Pathfinder SUV would provide a much better option to go for.

Also Read:

2020 Nissan Pathfinder: NHTSA and IIHS Ratings, and Safety Features

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

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