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Looking at a 3rd gen/R51

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Joined: 26 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 5:39 pm    Post subject: Looking at a 3rd gen/R51 Reply with quote

Enjoyed reading some of the threads/posts as a potential R51 Pathfinder buyer. I'm looking to replace the family 2003 Subaru OB. Nothing wrong with the OB, but we need more room for family vacations and I need more towing capacity. It is a DD driver for me (about 15 mi round trip to work) and we take it for the annual family vacation (or 2 in some years). I also will upgrade my utility trailer to a 3500lb unit and we're considering a boat (looks to be in the 3500 - 4500 lb range for what we are looking at). I'd like to buy used due to the $$ cost of new for most SUVs and the fact that we only put on 8000 miles/yr or so.

For the body on frame options, it is the 4Runner and Pathfinder. Two main concerns working against the 4Runner - cost, 2010+ are not cheap and the previous gen typically have the greater miles and still not that much cheaper. Other issue is lack of a 3rd row - they are few and far between. It is not necessarily a show stopper, but would be very handy with the grandparents, kids friends, etc. On the cost issue and 3rd row, Pathfinder is the better option and generally seems to be more out there used.

Couple questions on the Pathfinder I thought I would post. One is the radiator/trans issue. Wikipedia write up says it impacts 2005 to 2010 MYs which seems to agree with Recalls seems to be lower on the 2011 and 2012 as well. Does this make sense to those on the board? 2011 and 2012s don't have the radiator problem? Also, if the warranty repair was done on say a 2010, does that eliminate the problem?

Other question is related to MPG. I know there is a lot of variability and I've read a lot of posts on Pathfinder MPG. Anyone offer what to expect for the V6 and V8 4wd? I don't think I need the V8, but just curious as to what the mileage penalty is.

Any other comments on the R51 on what to look or look out for are welcome. There seems to be a lot of what the Pathfinder offers is what I'm looking for, so maybe it's worth the hard look. Thanks
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The newer models should be more reliable as there really weren't any major changes since 2005. They had a long time to iron out the kinks! There was a mild refresh in 2008 and there seems to be a jump in reliability around that time.

I also narrowed it down to the 4R and PF. At the time, the PF had far more/better features, more comfortable seating, and better handling. 4R was a little quieter and a better ride. Obviously the '10 4R is different...bigger, goofy styling inside and out (imho) but I was still not impressed with the seating and minimal features without going to a Ltd. Personally I think the PF is just a terrific value for what you get. The 4R is significantly more expensive and beyond maintaining resale value....there's just not a big difference in my book. I've owned many Toyotas and they're not as bullet-proof these days as they were back in the 90's. I came out of an '06 Tundra into the PF. Last year we traded an '11 Sienna Ltd after only 18 months because it just had too many problems (and my wife hated it). $45k minivan! Took a damn bath on that thing.

The radiator was supposed to be updated/fixed somewhere around '10. You'll at least be under warranty for awhile and if the '10+ models end up with that problem Nissan will likely extend the warranty. It's a deterioration issue inside the radiator it takes years for the problem to show up. That being said replacing the radiator is really not that big of a deal. I kept mine OEM until the extended warranty was up and then swapped the radiator. you mentioned it really depends on where/how you drive. I tend to get close to EPA hwy numbers on my vehicles in normal driving because I drive a lot of highway/state routes and very little town. I average around 18mpg in the winter and 19-20mpg in the summer. On long highway trips at 70-75 mph I get 20-21. I'm not light on the go-pedal but am strickly lift or aggressive tires. I could probably stand to go to an AT as I struggle a little sometimes with the highway tires but I'd rather have the handling/economy.

Of course if you're only driving 8k miles a gas mileage really a major concern? $25/month difference between 18mpg and 15mpg. I'm doing about 3x that many miles and would love to gain 4-5mpg but I'm not willing to give up the utility of the PF for the newer "SUV's". My wife has an MDX now that's really just a tall car. It only gets around 1mpg better than the PF and requires premium fuel. Makes the PF seem pretty damn efficient in my book.
2008 Pathfinder SE 4x4
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Joined: 26 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply. I think I'm looking at the PF they way you do - seems like a better value, more features, 3rd row (standard? or much more common). Better resale on the 4R seems like it doesn't matter since you pay more upfront (at least the used ones I'm looking at) and I'd rather pay less now and keep the $$ in my pocket. I'm not that familiar with all of the models, S, SV, SE, LE, etc. so I need to figure that out as to what you get with each. Seems like a SV or SE would do the trick. Probably don't need the LE and those seem to be a harder to come by. I'm a little concerned about the radiator issue, but if that was cleared up with the 2011s, a used 2011 or 2012 seems to be well within my price range.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks like you've done some great research!

skinny2 gave some great info above and I'll add some that I hope you'll find useful.

We were comparing the 4Runner and Pathfinder as well. We chose the Pathfinder because of the third row and styling (I've always found Toyotas to be so bland). We bought a 2008 V8 LE and, considering its quirks and repairs versus many good points, the jury is still out as to whether we made the right decision. I'm in advertising and Toyota is one of our clients. From a strictly statistical standpoint, it's hard to beat Toyota reliability -- hence the high demand and cost. I do agree with Skinny that Toyota quality today is not what it used to be in the 90s.

Radiator issue: It's hard to tell if the radiator issue has been fixed in the redesigned radiators but I can tell you that there's a direct link between failure and maintenance history. If you buy a Pathfinder that has been religiously maintained, chances are good that the radiator will never fail during the service life of the transmission. I would look for a late year, low mileage model with an impeccably documented service history. Also, keep in mind that you're 100% covered by an extended warranty until 80K miles.

Gas mileage: I was truly surprised by how comparable the V8's fuel economy is to the V6. I use my V8 as a DD from Annapolis to Baltimore (about 35 miles). My route is all highway and mostly flat with mixed traffic and I average about 17 mpg. On our recent trip to Southwest Virginia, we averaged about 18.5 mpg doing 75 with cruise control. On the capitol beltway during rush hour I average about 14 mpg.

Some things I liked about the V8 over the V6 (aside from towing capacity):
- Quieter engine and overall ride
- Heavier feel
- Beefier rear end
- That sexy V8 badge on the door

Some things I don't like about the V8 compared to the V6:
- Not as peppy
- Awkward gearing on the V8's transmission

Some things that bother me now, that I've driven it everyday for a couple of years:
- Underpowered brakes: My wife complains that she feels she has to use both feet sometimes to get it to stop. Maybe I complain about that, too, but I'm not going to admit it for fear it'll make me sound less manly than I am.
- Ride quality: I know it's the nature of the style of truck but it's the topic of conversation with almost everyone who rides with me. It usually starts like, "Wow, your car really rides rough." Tip: if grandma has a heart condition, do not put her in the third row. She will be violently shaken to death.
- Interior rattles: Every day there's a new rattle coming from somewhere. The DVD player, the radio, the corner pillar, the windshield trim, the center console, etc. If you're a religious man, you'll think God is messing with you.
- Cheap pleather: Sit in a "leather" Altima and then a "leather" Pathfinder. They're different pleather. The Pathfinder's interior feels more like the vinyl you'll find the the back of police cars (not that I'd know). It's stiff, scratches easily and lacks support.
- Automatic climate control: Avoid it and get the manual system if you can. On long trips, we are constantly fighting it -- even when using the manual setting. "75°" can be warm, boiling hot or ice cold, depending on the mood of the car -- and it'll change moods on its own while driving down the highway. This leads me to believe the car is definitely a woman.
- Crappily designed convenience features: The heated steering wheel gets red-hot only in certain spots. The radio's speed-controled volume has little to do with speed and more to do with making you think you're going crazy. The rear climate control only heats and cools when Saturn is aligned with Nebular N301-7B (that's once every 38M years). The "comfort exit" feature (the driver's seat slides you into the trunk when you turn the car off) is more annoying than helpful.
- Not a lot of rear storage: Cargo space? Yes. Places to store ratchets, tools and a compressor? No. My old Jetta wagon had a hundred little compartments in the back under the floor and in the side walls. The Pathfinder has one very small and shallow compartment under the floor designed to hold a single toothpick and a single open netted side compartment designed to toss its contents around the trunk when you make your first turn. You're going to miss this coming from the Outback.

All of that said, the Pathfinder has a ton of redeeming qualities that make us glad we bought it. Here are some good points:
- Styling: The car is quite handsome inside and out. I especially love the extended nose in the '08+ models.
- Highway driving: The car is a pleasure to drive on the highway. It tracks perfectly straight, feels rock solid and is relatively quiet. When you have the cruise on at 75mph, you can't hear the V8 engine at all, the wind noise is negligible and road noise is very acceptable (this depends on your tires, of course). My wife and I can have a normal conversation with our "inside" voices.
- The Bose system: I've never been a huge fan of Bose but the Bose system in the Pathfinder sounds really clean and rich. And it gets loud enough to cover up the rattles.
- The truck is quite basic, which makes it easy to work on. Changing brakes and rotors takes about 15 minutes per wheel. In my old Mercedes it took 5 special tools and a guy named Jürgen. Likewise, to check the transmission fluid on my wife's Jetta you need a computer with a $1,200 software package while the Pathfinder requires a 10mm bolt and a napkin.
- Cup holders! The Pathfinder was clearly designed for people who make coffee runs. 4 in the front, 2 in the middle and 2 for the people getting shaken-baby syndrome in the third row.
- It feels like a truck. The driving position, the tall hood, the way it handles all help to make you feel like you're in a man's car. Unlike the new pathfinder, which was designed for people who can't decide between a minivan and a hairdresser's car.

Sorry I got carried away with this post. I'm currently writing an article and am in "writing" mode.
2008 LE V8
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