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Toyota 4Runner vs. Nissan Pathfinder



  • Have you also looked at the Saturn Outlook / GMC Acadia CUV twins? I am also trying to decide which SUV/CUV to replace my '97 Olds Bravada and the Outlook, Pathfinder, and 4Runner are on my final list. These two GM CUVs have had great reviews since they came out in early in the year. My only concern about them is that they may have too much room in back for my needs. :confuse:
  • canddmeyercanddmeyer Posts: 410
    My 2003 V6 4X4 4Runner averages 15.5mpg overall. Five people would be cramped. In the long run, it would probably be less expensive to keep what you have and pay the gas bill then to have to make new vehicle payments. Unless you need 4WD or tow, a minivan might be a consideration.
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    I've got a 2003 4Runner. 5 people and luggage would be a tight squeeze in a 4Runner. And the mileage isn't great either (I average 16-17 mpg combined, maybe 19 on the highway if I'm going slowly). If you think the Tahoe doesn't have enough room in back, then you'll be really disappointed with the MUCH smaller 4Runner.

    If you don't need offroad capability, I'd look at a cross-over or minivan. You'll get more room inside and less of the drawbacks of a body-on-frame SUV. Look at GM's Acadia/Outlook/Enclave.
  • aggie10aggie10 Posts: 17
    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. It's all very helpful.
  • I looked at the Acadia and like it, but I heard they won't deal on it. I like the looks, but can't give you anything else on the vehicle. Does have a lot of room though.
  • I have a 2008 4x2 LE Pathfinder and have the SAME problem with the steering. The wheel tries to shake itself out of my hands when hitting a bump at highway speeds. Very unnerving. Any resolution out there?
  • My daughter had leased the 2004 Pathfinder because
    she liked the first one she had when she was in college. ( 1997 Model Year )
    Her 2004 lease is up and at this moment looking at another SUV. Her experience with the Pathfinder and re-acurring engine noise problems, Cd changer problem, the high service costs ....and the way she was treated by the Valley Stream, Long Island NY dealership service left her negative about Nissan.

    She had a standard 30,000 mile service checkup that cost $600.00. three weeks later when she had and she had to renew her inspection sticker, They found
    two badly worn belts ( $150.00 )that had to be replaced...Three weeks after the
    the service done at Nissan !!!!

    I have had six Toyota 4-Runners since 1989. Had few if any problems over the years
    and will buy another one when my 2006 expires. This has been a reliable SUV
    and I would highly recommend it.
  • I am looking at buying an older model 4runner or Pathfinder (around 1990ish) little earlier or later doesnt really matter to me. I have been recomended the 4runner by a few people due to it being to common and supposedly reliable. but i dont know alot either way. Does anyone have any suggestions for which one is a better car around the 1990 mark?

  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    So this is more for folks shopping used since Toyota recently released their revised 2010 4Runner. I gave the 2010 a look and while some things are improved, it's bigger, slower, and overall couldn't convince me to cough up the extra dough to go new. I like to buy very lightly used and keep the coin in my pocket.

    I haven't seen many folks talking about the '08+ Pathfinder here which received an updated dash/exterior so I thought I would chime in.

    I have owned a lot of Toyota's over the years. Wife has a GX470 currently and I was coming out of a Tundra. Never owned a Nissan before.

    The 4R is very aged in the dash/controls/layout department. Someone said it looks like a cockpit and that's about right. Fairly straight-up dash with small buttons, old-school HVAC display, and not much beyond the basics. PF has a nice big LCD screen which gives you mpg, maintenance reminders, actual psi in tires, XM song name/artist, etc. You can control a lot of features through the menus, like auto headlamp timing. Nice touches on the SE include auto-dimming review mirror, power pedals, backup camera, and full power seat.

    PF interior is not as high of a quality materials as 4R. The PF has a great design though with very good style and good controls. The only neg to the PF ergonomics is the knob to roll through XM/FM channels is a bit of a stretch (and I have long arms). You can roll through the presets with the steering wheel button, but not all channels. The other neg to the 4R to me is that it just felt smaller inside and more enclosed. Seems like the windshield was too close or something.

    The cargo area on the PF with 3rd row seats folded is nice utility grade plastics, but stuff slides around really easy. The 3rd row seats on the 4R aren't useful at all in my book because they don't fold flat which is where I want them 80% of the time. With 3rd row out, 4R has better cargo area and is carpeted which I prefer.

    I was only shopping V6 models. I won't tow more than 5k with this and it's mainly my daily-driver. While I need good performance (I do a lot of short two-lane passing) the V6's are both adequate. PF V6 is stronger than 4R in most every category, although the 4R transmission is a better shifter. It holds gears longer and downshifts just when it should. PF has a good manual mode though which makes up for some of that. It's clearly geared more toward fuel economy as it likes to stay in the upper gears more but it's not hard to convince to downshift either. PF makes more noise at WOT than the 4R but it's not a bad noise at all. In fact the PF V6 has a nice growl when you get on it but otherwise is very quiet. Highway cruising, both are reasonably quiet.

    Handling is also a big deal for me because my commute is 60 miles of twisty mountain 2-laners. The 4R Sport had excellent handling and ride control, which was largely due to the XREAS suspension. Very impressive however I've seen a lot of failures of those shocks which are expensive and don't have aftermarket options. I probably would have bought that feature though simply because it was probably worth any potential problems. Comparing base suspension, the PF handles better than 4R but it's not quite as sophisticated. It has a little more hop when you hit bumps and not quite as controlled of a ride. Steering in the PF is very good, maybe a little tighter than the 4R but again the slight hop when hitting bumps comes through the steering more. Both are very good, particularly considering they're riding a truck platform. Yes I probably would have appreciated something like a Murano or Highlander more in the handling/ride department, but neither meet my needs for 4x4 or towing.

    Deal breaker: Seat comfort

    I have read a lot of complaints about the seats in the 4R. Once sitting in them, I couldn't believe how bad it was. Seat is not upright enough and headroom is tight. Also, the seat cushions are very short and provide no thigh support. My wife has a GX470 (same platform as 4R) so I really couldn't imagine there was that much of a difference, but apparently the GX and 4R are completely different in the seats and head room. I drove every model 4R out there and the seats were the same regardless of cloth/leather/power. I'm tall so I'm sure that makes it worse, but it basically ruled out the 4R for me regardless of anything else. PF seats had more power options, good lumbar, bigger seat, and more upright. Between all that and the power pedals there is no problem finding a very comfy spot.

    Had the seats been more comfortable it would have made a more difficult decision but I think I still would have gone for the PF. The extra features, better performance, and nicer interior really was hard to pass up.

    Found a very low mileage private party 2008 PF SE with even more features than I wanted for about $8k off a new one. Got 22mpg on the trip home so can't complain.
  • agnostoagnosto Posts: 205
    Did you sit in a 2010 4Runner? I own the 2010 4Runner Limited and the seats are very comfortable and I am 6'4". Also, about Nissans, talking about personal experience, I would not even get one even if it would be offered to me 100% free...
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    See sentence number two in my post. I looked over a 2010 SR5 4x4, drove it, and while they have improved several areas (seat comfort for one) I didn't feel it was worth the cost of going new. The dash (as in many new Toys) did not impress me at all. We pay cash for our vehicles (unless there's really a good finance offer) so it's hard to really justify the price swing between new/used. The wife likes them brand spanking new but she keeps them a lot longer than I do.

    I really haven't had any wonderful experiences with Toyota since about 1994 so I don't buy into the reliability thing. Our GX470 has had quite a few more repairs than expected (including a transaxle at 70k miles) and the steering rack was on it's way out on my Tundra at 50k miles. I'll go with what I like best and let the reliability chips fall where they may. I have some other reasons I leaned towards the Nissan over Toyota this time but they don't directly play into this comparison. If I was sold on buying new, it would have been a more difficult decision.
  • Very good compression.

    I am in a market to buy a new 2010 TE 4Runner and I am still in agreement with you. Wrt reliability, I have a 1993 4Runner since brand new and I am hoping somewhat of similar results.

    All my family and friends own Toyota and I must say I agree that Toyota’s quality has been dimensioning from experience as well as reviews. My wife’s 2007 V6 Camry Sport is an example. However, similar to agnosto I have had poor experience with Nissan. I do not like change or regularly repair vehicles as I see them as functional products. Not get me wrong, looks are important but secondary to me personally. As I said I have been running my 4runner for 17 years using it for every day use as well as hunting and fishing though out year.

    In my humble view, here is how two compare:

    Nissan PF,
    Modern stylish looks – internal & external
    Much better options
    Better on the Road performance
    Very poor gas mileage
    Poor longevity
    Average reliability

    Toyota 4Runner
    Best off road performance
    Best longevity
    Best fuel economy in its class
    Ugly styling – in and out
    Poor options
    Below average on road handeling on base model
    Average engine performance – power and acceleration
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    I pretty much agree with your pros/cons although I'm doing quite good on fuel with the PF. It's rated 14/20 and i'm averaging 19 on my commute. My Tundra was rated 14/17 and I averaged 14 on the same drive.
  • jluskjlusk Posts: 2
    I am on the ledge about to jump into an '09 Pathfinder. I am trying to find out everything I can about them thru current and former owners. You have given me some good info agnosto. But there are quite a few Toyota fans saying otherwise. We are a Nissan family. We've owned 2003 and 2005 XTerras and loved them both. My wife drives a 2007 Sentra and it's been great. So I've only looked at the Pathfinder and Xterra. I worked out the deal for the Pathfinder and am about to close it on Monday but I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. What kind of mileage will I get. What should I expect with maintanence costs and schedule? I've read that the PF weighs in at about 5000lbs. Is it sluggish, cumbersome or succeptable to any related issues? Any input from anybody with firsthand knowledge is GREATLY appreciated.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    I'm assuming you've driven the PF before I would think you'd be familiar with performance etc. If you haven't then you really should before buying. That being said, there's nothing cumbersome or sluggish about it. Performance is quite good even with the weight. My only advice on buying used is to watch our for rental units. This goes for both PF and 4R because the vast majority of late-model used right now are rental returns. A quick glance at the car fax will show this and they're usually "S" or very basic SR5 models for the 4R. I won't buy a rental return because they're usually higher mileage, mediocre condition, and questionably maintained. I bought my PF SE from a private party with documented service history.
  • I recommend that you read the Lemon Aid Car guide and it talks about the common problems that you should look for. You will find it in any book store.

    Wrt to gas mileage, my friend owns one which we use for soft outdoor activities. Gas consumption is very poor.

    As for rental, be VERY CAREFUL. These vehicles are part time 4WD and should not be driven in dry road condition. Failure to do so will cause serious and costly damage to drivetrain. The damage often shows itself in later years of ownership. People renting 4x4 vehicle often know very little about them and experiment on these trucks.

    Wrt car fax, this report ONLY shows what has been reported. Accidents are often unreported and resolved between two parties to avoid increase in insurance premiums. These accidents will not appear since they have not been reported.

    Good Luck,
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    At first glance, it does seem like the PF is consuming a lot of fuel. However, the tank is a relatively small 21 gallons and the gauge seems to be very conservative. I've yet to buy more than 16 gallons even with it on empty. Doing the math though it has been getting 18-20 mpg through 2,000 miles. Far better than my previous commuter so I can't complain. How you drive (and where) will have the biggest effect on fuel consumption.
  • jluskjlusk Posts: 2
    I agree it is a nice ride despite its weight. Thank you for bringing up the rental scenario. That is one question I did not ask and is a very scary prospect to me.
  • what about leased suvs? are those something to stay away from
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,238
    edited December 2010
    Obviusly there are different levels of desirability. Best bet is a cherry private party purchase with excellent maintenance history and a prior owner you can chat with. Next would be a privately owned trade-in...sometimes you can chat with the previous owner here and they'll generally tell you the truth. Then a leased trade-in, then a rental return. I wouldn't rule out a leased vehicle but generally the previous occupant will have only done the minimum required maintenance (hopefully). I'm not a maintenance freak or anything but the few vehicles I've leased with no intention of buying certainly weren't treated as pleasantly as something I plan to own for awhile.
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