Should You Take the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder Off Road?

The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder was a great off-road vehicle when it came out in 2005, and it’s still one of the best ones you can buy.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Nov 23, 2022
The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder SE Off-Road is one of the ultimate off-roading machines money can buy, especially if you’re on a budget. Equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine powered through a tried-and-true four-wheel drive, the ‘05 Pathfinder sits 9.2 inches off the ground, making it a perfect SUV for off-roading.
The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder’s second-highest trim is the SE Off-Road. This version of the robust SUV came tuned for off-roading straight out of the box. It was considered the second-best off-road SUV of 2005 by
Car and Driver
, and even then, it was the most affordable out of the 7 vehicles they tested.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should take your 2005 Nissan Pathfinder off-road, wonder no more—even if you don’t have an SE Off-Road version, the lower two trims were still fantastic off-road SUVs.
Here with a review and rating on the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder’s off-road capabilities is
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Can the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder go off-road?

Absolutely! The Nissan Pathfinder was geared toward drivers with the desire to tackle tough terrain, as all the best SUVs are, and the SE Off-Road trim was ready for the toughest 4x4 trail riding, thanks in part to its high ground clearance.
2005 Nissan Pathfinders were built with either 2WD or 4WD drivetrains, and you’ll likely want a 4WD one for intense off-roading. They cost around $6,000 on the used market, although the SE Off-Road with 4WD will fetch a higher price than a lower trim with 2WD.
Needless to say, if you can find one in good condition in the wild, you should definitely bring that 2005 Nissan Pathfinder home and get it geared up for some mudding.
But just what is it about the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder that makes it such a good SUV for off-roading? Let’s take a look.

Ground clearance

A 2005 Nissan Pathfinder SE Off-Road has a minimum ground clearance of 9.2 inches, which is a perfect amount of clearance for a vehicle expected to dip and weave through mud and over uneven ground
What exactly are we talking about when we mention “ground clearance”? Ground clearance is the distance between the lowest point on the car’s chassis and the ground. The higher ground clearance you have, the higher the obstacles you can drive over.
Somewhere between 8.8 and 10.8 inches of ground clearance is recommended for consistent off-roading, according to driving experts. To compare, the 2005
Jeep Grand Cherokee
only has a ground clearance of 8.0 inches.


The 2005 Nissan Pathfinder came equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that can seriously crank it forward, achieving 291 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. That means it’s providing a solid amount of traction to the drivetrain, allowing your wheels to confidently push you out of almost any tight spot.


A 2005 Nissan Pathfinder LE would have been originally fitted with 17-inch P265/65R17 tires. These are good for some off-road situations, but not as optimal as the SE trim’s 16-inch P265/70R16s or the upgraded all-terrain 75R16s that came with the Off-Road Package.
The XE was equipped with 16-inch P245/75R16 tires.
Remember that different tires are meant to be used in specific scenarios, so having at least a set of winter tires is very important if you’re likely to experience slippery weather.


All four of the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder’s trims came with the same V6 engine powering either a 2WD or 4WD drivetrain. This engine produces 270 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, which is plenty of power for your off-roading needs.


The 2005 Pathfinder also has great approach and departure angles, meaning it can ascend and descend steep hills without losing control. Here are those terms’ specific definitions:
  • Approach angle: The maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: The maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
A 2005 Nissan Pathfinder has an impressive approach angle of 32.6 degrees and departure angle is 24.0 degrees. It’s also equipped with hill-descent control, which senses your speed going downhill and adjusts engine output to improve control, along with a hill holder feature that helps prevent roll-back when accelerating up a steep incline.

Off-road rating: Trail Boss

And with that, we can complete our evaluation of the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder’s off-road worthiness, summarized by
super-technical, and definitely-definitive DIRT rating system:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
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Jerry gives the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder—especially with 4WD in SE Off-Road form—a T rating for being one of the best trail-riding 4x4 vehicles of the 2000s!
You should be aware that the 2005 Pathfinder won’t have nearly as robust safety features as a newer SUV, but if you’re a confident driver, this really is one of the ultimate budget off-road warriors

The best off-road alternatives to the 2005 Nissan Pathfinder

Interested in other options? Here are some models that might also serve you well as off-roading mainstays.
Best affordable alternative
2005 Nissan Frontier 4x4
Great little off-roader and cheaper than a Pathfinder
Best eco-friendly alternative
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe
One of the best new fuel-saving 4x4s
Best alternative for serious off-roading
2022 Ram 1500 Rebel
The dream off-road truck

How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Now that you’re looking forward to kicking around some serious mud with your classic SUV, you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve got a good enough insurance plan to cover you in whatever damaging scenario may arrive.
And since you’re already here, you might as well try finding a great insurance plan for your Pathfinder by shopping with the
app. You’ll have access to a whole plethora of the most competitive quotes from over 50 different insurance companies, and side-by-side comparison will allow you to save as much money as possible.
As a matter of fact, Jerry users save over $800a year on average on their premium!
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