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Old 01-24-2006, 05:57 PM   #1
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Talking nissan as a tow vehicle

Is anyone using a nissan pathfinder to tow??
We are getting a 1963 airstream tradewind, 24 footer and were looking into the 2005-2006 nissan pathfinder as a possible tow vehicle.
Any advice is appreciated.
Thanks
Mitch
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:18 PM   #2
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Hi Mitch -- Welcome to the Forums!

Small to mid-size SUVs suffer due to inadequate wheelbase and resultant troubles for handling in sudden and emergency situations. Yet when I stand next to a Pathfinder it does not seem -- let's say "mid sized." Yes, trailer brakes should handle the trailer in straight-ahead stopping, but maneuvers will see the trailer pushing an ill-suited TV (tow vehicle) all over the road. You'll probably want to avoid anything 6-cylinder and you may need to look at rear-end differential ratios (3.73? 4.10?).

Read Airstream's FAQs backwards and forwards. It notes your trailer in question has an empty weight of 3500# and a tongue weight of 415#. That is for the empty trailer as it came from the factory without options. You must add propane to the tanks and weight distribution gear right at the tongue, so about all that ends up on the ball and not the axles. With a few hundred pounds of gear on board you could begin to gross something approaching 4500#. 10-15% of gross trailer weight should be (must be!) on the ball -- akin to what a bad idea it is to throw a fletched arrow backward; experience says closer to 15% is most real. Therefore tongue weight is going to be 600-650#.

Looking at http://www.nissanusa.com for the Pathfinder, there is a total lack of useful towing info. The website does say, "Towing performance and speed are affected by vehicle payload, tow weight, road grades and weather conditions, including high temperatures. See owner's manual at dealership before purchase for details." That is mighty loaded and missing much much needed information that a salesman is poorly inclined to provide you (and not well informed about either!).

Nissan's website says the Pathfinder will tow 6000# -- cinch? NOT! Put that out of your mind now and forever. Also ignore GCWR for the time being. The website does not say and their warning leaves all the burden on you to know what you are doing about towing -- hopefully after the purchase if you acknowledge their interest in making the sale. The manual will give you a load capacity for the Pathfinder alone; this is the difference between empty weight and the TV's GVWR. Load capacity is the critical quantity to understand. You cannot safely (within warranty and conditions of keeping your insurability & family healthy) overload beyond the TV's GVWR.

Add together all the weight of family members who will be in the Pathfinder. Add in family pets. Add all options purchased on the Pathfinder above the base model of the specific trimline/engine/tranny combo, because the manual will give different load capacities based on these last points. As one of those options you probably will have to include the 150#-plus weight of a 2" hitch receiver mounted under the back of the vehicle (unless it absolutely is a feature of the trim line, in which case their published load capacity already has subtracted that). 2WD is going to be kinder on the load capacity. Okay -- people + gear in the Pathfinder + options + pets + tongue weight -- if that sum exceeds the load capacity you will have to look at a different TV.

Why do I bad mouth published 'towing capacity' or 'GCWR'? Those numbers are Madison Avenue all the way. I could work out a 6000# load with 10% tongue weight, and with one installed hitch receiver option only and just me in the driver's seat -- I will guarantee that Eddie Arcaro (jockey) as the driver wouldn't take this load of limited usefullness over load capacity. Take the following statement to the bank -- if you never exceed TV load capacity, I would be astounded if a properly configured tow would ever approach 'towing capacity' or 'GCWR.' I'll almost say "impossible" to exceed tow capacity.
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:26 PM   #3
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Bob, "you are truely born again....heck, I may even keep you as a rifeman in my beloved core!"

In all seriousness, Bob said it best. Not much I can add.
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:27 PM   #4
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So steer away from the pathfinder Im guessing. What would be another alternative then? I dont want to suffer too much gaswise and do want the room of an SUV
Any suggestions???
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:28 PM   #5
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Mitch, I agree with Bob 100%. Next to load capacity, the most serious drawback is the wheelbase. I had a '71 Chev Blazer (new) and towed a 24' Kencraft (fairly heavy trailer, but very well built) and had a very bouncy ride, even with the 1000lb equalizer hitch and sway control The wheelbase just was not long enough. Step up to the 4-door Titan with a V8. Darol
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by durans54
So steer away from the pathfinder Im guessing. What would be another alternative then? I dont want to suffer too much gaswise and do want the room of an SUV
Any suggestions???
Chevy Trailblazer V8 EXT, maybe even the inline 6, but call me old school....just like the V8 better...less wear and tear. It has the wheelbase, engine and drivetrain to handle what you need and then some....also has the room you want.

http://www.chevrolet.com/trailblazer/specifications/

You hit it right on though, Pathfinder is a no go.
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by durans54
Is anyone using a nissan pathfinder to tow??
We are getting a 1963 airstream tradewind, 24 footer and were looking into the 2005-2006 nissan pathfinder as a possible tow vehicle.
Any advice is appreciated.
Thanks
Mitch
I have a 68 Trade Wind I am pulling with a F150. My set up is marginal a smaller TV is not a good idea in my opinion. Sorry if thats not what you want to hear....
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:36 PM   #8
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My hunky Titan is for sale... . It seemed ideal, but with the 3750# (empty) 1974 24' Argosy and calculations as outlined above, I could spare adding minimal weight for a topper, bike or my canoe. Aaaaaaargh!!!

A couple herniated cervical disks brought about the purchase of a new Safari 25' SE -- and you better believe the Titan is now over load capacity.

Eric -- moi? A born-aginner TV computation fanatic?? Just like any other folks on the forums who once towed with a Caprice ... . It musta had the "Little Tow" package, eh?

Mitch, be aware that any SUV version of a truck will have less load capacity than the truck; eg, Titan-Armada, Tundra-Sequoia. You'll just have to look at what you must carry to travel, pre-figure weights, ask dealers to show you the owners manual of any model you're considering -- make notes, leave the dealership, work through the calculations and be totally honest with yourself -- all good answers but looking after your success, health and happiness in the end!
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Old 01-24-2006, 08:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Canoe stream
"Little Tow" package, eh?
It did till I modified it, but alas, I couldn't modify it's wheelbase (or at least very easily). She's happier now, just melting rubber on the pavement without that mean nasty 6300lb monster behind her....though her gas mileage hasn't improved much since she lost the shadow, I have now have a new friend at the tire store I see regularly.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:00 PM   #10
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hi durans54 and welcome to airsteamin'

i agree with what's been said by the other resident import bashers.......

step back, and walk away from that pathfinder.........
i know, i know, suv of the year and
THE rig for the hip outdoors yadda yadda......just step away........

given your trailer weight a touareg would pull it......but it would be too long for my tastes....or the t-rex would be too short....

i am in no way suggesting you opt for the vw or cayenne................

BUT they are unibody/over ladder frame combos and do have a nice towing capacity with the factory vw hitch. what is interesting is that its rated the same with or without wd bars and the rating is WITH a fully loaded suv....so it's a pretty impressive rating for a mid size suv....also the vw/porsche has a very short rear overhand so towing is closer to the rear axle...and that's a good thing.

there are a couple of very happy and loyal t-rex users here (devoman and .....) and over on the t rex forum there are several towing folks who love em.......gotta be the v8 though. the v6 is too small and the diesel was put on hold for the usa because the magical way it cleans exhaust has not been proven to work in the usa (it works very well)

later this year the audi version will have a longer wheelbase and the t-rex will follow with a longer wheel base also.....


so this info is just to give you another rig to consider......if you've read my other posts......i like the BIG FORD TRUCK!!

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:33 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies everyone.
I had a 89 chevy suburban but had nothing but problems with it and the mileage sucked big time. I will look into the trailblazer and some other options. Wish there were some smaller diesel options out there.
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Old 01-24-2006, 09:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by durans54
Thanks for all the replies everyone.
I had a 89 chevy suburban but had nothing but problems with it and the mileage sucked big time. I will look into the trailblazer and some other options. Wish there were some smaller diesel options out there.
We had an '85. The 2000s and above are a night and day difference (but you really want to stay at the later 2004 and up due to piston slap with certain engines found in the 3/4 ton and some 1/2 tons). The 3/4 ton Suburban, though GM, are made in Mexico and in over a year, we've had not one issue with it. Typically, in the past if there wasn't some bolt in the trunk, it just wouldn't be a Chevy. We've been very impressed with the QC on our 2004 3/4 Burb.

Neighbor bought a Trailblazer in the fall, just loves the thing.
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Old 07-11-2007, 11:30 PM   #13
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I have a 2005 Pathfinder towing our '73 Overlander 27'. Starting with the 2005 model year the vehicle was significantly upgraded. Before 2005, the Pathfinder was based on a minivan with unibody construction, and a tow capacity of 5000 lbs.

What changed in 2005? It is now 9 inches longer, weighs 1000 lbs more, has a 4.0 litre V6 with 270hp (compared to a 3.3l cranking 168hp), and now has 7 passenger seating. Oh, and a decent factory tow package.

We have been using it for 6 months now, with WD and friction sway. Yes, I understand the physics behind towing, and I know where the limits are for this setup.

My personal opinion? I think we are at the top end of it's towing capacity, as it can struggle on steep inclines where a diesel would not. The five speed transmission is acceptable, and there is not a lot of hunting when towing, but it is not set ideally most likely because the ratios are set for general driving. Gas mileage is terrible unless you learn how to drive conservatively, due to the underpowered engine in some circumstances. And my biggest concern is stability - the vehicle has a high clearance for offroad (real offroad), which means it has bouncier tires and a higher center of gravity which do not cause any issues related to significant sway due to the new wheelbase and stance, but still feels like riding a high buckboard instead of a low stable truck. The biggest improvement in my mind would be a V8, or diesel, or both, to get better power and not tax the engine.

If it wasn't for the overall utility of the vehicle - we have 3 kids and their stuff to cart around every day - I would probably jump in on the Titan.
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Old 07-12-2007, 05:20 AM   #14
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I towed my 1960 Tradewind (3700 lbs loaded) for a year with a 2003 3.5L Pathfinder. It was marginal at best. I felt like I was sitting on eggs every time I towed. It had a factory tow hitch and I added a tranny cooler and brake controller. I made visits to the CAT scales to verify I was keeping the rig well below the 5000 lb tow limit as well as he 9100 lb CGVWR. I never towed with full water tanks. I didn't have sway issues, but with such a short wheel base I continually worried about emergency manuevers. It averaged 11 mpg while towing and and like Mlang905 the speed lugged down anytime I did significant hill climbing.
Last month I bought a Nissan Titan. I've towed once since the Titan and see a MAJOR difference. The Tradewind feels like a gnat on my tail, I barely know its back there. However, like CanoeStream experienced, I'm sure if I purchased a new model AS I would find the Titan overwhelmed. I'll be heading for an F250.
Bottom line, it can be done with significant precautions, but it is far from optimal. if you don't already own a Pathfinder, don't get one with the intent of towing. Treat yourself to something more capable.
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