The Pathfinder was available with rear (XE only) or 4-wheel drive (XE and SE), all 4-doors and all equipped with Nissan's 3.0-liter sohc V6 engine, tuned for truck use. A specially designed intake manifold was used to optimize the engine's low- and mid-rpm pulling power, critical in off-road and trailer-towing applications. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard, with an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic as an option.
Positioned at the upper end of the compact-sport/utility market, major competitors for the Pathfinder included the Toyota 4Runner, Mitsubishi Montero and the Isuzu Trooper/Honda Passport twins. Buyers looking specifically for an imported utility vehicle have ignored the Jeep, Ford, Chevy and GMC offerings, as well as the Ford-built Mazda Navajo, which was only available with 2 doors. The Oldsmobile Bravada and Land Rover Discovery were also interesting luxury alternatives.
Power disc/drum brakes with rear-wheel ABS were standard on most models. Popular options were grouped into four packages (XE Sport Package, Convenience Package, SE Off-Road Package and Leather Trim Package) that would allow base and midrange models to be optioned up almost to the next level.
Introduced in 1994 was the LE trim level. It came with 4-wheel drive, as well as standard rear discs that were optional on all other models.
Changes for 1995 were mostly a juggling of trim packages. The luxury-oriented LE trim package was extended from 4-wheel drive (4x4) only models to also rear-wheel drive (4x2) models.
As of April 30, 1994:
- $19,669 (1994 Nissan Pathfinder XE without 4-wheel drive)
- $21,339 (1994 Nissan Pathfinder XE)
- $25,249 (1994 Nissan Pathfinder SE)
- $29,239 (1994 Nissan Pathfinder LE)
As of late 1994:
- $20,589 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder XE 4x2)
- $22,229 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder XE 4x4)
- $26,539 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder SE)
- $28,059 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x2)
- $30,359 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4)
As of June 1, 1995:
- $21,549 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder XE 4x2)
- $23,149 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder XE 4x4)
- $27,549 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder SE)
- $28,849 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x2)
- $31,249 (1995 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4)
As of January 12, 1996:
- $22,399 (1996 Nissan Pathfinder XE 4x2)
- $24,399 (1996 Nissan Pathfinder XE 4x4)
- $27,549 (1996 Nissan Pathfinder SE)
- $29,699 (1996 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x2)
- $32,129 (1996 Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4)