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The Nissan Pathfinder is a crossover SUV manufactured by Nissan Motors since 1986, derived from Nissan's compact pickup truck platform. The Pathfinder is slotted in size between the Murano and Armada or Patrol, but in price between the Xterra and Murano. The Pathfinder's traditional Japanese competitor is the Toyota 4Runner.

First generation WD21 series (1985-1995)

The North American first generation Pathfinder came in two different bodies and shared styling and most components with the Nissan Hardbody Truck. Built on a ladder-type frame, the Pathfinder was Nissan's response to the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Bronco, Jeep Cherokee, and non-American SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner, Isuzu Trooper, and the Mitsubishi Montero. WD21 Pathfinders were available in both 2WD and 4WD configurations. In the US from 1986.5 to 1989 Pathfinders came with a two door body. In early 1990 it became a four door in the United States. Some US 1990 Pathfinders came with the two door body, but they are rare. Before the Pathfinder there was the Nissan Bushmaster (an aftermarket conversion of the Datsun Truck), but they are rare as well.

When the four door version was introduced, Nissan chose to conceal the door handles as a part of the "C" pillar trim to visually make it appear like a two door truck with a camper shell, with the conventional door handles on the front doors. This design tradition is still used on all Nissan SUVs currently offered, including the Nissan Armada and the Nissan Xterra.

The 2-door version was available in Canada until 1990. From 86.5 to 1989 Pathfinders were available with either the Nissan VG30i 3.0 L V6 (143 hp (107 kW), 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) torque), or the Nissan Z24i 2.4 L (106 hp (79 kW)) I4 (the same engine choices as the Nissan Hardbody Truck). In 1990 the V6 received an upgrade from throttle body injection to a multi point fuel injection system. This engine was known as the VG30E, and was rated at 153 hp (114 kW) and 180 lb·ft (244 N·m) torque. Also in 1990, the Z24i was replaced with the KA24E. The first generation continued until 1995. In certain countries this generation also came with a 2.7 L I4 Diesel Engine known as the TD27 with the option of a turbocharger to increase the power rating.