The North American first generation Pathfinder came in two different bodies, and shared styling and most components with the Nissan Hardbody Truck. In the US from 1986.5 to 1989 Pathfinders came in a two door body. In early 1990 it became a four door in the United States. Some US 1990 Pathfinder's came with the two door body, but they are rare. The 2-door version was available in Canada until 1992. From 86.5 to 1989 Pathfinders were available with either the Nissan VG30I V6 (145hp (108kW), 180lb·ft (244N·m) torque), or the Z24(106hp (79kW)) I4. 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 153hp (114kW) and 180lb·ft (244N·m) torque. Also in 1990, the Z24 was replaced with the KA24E. The first generation continued until 1995. This generation also came out in the 2.7l I4 Diesel Engine known as the TD27 with the option of a turbocharger to increase the power rating.
The first generation pathfinders are (in salted road locales) notorious for the frame above and behind the rear wheels rusting away and killing such a fine vehicle.
A facelift occurred in 1990 when the 4-door model arrived. When the 2-door model disappeared from Canada in 1992, the Pathfinder was sold only as a 4-door in 1993, and the bumper got a minor facelift that time.
The second generation was introduced in 1996 with more rounded styling. The second generation Pathfinder was completely redesigned from the first generation, switching from body on frame construction to unibody construction. The engine was upgraded to the VG33E, with 168hp (125kW) and 196lb·ft (266N·m) torque. For the 1999 1/2 model year, the Pathfinder was freshened. 2001 brought a new 240hp (179kW) V6 engine, the VQ35DE. With its facelift, the Pathfinder also grew in size, making way for the compact Xterra.
The Pathfinder was facelifted in 2000, and then again in 2002, when it switched to a newer grille. Another facelift occurred in 2003, when the current Nissan logo was added and received a bolder grille versus the 2002 model.