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Why does the R51 get so much hate from reviewers?

 
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brickbox



Joined: 24 Oct 2019
Posts: 36
Location: Rust Belt

PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:26 pm    Post subject: Why does the R51 get so much hate from reviewers? Reply with quote

I have put about 2.5k miles on the R51 thus far. Outside of the PO being morons who I’m pretty sure have never ever washed the car the entire time they had it (rust is turning out to be a real PITA on this thing!!!!! I got the rust on the rear quarter panels, cut new metal welded
And fixed the right way, now I’m finding there’s some bubbling on the bottom of the door sills in a couple of spots ), I really like the R51

But why do the automotive magazines hate it so much? I was reading reviews on the vehicle and the “experts” complain about the horrible gas mileage, the interior layout, the seat padding or the one who didn’t realize the step in height of the vehicle and kept hitting their head on the inner door line (seriously?).

It’s a truck based platform, so yeah guess what it rides like a truck. But quite a sophisticated one at that. Or that it’s got inferior grade interior plastic (have these folks ever sat in a Chevy or a FCA product?) or how about the lack of sufficient padding (I still don’t get this one). My personal favorite was one reviewer griping how the rear door handles are placed on the door side making it difficult for kids to open it (didn’t every pathfinder since they were launched in the US have it up there?)

And for gas mileage, the R51s are also chided for being horrendous. I didn’t see much of an improvement for the “much lauded” Jeep GC/Durango twins for 2011 not to mention that no one talks about their terrible reliability for 2011/12.

For price, capability, features on vehicles of the era, I’m don’t think there’s a better alternative than the ‘11/‘12 R51s
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ssobol



Joined: 24 Feb 2019
Posts: 50
Location: No. VA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Why does the R51 get so much hate from reviewers? Reply with quote

brickbox wrote:
... And for gas mileage, the R51s are also chided for being horrendous. ...


I wouldn't complain if my R51 got better gas mileage.
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palmerwmd
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Joined: 31 Jan 2017
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reviewers nurtured on crossovers will bemoan the R51.

But there are many positive reviews as well from reviews who appreciate a strong body-on-frame platform.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JI9F37ZBJ8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTtigIhgGy0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDViFaU4NFY&t=
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ShipFixer



Joined: 24 May 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh I don't know. I think timing was against it on one hand, as a "gas crisis" hit a few years after release. I picked mine up for only $2K more than a similar year XTerra in 2009, as everyone abandoned body on frame vehicles. But on the other hand, the cost cutting decisions by Nissan just hold it back.

A stock R51 thunders over each and every little bump in the road, and wallows on its soft rear coils. Why? Nissan didn't put $20 of damping material in front fenders on their more premium SUV. There is damping under the body that doesn't exist on Frontiers, which is wierd because it doesn't really need it so much there if you've seen how thick that metal is. They inexcusably used the same spring rates as the Frontier/XTerra in a nearly 800 lb heavier truck. Every time I see a stock R51 drive by, 95% of the time it's sitting low on its rear wheels and annoys me.

When I first picked up my truck ('05 with 28K miles on it), it bottomed out the rear springs so badly at speed that it could upset the front end on the highway. Airlift bags weren't just for cargo, they were a necessity to keep it tracking correctly.

They used the same brakes as the much lighter vehicles too; under-specced brakes is kind of a Nissan tradition I guess, but wow. It's not just that the brakes are underwhelming, if I use them pretty hard with long duration and don't keep my lugnuts evenly torqued I can eat rotors in thousands of miles, not tens of thousands.

When I replaced the steering rack bushings, the OEM design just makes my head hurt. I'm pleased with the PRG upgrade but it's clear Nissan went far too conservative in bushing design to preserve the rack against driver damage vs. steering feel.

I did go test drive a bunch of things last month when I heard my timing chain tensioner noise come back. If you put a handful of my mods together (Bilsteins, Moog springs, steering damper, and damping in at least the front fenders), my R51 is a fantastic driver. With the intake spacer and big radiator it's hard to beat up the hill, too. Aside from the Mazda CX-9 (which is a little short on cargo space for bikes and surfing for me), I didn't drive a single thing that felt better than how my R51 is now. The new Ford Explorer is a shock upgrade away but it's so new even Bilstein doesn't have anything ready for it yet. I didn't like it $47K more than I like my truck, for sure. And that turbo four sounds completely awful when it's warming up.

(If you get a chance though, test drive an Explorer ST...that thing with improved shocks would be crazy awesome.)

I could easily afford a new vehicle, but I love my Pathfinder and don't have any indication of near term failure so I keep fixing it. But I am annoyed that I had to fix design flaws and do relatively inexpensive mods that I think it should have come with from the factory to get it where it is. Imagine if the Pathfinder with its independent rear suspension had slightly improved steering, bigger brakes, and just a touch stiffer springs back in 2005?

I think the fuel economy side would have killed sales as they did for all vehicles back then (mostly because the average consumer fails to whip out a calculator and realize that even at $4/gallon, they're not saving huge money by prioritizing fuel efficiency), but it would have sold a lot better than it did. For sure I think there's a chance we'd still be seeing it for sale next to the 370Z instead of the R52.
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2005 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4x4: XTP Intake Manifold Spacer, PRG motor mounts, Moog springs, Bilstein shocks, Air Lift 1000, PRG Delrin steering rack bushings, CSF all aluminum radiator, SecondSkin sound deadening and insulation.
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palmerwmd
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could also easily afford another vehicle.. but whats really out there among the new vehicles thats better than a well sorted Pathy?
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brickbox



Joined: 24 Oct 2019
Posts: 36
Location: Rust Belt

PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ShipFixer wrote:
Oh I don't know. I think timing was against it on one hand, as a "gas crisis" hit a few years after release. I picked mine up for only $2K more than a similar year XTerra in 2009, as everyone abandoned body on frame vehicles. But on the other hand, the cost cutting decisions by Nissan just hold it back.

A stock R51 thunders over each and every little bump in the road, and wallows on its soft rear coils. Why? Nissan didn't put $20 of damping material in front fenders on their more premium SUV. There is damping under the body that doesn't exist on Frontiers, which is wierd because it doesn't really need it so much there if you've seen how thick that metal is. They inexcusably used the same spring rates as the Frontier/XTerra in a nearly 800 lb heavier truck. Every time I see a stock R51 drive by, 95% of the time it's sitting low on its rear wheels and annoys me.

When I first picked up my truck ('05 with 28K miles on it), it bottomed out the rear springs so badly at speed that it could upset the front end on the highway. Airlift bags weren't just for cargo, they were a necessity to keep it tracking correctly.

They used the same brakes as the much lighter vehicles too; under-specced brakes is kind of a Nissan tradition I guess, but wow. It's not just that the brakes are underwhelming, if I use them pretty hard with long duration and don't keep my lugnuts evenly torqued I can eat rotors in thousands of miles, not tens of thousands.

When I replaced the steering rack bushings, the OEM design just makes my head hurt. I'm pleased with the PRG upgrade but it's clear Nissan went far too conservative in bushing design to preserve the rack against driver damage vs. steering feel.

I did go test drive a bunch of things last month when I heard my timing chain tensioner noise come back. If you put a handful of my mods together (Bilsteins, Moog springs, steering damper, and damping in at least the front fenders), my R51 is a fantastic driver. With the intake spacer and big radiator it's hard to beat up the hill, too. Aside from the Mazda CX-9 (which is a little short on cargo space for bikes and surfing for me), I didn't drive a single thing that felt better than how my R51 is now. The new Ford Explorer is a shock upgrade away but it's so new even Bilstein doesn't have anything ready for it yet. I didn't like it $47K more than I like my truck, for sure. And that turbo four sounds completely awful when it's warming up.

(If you get a chance though, test drive an Explorer ST...that thing with improved shocks would be crazy awesome.)

I could easily afford a new vehicle, but I love my Pathfinder and don't have any indication of near term failure so I keep fixing it. But I am annoyed that I had to fix design flaws and do relatively inexpensive mods that I think it should have come with from the factory to get it where it is. Imagine if the Pathfinder with its independent rear suspension had slightly improved steering, bigger brakes, and just a touch stiffer springs back in 2005?

I think the fuel economy side would have killed sales as they did for all vehicles back then (mostly because the average consumer fails to whip out a calculator and realize that even at $4/gallon, they're not saving huge money by prioritizing fuel efficiency), but it would have sold a lot better than it did. For sure I think there's a chance we'd still be seeing it for sale next to the 370Z instead of the R52.


You have a lot of solid points here. As for under braking, I came from a R50 QX4 to the R51. So 4 wheel discs were a significant improvement. But I do agree with you that the vehicle is generally under braked. I debated switching to the V8 brakes but decided against because then I wouldn’t be able to run my winter tires which are on 16” rims.

As for struts and shocks, I think I might need to do the front struts sometime in the next year. I was looking at the KYB strut plus quick strut assembly - is the Bilstein with Moog springs a much better upgrade instead? I was going to spring for Bily’s in the back irrespective, although I’m going to skip the airlift because I don’t tow anything significant.

Also, where did you put the noise dampers in the wheel wells?

This will most likely be my last pathfinder because I’ve driven the R52 and the Q60 variant. Both were fine, but like you said, the CX-9 would definitely be a much better replacement after a few years.

Final thing, the PRG bushings provide that much more of a significant upgrade in feel?
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ShipFixer



Joined: 24 May 2009
Posts: 517
Location: Arlington, VA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

brickbox wrote:

As for struts and shocks, I think I might need to do the front struts sometime in the next year. I was looking at the KYB strut plus quick strut assembly - is the Bilstein with Moog springs a much better upgrade instead? I was going to spring for Bily’s in the back irrespective, although I’m going to skip the airlift because I don’t tow anything significant.

I definitely think so. Only reason to do the KYB shocks is either a.) cost or b.) unavailability of a spring compressor. I would do the Bilstein shocks in my OEM springs before doing the KYB (which are OEM) quick struts...the springs should be the same. The Bilsteins are much closer to ideal damping in most situations on the road.

I don't tow anything either; my Airlift bags are really there for load leveling. With the OEM springs I had to have them to keep the back from bottoming out. Even with 0 psi and the caps on they help a *lot.*

Quote:
Also, where did you put the noise dampers in the wheel wells?

I use Second Skin damplifier inside the fenders (the sheet metal). I blanket my fenders and sheet metal with damping but it doesn't take that much to kill 80% of the noise. You are looking for the center of resonance here and don't need a bunch of accelerometers to do it Very Happy The roughly-middle of the panel is the right place to start; put a square there, then knock with your knuckles around to feel where there is lots of resonance. Put more there, etc.

It's tough on the right side because of the windshield wiper tank, but it can be done. I slipped the sheets up then pressed them in place as best I could.

I did put closed cell foam in both fenders as well but it's not as dramatic an improvement as the damping.

Quote:
Final thing, the PRG bushings provide that much more of a significant upgrade in feel?

Absolutely. It's especially noticeable going downhill at highway speed with a load. No more wandering!
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2005 Nissan Pathfinder SE 4x4: XTP Intake Manifold Spacer, PRG motor mounts, Moog springs, Bilstein shocks, Air Lift 1000, PRG Delrin steering rack bushings, CSF all aluminum radiator, SecondSkin sound deadening and insulation.
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