Nissan SUV Concept Finds New Path

Developed to introduce a new generation to the proud Pathfinder name, a sleekly designed Nissan Pathfinder concept vehicle was introduced recently at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The show vehicle also provides more than a few clues about the all-new production model, which is slated to reach Nissan dealerships this fall.

“If there is one constant among the first quarter century-plus of Pathfinder’s existence, it has been its ability to innovate, with each generation evolving to meet the changing needs of the customer,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. “With the upcoming, fourth-generation model, we’re about to re-invent Pathfinder again. We’ve created a vehicle with an extraordinary balance of SUV capability, thoughtful technology and premium comfort to lead the segment once again—and help owners accomplish more in the real world, not just off-road.”

As showcased by the concept, the 2013 Pathfinder gets a comprehensive makeover that extends from its aerodynamic and more sculpted sheet metal to its lightweight, unibody construction. The former gives the Pathfinder a less utilitarian appearance that will better match the preferences of today’s customers, with front and rear spoilers, strong wheel arches, a larger greenhouse, and a more sophisticated front fascia and grille that better complement teammates like the Nissan Murano and Nissan Rogue. As for the latter, which marks a return to the unibody design of the second-gen Pathfinder, the result will be notably improved fuel efficiency and driving dynamics, but without a sacrifice in capabilities.

“With the new engine and CVT combination’s unprecedented efficiency, it maintains nearly the same horsepower as the previous generation’s larger displacement V6, as well as a similar driving feel,” added Castignetti, who went on to confirm that: “It also retains its ability to tow boats, jet skis, trailers and a variety of other recreational gear, and its role as an excellent vehicle for unfavorable driving conditions with four-wheel drive.”

The Pathfinder keeps its three-row, seven-passenger cabin, too, although it’s been upgraded for even more versatility—and increased infotainment/connectivity solutions—for the 2013 production model.

And while Nissan didn’t provide specific details, the company indicated that the Pathfinder’s refined six-cylinder engine, mated to Nissan’s next-gen CVT (continuously variable transmission), is expected to deliver a healthy 25 percent jump in fuel-economy over the previous V6.

“The new Pathfinder carries on the tradition of the adventure-ready vehicles that have come before—offering a new level of family enjoyment and engagement that is just right for today’s real-world, everyday uses,” concluded Castignetti. “After more than 25 years, Pathfinder is ready to tackle new terrain and the new challenges of modern family lives.”