Now that Jeep, GM, and Ford have all brought their new or redesigned mid-size SUVs to market, it’s Nissan’s turn to step it up with its Pathfinder. The Pathfinder maybe one of Nissan’s oldest nameplates, having survived for 25 years mostly because of its capability, iconic looks, and a strong following of loyal customers.
January 9, 2012, Nissan will show off the Nissan Pathfinder Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Nissan is calling it a concept, but we’re pretty sure what comes to market next fall will look surprising close to what appears on stage next month.
The buzz is the Pathfinder will switch from a body-on-frame platform to a unibody — like many other manufacturers have — to save weight and create a more car-like ride and handling experience. In addition, a streamlined aerodynamic body will help with fuel economy numbers, which is good considering the current Pathfinder has a less-than stellar rating of 14/20 city/highway for 4×4 models.
Nissan has announced that the Pathfinder will remain a 7-passenger vehicle, and will feature 4WD to keep its capability image intact. From previous spy shots, it appears Nissan has moved back to a traditional on-the-door handle for the second row, a design element we hardily endorse. Never liked the awkward, hard-to-reach handle on the Pathfinder or Armada SUVs.
Current Pathfinders are powered by a 5.6-liter V8 or a 4.0-liter V6. It will be interesting to see what powerplant(s) Nissan drops in the bay. Fuel economy is important, but so is keeping the Pathfinder’s impressive 7,000-lb max towing rating.
To stay in the loop, go to http://www.nissanusa.com/all-new-pathfinder, then check back at CarBuzzard.com after NAIAS media days for the full story.