Since 1986, the Pathfinder's gone from truck-based underpinnings, to a brief stint as a unibody vehicle in its second generation, then back to truck running gear with the recent edition. Now it's moving back into the car-like world, a switch like the one recently executed by the strong-selling Ford Explorer.
With the change, the Pathfinder joins Nissan's big FF-L platform family, like its siblings, the 2013 Infiniti JX and the current Nissan Murano, as well as the Maxima and Altima sedans. Like those vehicles, too, the new Pathfinder will sport a V-6 engine paired with a CVT. Power output and gas mileage haven't been released, but Nissan does say this Pathfinder will be 25 percent better on EPA combined cycle than the 2012 model--a big reason, no doubt, for the changes under the skin.
On the outside, the Pathfinder's more aerodynamic body, its smooth new curves help with fuel economy and position it firmly as a family-style crossover. The elongated sideview looks better than the stubbier Murano--and the Pathfinder has a nice, pared-down grille in place of the Murano's shiny set of braces.As it's now more of a car than a true SUV, it's expected the Pathfinder will shed some of its more rugged off-road talents for better handling and ride quality on pavement. Still, Nissan is calling its available traction system four-wheel drive, but whether it has a low range or not remains to be seen. The biggest change with the Pathfinder will be in interior space and flexibility. This edition will able to carry seven passengers thanks to third-row seats, just as before, but appears to have better packaging for those third-row passengers. Nissan calls it a full-sizer inside, which pits it against vehicles from the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, to Explorer and Ford Flex, to Dodge Durango and Chevrolet Traverse.
Nissan hasn't revealed many dimensions or details, but it does offer that a panoramic roof will be on the features list.
The new 2013 Pathfinder goes on sale in the fall.