2005 Nissan Pathfinder Photo
Quick Take
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As the SUV market continues to fragment and crossovers take over an ever-increasing portion of the market, the traditional body-on-frame SUV lives on. In the case of the new Pathfinder, it lives on in more serious truck abilities. At the same time, SUVs that still offer trucklike hauling and off-road ability are also getting more road-friendly.

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the Pathfinder for its big brother the Armada, especially if you don’t have an Armada next to it. The lines and proportions are very similar on the outside. Pathfinder gets the same upright, “angle-strut” grille as the rest of the recent Nissan truck family, but in back, there’s a slightly minivan-like chiseled look with taillights at the side. In keeping with Nissan SUV tradition, door handles for the back doors are at the back of the doors, halfway up. There’s no particular advantage of this setup, but it makes for more clean, uninterrupted sheetmetal.

Moving in the opposite direction of most SUVs, the Pathfinder gives up its unit-body construction in favor of a fully boxed light-truck ladder frame setup that’s basically a shortened version of the Armada/Titan/QX56 platform, called F-Alpha. But, as handling is never a strong suit for body-on-frame utes, the Pathfinder goes to a modern (for light trucks) double-wishbone setup front and back, with coil-over shocks in front and an offset spring-and-shock configuration in the back, plus stabilizer bars front and back.

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