By Mike Hanley on January 9, 2012
Though it's technically a concept car, the Nissan Pathfinder Concept is about as production-ready as they come. It gives a good idea of what the redesigned Pathfinder will look like when it hits dealerships this fall.
Along with the Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer, the Pathfinder was one of the few remaining body-on-frame midsize SUVs in the U.S. market. Ford switched the Explorer to a car-based unibody architecture with its recent redesign, and Nissan follows suit with the Pathfinder Concept. Off-road and towing enthusiasts will likely bemoan the change, but a unibody platform's advantages — better gas mileage and interior packaging — can't be discounted when you consider that most SUV owners don't venture off-road.
Despite the platform change, the concept exudes a clear design connection to the current Pathfinder, especially its front styling, which features a mesh grille bordered by two angled chrome bars. The Pathfinder Concept favors smoother, flowing body lines over the current SUV's boxy shapes. The concept has a panoramic moonroof with a movable front panel; this will likely be offered on the upcoming production model.
The Pathfinder Concept retains the three-row seating layout of the current Pathfinder, providing room for up to seven people.
Its drivetrain consists of a V-6 engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Again, these are fairly conventional components that could be readily applied to a production version (a similar drivetrain appears in the Nissan Murano crossover).
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Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle. Email Mike