Nissan Pathfinder Concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

  • Looks like: The Pathfinder will succumb to the crossover movement after all
  • Defining characteristics: Car-based unibody architecture, seating for seven in three rows, V-6 power
  • Ridiculous features: None to speak of; it's ready to be built
  • Chance of being mass-produced: It's coming to dealerships this fall

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.

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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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