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Nissan's new Pathfinder - Back to the Future

Posted by: Mark Bilek

Nissan is set to take Pathfinder back to the future this fall with an all-new design. Pathfinder was one of the first four-door SUVs when it was introduced back in 1987. The original utilized revolutionary (for the time) unibody construction, which saves both weight and maximizes interior space when compared to a conventional body-on-frame vehicle. That first Pathfinder sold well and was continuously evolved up until 2004.

In 2005, Nissan introduced an all-new Pathfinder that shared body-on-frame construction with the Nissan Frontier and Xterra. That switch in ideology made sense at the time, but as every other vehicle in the segment moved to car-based unibody construction, the Pathfinder was left to go it alone as a body-on-frame SUV. Pathfinder floundered and sales tumbled.

Flash forward to 2012. Nissan's all-new 2013 Pathfinder goes back to unibody design with underpinnings that are shared with the new Infiniti JX and Nissan Altima. That's allowed designers to maximize interior room and add eight cubic feet of passenger space and par more than 500 pounds from the curb weight.

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder hits Chicago-area Nissan showrooms this October with, according to Nissan, class leading fuel economy, interior room, aerodynamics and towing capacity. In addition, it will likely be the only model to sport a true four-wheel drive system that utilizes differentials to split engine power between the front and rear wheels - rather than utilizing electronics and the brakes to manage power distribution.

Aimed at familiy buyers, the seven-passenger Pathfinder features second-row seats that side fore and aft more than five inches to balance legroom and cargo space. In addition, when fitted with a child-safety seat, the passenger-side second-row seat can slide forward and kneel a bit to ease access to the third row without removing the booster seat.

The '13 Pathfinder is powered by Nissan's award-winning VQ 3.5-liter V6 engine. In the new crossover it makes 260 horsepower and is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, that's claimed to be a segment first. Towing capacity is 5000 pounds. Features include Nissan's around-view monitor, easy-fill tire inflation system, twin moonroofs, dual-screen DVD entertainment system and a Bose Acoustic Wageguide sound system.

Given it's impressive credentials, aggressive pricing and segment-leading features the new Pathfinder is likely to be a big hit with today's family-vehicle shoppers.

2013 Nissan Pathfinder 450 front

2013 Nissan Pathfinder 450 rear

2013 Nissan Pathfinder 450 cargo

2013 Nissan Pathfinder 450 seats

2013 Nissan Pathfinder 450 IP

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