Nissan Pathfinder concept

Though Nissan calls it a concept, the automaker has revealed what’s basically the production version of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. Last month, Nissan leaked a few details about the new Pathfinder, including its seating capacity and a vague picture, but now we have a bit more information regarding the redesigned SUV that will go on sale later this year.

Rather than using a truck-like, body-on-frame platform, the Pathfinder will use a unibody platform that it will likely share with the upcoming seven-seat 2013 Infiniti JX. This will decrease its off-road capabilities somewhat, but will likely improve interior space and handling. “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,” explains Kicking Tires.

The 2013 Pathfinder will trade in its set of outgoing V6 and V8 engines for one V6 option, which Nissan says will deliver approximately 25 percent better combined fuel economy over the old V6. That would put the new Pathfinder’s combined EPA rating in the neighborhood of 21 mpg with two-wheel drive, which is better than two-wheel drive V6 models of the 2012 Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, and Mazda CX-9. Nissan also says that the new Pathfinder will also incorporate an “intuitive four-wheel-drive” system, which may mean that it can be left engaged on dry pavement, and class-competitive towing abilities.

Though reviewers won’t have a chance to evaluate the interior until closer to the vehicle’s launch date, they like the new Pathfinder’s looks so far. “Goodbye, rugged boulder-basher. Hello, slippery soft-roader,” writes Car and Driver. “We can’t say we mind much, since the flared fenders, angled front fascia, and overall contours are handsome if a touch conservative.”

Nissan remains tight-lipped, but most auto writers estimate that the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder will go on sale later in 2012. The 2013 Pathfinder will debut this week at the Detroit Auto Show.

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