• Jan 9, 2008
The Nissan Pathfinder has done what was needed to take advantage of a sales trends: it started life as body-on-frame, then switched to unibody, then back to body-on-frame. Today, it shares the ladder platform with the Nissan Titan pickup and Armada SUV.

Speculation, however, is that the next generation Pathfinder could go back to unibody construction. Nissan isn't yet saying what it will do, but with the need to raise mileage -- as well as comfort -- a new Pathfinder CUV could be a win for everyone. And, as seen with the repackaging of the Ford Explorer America concept, a unibody build would give Nissan designers a lot more leeway to create something new and fresh.

The biggest issue appears to be what to do about the Pathfinder's different buyers in other countries. In America, the Pathfinder could probably sacrifice some off-road prowess and towing capacity and not suffer too much if at all. In Africa, every bit of the Pathfinder's off-road ability gets used, and customers there wouldn't accept the compromises of a softer CUV. It wouldn't be unheard of to keep building the Pathfinder on a ladder frame for other markets while creating a new one for America. The next generation is still a couple of years away, but Nissan will announce its decision later this year.

[Source: Car and Driver]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      The next Pathfinder is going to move onto an extended version of the Nissan "D" platform and become a large 3-row crossover to compete with the GM Lambda vehicles. Wait and see, it will happen folks, just remember where you heard it first.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Tony's right, Nissan needs to keep up with the Joneses, and the one thing they lack is a 3-row CUV to compete with GM's Lambdas, Toyota's Highlander, Honda's upcoming Pilot redesign, among other smaller players. Even Hyundai and Mazda have beaten them to the punch.

        Changing the North American Pathfinder to the CUV format is better than introducing another model. Leave the off roading to the Xterra and Armada.

        Anyway, its a shame that they won't have a model ready for when my wife and I need to upgrade at the end of our Murano's lease.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hmm how much will be the resale value of a Nissan Pathfinder?
      • 7 Years Ago
      As an owner of a 2006 Pathfinder, I think this would mistake. I purchased the Pathfinder for it's off road ability combined with it's towing ability. It suits our needs perfectly where no other vehicle would. I agree with other commenters - Nissan should concentrate on getting us good diesel options!!! We could have all of this utility and still get 25 MPG and tow BETTER!
      • 7 Years Ago
      dave T - no, they do mean ladder. picture a ladder laying down, two main rails and cross bars. thats a ladder frame, vs a box frame.
      Jonathan Hicks
      • 7 Years Ago
      If Nissan wants to build a large 7 pass. CUV, then it should be sold alongside the Pathfinder.
      Carlos
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why cant an off road SUV be a unibody?
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        Answer: It can. See the successful Jeep Cherokee; which is every bit as capable off the road as anything else in it's class.

        However, perception is everything. A uni-body Pathfinder does not have to be incapable of going everywhere, but would it sell as well regardless?
      Jonathan Hicks
      • 7 Years Ago
      The next Pathfinder should stay body-on-frame to keep its off-road heritage. I really don't want it to be a CUV.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think the X-trail should just be shipped here instead
      since there is no need for the Pathfinder and Xterra.

      From top to bottom in terms of capability and price.
      1. Amada
      2. X-Trail
      3. Rogue.
      4. Cube
      • 7 Years Ago
      It goes beyond capability- the previous gen 'Finder was probably more capable off road, due to its flexier solid rear axle and LIGHTER WEIGHT. As for other unibody 4wd's, the XJ Cherokee is one of the most capable off-roaders you can have.
      Nissan already has a CUV the same size as the Pathfinder in the Murano. I think they would be much better served in using the Pathfinder/Xterra/Frontier trio to roll out turbo diesels for the US.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The way I see it, the Pathfinder is currently running into an identity crisis with where it fits in the Nissan lineup. I do see a lot of them on the road, so sales have stayed pretty strong but I think it's a lot of compromises stuffed into one vehicle.

      On one hand I can see how the Pathfinder/Armada in the Nissan Lineup has a similar relationship to the Explorer/Expedition in the Ford lineup. On the other hand the Pathfinder has grown and morphed and twisted into something that was way different from what it was 15 years ago.

      The Pathfinder has lost body-on-frame, then it lost its solid axle while regaining body-on-frame. It pretty much has evolved into a massive sedan with the ability to tow. Offroad ability is minimized with fully independent suspension despite what all the advertising says about it.

      To turn the Pathfinder into a CUV would be Nissan pretty much throwing its hands up and saying that it can't find an identity for the Pathfinder besides "extra-large Murano."

      Maybe I'm just a really old fashioned guy, but I think it was a mistake for Nissan to invent the Xterra for North America instead of bringing over the Patrol to fill the off-road niche that the Pathfinder left behind when it got redesigned all those years ago. The lineup today could have been Titan/Armada, Pathfinder, Patrol, and Frontier. I really love my Xterra but I saw it as a missed opportunity back in 2000 for Nissan to bring over a tough-as-nails off-roader SUV.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I drive a '96 Pathfinder, which was the beginning of the unibody generation.

      I got in an accident last May (8-15 mph fender bender), and interestingly, a dealer (not Nissan) had told me that the frame had gotten bent.

      Someone enlighten me... is the word "frame" apropos when describing a unibody vehicle?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Advantages and disadvantages (compared to unibody)

      Advantages
      - Easier to design, build and modify (less of an issue now that CAD is commonplace), but still an advantage for coachbuilt vehicles.
      - More suited for heavy duty usage and can be more durable.
      - Easier to repair after accidents.
      - Overall better ride quality for SUVs.

      Disadvantages
      - Heavier than unibody - lower performance and/or higher fuel consumption.
      - Center of gravity is usually higher - compromising stability and handling.
      - Less resistant to torsion (flexing of the whole car in corners) - compromising handling and roadholding.
      - No crumple zone - higher rate of death and serious injury.
      - Higher production costs.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It can make the ride better in heavier SUV's where's handling has a greater effect on the chassis. Frame chassis are also mostly still used in trucks and SUVs due to good isolation between passenger cabin and road vibration.
        • 7 Years Ago
        How would a frame make the ride better???
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