If automakers have learned anything from the 2011 Ford Explorer, it's that changing a popular SUV nameplate to a crossover platform won't necessarily hurt the vehicle's image (or sales numbers). Nissan is hoping to capture that same sort of magic with its Pathfinder – judging by these spy shots, the traditionally body-on-frame SUV stalwart appears to be crossing over for its next generation.

The next-gen Pathfinder will likely be based on Nissan's FF-L platform that currently underpins vehicles like the Murano crossover and Quest minivan. Our best guess is that this Pathfinder, which will still remain a seven-passenger vehicle, could share many of its bits with the recently revealed Infiniti JX. Either way, whatever Nissan has planned for the new Pathfinder will surely be better than the aging, Titan-based model that's currently on sale.

The new Pathfinder appears to be pretty far along in its development, so we'll likely see its new CUV shape at the Detroit Auto Show in January. For now, scroll through our gallery of spy shots to get a better glimpse at the Pathfinder's new look.