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NEW WHEELS So what is it that is killing the frame? Well, while a body-on-frame architecture provides a robust backbone for towing heavy loads and handling extreme off-road terrain, the fact of the matter is this setup just plain sucks when it comes to on-road handling, aerodynamics and thusly, fuel efficiency. And what does every soccer mom want in an SUV? Safe handling and great fuel efficiency.

Taking A New Path

All-new Pathfinder goes from SUV to Crossover Review by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of Nissan Canada It doesn’t take much to realize that Nissan has taken the next generation of the Pathfinder in an all new direction. Yes, the mighty SUV is now a mightily endangered species as body-on-frame utes seem to be dropping like flies on a hot window sill. The Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Ford Escape and even the vehicle that kicked off the whole SUV craze, the Ford Explorer, have all shed their heavy underpinnings for a flashy new unibody suit.

The interior design on the new Pathfinder is very stylish with lots of soft touch materials, but it’s the rear entry to the third row that really impresses 24 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2013

Enter the all-new Nissan Pathfinder with its much sleeker and lower stance giving away the notso-secret evidence of what lies beneath. Yes, the new Pathfinder is not as sure-footed in the rough stuff anymore, but the economic gains are massive. Nissan has somehow managed to knock over 500 pounds out of the outgoing Pathfinder through innovations in body structure, drivetrain and interior appointments. That weight savings matched to the first CVT transmission to ever be put into a full-size Crossover means the Pathfinder gets an impressive 10.5L/100 km in the city, 7.7L/100 km on the highway with a combined 9.3L/100 km. This makes it the most fuel efficient vehicle in its class by a whole 1L/100 km. Those are Nissan’s published numbers; however, my test drive yielded an average of 12.1L/100 km in the real world, which is still quite good for such a vehicle. Powering those numbers is a 3.5-litre V6 rated at 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. Many may worry about the Pathfinder’s capability to employ 4WD, towing ability and reliability with a CVT transmission running the show. Well, you need not worry, as the CVT is chain-operated, unlike belt operation in car units, allowing up to 5,000-lbs towing capacity (and that is J2807 compliant) and AWD is an option, although no low range is offered. Inside, the new capabilities of a unibody design have allowed Nissan to design a clever third row to offer seven seats. Access to the third row is eased by the second row’s tilt-and-slide feature, which can be used even when a child seat is in place. It makes it one of the easiest seven-seaters to get into, even for adults, and once you’re back there, it’s really not that bad; adults are very much welcome at the children’s table in this case. Out on the road, the new unibody should make the Pathfinder

Trucks Plus Feb-Mar 2013  

Trucks Plus February-March 2013 Issue