The Nissan Pathfinder hit the streets more than 25 years ago. It became popular for families who bought it for its off-road capability and room. Over the years, it has evolved to meet the changing needs of those consumers. Now Nissan is readying the fourth-generation Pathfinder that will arrive for the 2013 model year this fall.

Nissan says the new Pathfinder will offer "an unprecedented level of premium style, comfort and thoughtful technology -- including a dramatic new aerodynamic exterior design and innovative, flexible interior." The three-row, seven-passenger SUV will return to unibody construction (used on the second-generation Pathfinder) for a roomy interior compared to its size.

"As families spend more time in their SUVs everyday as well as on weekends, the next-gen Pathfinder is stepping up with enhanced comfort, innovative technology, increased fuel efficiency, and most importantly, more flexibility for the family," said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc, in a press release.

The Nissan Pathfinder Concept features leather seating surfaces with heated and cooled front seats and heated second-row seats; heated, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel; Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start and multiple user memory settings; and Bose Audio System with 13 speakers.

Second-row seats feature 5.5 inches of travel for increased legroom or cargo capacity (with 50/50 split, reclining third row folded) and a forward folding seat design to aide access to the third-row. The 60/40 split, folding second row has a "child seat mode" on the 40 split side, which allows third-row access with a child seat in the second row. Both the second and third rows fold flat to handle large items.

"One of the dilemmas facing families with both young children and infants/toddlers is getting the older kids in the 3rd row without having to remove a child seat mounted in the 2nd row. This innovative design solves that issue," explained Castignetti, in the press release. "Plus, with the extensive 2nd row seat travel, it's easy to adjust legroom or accommodate cargo spontaneously as needed."

An advanced drive-assist display is located in the instrument cluster directly in front of the driver; the center of the dash features a large multifunction IT display. The dash mounted screen displays the Nissan Navigation System with real-time traffic and weather info as well as Zagat Survey restaurant guide, Bluetooth Streaming Audio and RearView Monitor.

Nissan's Around View Monitor is also present on the Pathfinder Concept. It shows the driver a virtual 360-degree image of the area just outside the SUV. The Pathfinder Concept is also fitted with tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth for hands-free phone, power rear liftgate, iPod integration, and DVD display screens mounted in the back of the headrests, TPMS and remote start.

A dual-panel panoramic moonroof stretches back to the third row. The front panel over the front row opens, and the fixed panel over the second and third row is fixed.

Nissan credits the unibody platform for the Pathfinder Concept's aerodynamic, yet muscular body and roomy interior. The automaker says the next-generation Pathfinder will weigh significantly less than the outgoing body-on-frame model which should contribute to better fuel economy.

The Nissan Pathfinder Concept is motivated by a V-6 engine mated to a next-generation Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Nissan says the powertrain is expected to improve on the current generation's V-6 EPA rating for fuel economy by 25 percent. It comes with "an intuitive four-wheel drive system and a towing capacity comparable to the leaders in the segment," according to the automaker. The new V-6 is expected to maintain almost the same power as the current, larger V-6 engine but in a lighter overall package.

"The new Pathfinder carries on the tradition of the previous generations of adventure-ready Pathfinders that have come before -- offering a new level of family enjoyment and engagement that is just right for today's real-world, everyday uses," concluded Castignetti, in a press release. "After more than 25 years, Pathfinder is ready to tackle new terrain and the new challenges of modern family lives."

Source: Nissan