The Ford Explorer has been a hit since its makeover as a crossover for the 2011 model year. Through November, Ford had sold more than 120,000 2011 Explorers, making it the top selling midsize SUV in the U.S. Nissan is hoping similarly to build on the success of a model with even more longevity with the transition of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder going from a truck-based SUV to a crossover. The Pathfinder celebrated its 25th model year in 2011.
The 2012 Pathfinder is built on the same platform as the full-size Titan pickup. This hinders fuel economy as the added weight as does the older 4.0-liter engine in the model gets EPA estimated fuel economy of 14-mpg city and 20-mpg highway with all-wheel drive. This compares to 17-mpg city and 23-mpg highway in the Explorer all-wheel drive.
For 2012, Ford introduced a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine in the Explorer, which improves fuel economy to 20-mpg city and 28-mpg highway with front-wheel drive. This is nearly 25 percent better than the Pathfinder with rear-wheel drive. Fuel economy has become an increasingly important issue as consumers look to cut fuel costs and in order for automakers to comply with federal fuel standards.
Competing in a Crowded Field
The 2013 Pathfinder, which would be the models fifth generation, will be built on the same platform as the Nissan Quest minivan, Nissan Murano midsize SUV, and new 2013 Infiniti JX. The Pathfinder would retain its third row of seats but would lose its standard rear-wheel drive, instead shifting to front-wheel with an all-wheel drive potion.
While the Pathfinder has not been a stalwart of Nissan sales for years, it was one of the few remaining body on frame midsize SUVS. Perhaps the Toyota 4Runner is next?
It is interesting that Chevy is reintroducing the 2013 TrailBlazer as a truck-based SUV in foreign markets. GM may want to rethink this strategy although the Traverse crossover has performed decently in the class.
The 2013 Pathfinder will likely get the same 3.5-liter V6 engine found in the Murano, with a Continuously Variable Transmission. However, Nissan is developing a new 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder hybrid, which will debut in the 2013 Nissan Altima. The engine may also be available in the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder will no longer offer a V8 option. The 2012 model offers an optional 5.6-liter 310 horsepower V8 engine.
The starting price of the 2013 Pathfinder should not change much from the 2012 model, which begins at $28,570. The 2013 model is expected to go on sale in the latter half of next year.