On an already hot July morning, Nissan brought its biggest suits to downtown Dallas for the unveiling of a new(ish) 3-row SUV for 2017, as well as announcing a partnership with one of Dallas’ newest public venues, Klyde Warren Park. The irony of the partnership, aligning one of the country’s biggest automakers with a park built over a freeway, wasn’t lost on Nissan, the park’s board of directors or those of us in attendance.
In combination with the reveal of the freshened Pathfinder was a brief bio of a car/truck combo that has vacillated over some thirty years between a truck-based, body-on-frame SUV and its unibody, CUV-like cousin. (In political terms, you might think Vermont-based Bernie one minute, Driving-the-Beltway Hillary the next…). But regardless of what they’re building now, today’s unibody, 3-row Pathfinder is selling far better than its body-on-frame predecessors, while Nissan’s connection to North Texas has never been bigger.
As you may have heard, Toyota’s building a new headquarters for its U.S. operations just 30 minutes north in suburban Plano. While not mentioning the ‘T’ word, Nissan’s North American chairman, Jose Munoz, noted Nissan’s deep roots in North Texas. It is home to the Nissan Motor Acceptance Corporation (NMAC), employing some 1100 people and, as you’d expect, a few tow trucks. Texas also boasts 73 Nissan dealerships and more than 7,000 dealership employees. And those folks’ combined efforts make Texas the number two state in the U.S. for Nissan sales. In short, Nissan enjoys a long, deep connection to our people and their driving.
The revised Pathfinder won’t disrupt the balance of power in the populous 3-row segment, but the improvements are nevertheless credible. While the vehicle enjoys the same 3.5-liter displacement as the ’16, it gains 19 horsepower and 19 lb-ft of torque, all of which will be well received by the Pathfinder’s 4,500 (or so) pounds. There’s also – notably – a bump in towing capacity, to 6,000 pounds – and that’s 1,000 more pounds than offered by Honda’s new Ridgeline. Of course, there are the obligatory tweaks outside and in, but we’re most impressed by a returning of the Pathfinder suspension, which should provide a more nimble, responsive platform if (or when) you can ever escape the carpool.