Nissan has spent most of its money on safety tech in recent years. It's completely fine that almost all their cars come with auto emergency braking because that's what gets family buyers. However, the old Pathfinder was really rugged for its time, and we want some of that back.
The 1986 SUV had body-on-frame construction, could actually climb a steep dirt trail and was square-jawed. They switched to unibody construction after the second-gen model came out in 1995. However, even one produced from 2005 to 2012 had highlights like a mud-proof trunk and available 300+ horsepower 5.6-liter V8 that was excellent for towing.
The current generation is the biggest let-down because it tries to be too much like the Rogue. However, the 2022 Pathfinder test prototype gives us hope. It's obviously not a Ford Bronco rival, but we do see hints of boxy design, probably of a retro nature.
Our best guess is that it looks exactly like the 2020 Nissan Patrol from the Middle East, aka the 2021 Armada that's not here in America yet. The square headlights and large V-Motion grille form a simple, rugged front end. Meanwhile, the rest of the bodywork is mostly straight. At the back, the taillights are wide, and the trunk opening is as simple as the rest of the vehicle.
The Pathfinder prototype spied on Michigan freeways had its central stack uncovered to reveal the navigation system. The new LCD screen is a big step up from the current, outdated Pathfinder, resembling the new 9-inch infotainment screen in the Rogue.
These spyshots clearly show a prototype with normal independent suspension and a simple powertrain. Most likely, this is the 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine producing roughly the same 300 hp and 261 lb-ft as in the Maxima. However, one possible big change is the CVT being replaced by a 9-speed automatic. In addition, Nissan should offer its fancy 2-liter turbo and a hybrid of some kind.