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Nissan's Pathfinder Concept Was a Cool Surprise Appearance at Auto Shanghai 2023

Japanese automakers' automotive fans need a quick look at what is happening in the North American region to point out which carmakers are more active (ahem, Toyota and Honda) and which are somewhat lethargic (Nissan, Mitsubishi, wink, wink).
Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023 8 photos
Photo: Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023Nissan Pathfinder Concept at Auto Shanghai 2023
Since last year, we have seen the all-new Honda HR-V (aka the ZR-V for international markets, not to be confused with the global, smaller HR-V), the latest iteration of the best-selling CR-V compact CUV, a new Pilot and Accord, among others. Toyota also dumped one novelty after another, from the S235 Crown that reappeared in America to the Prius 'Hybrid Reborn' and family-oriented, three-row Grand Highlander. And more are coming, including the ultra-popular 2024 Tacoma mid-size pickup truck.

Mitsubishi, meanwhile, is like non-existent in the United States – compared to its peers, while the Nissan partner from the group is preoccupied with stuff like the age-old 2024 GT-R sports car, among others. Luckily, if the New York Auto Show didn't jolt the company out of its 'thrill-seeker' lethargy, the following major automotive event – Auto Shanghai 2023, certainly did. As such, the carmaker started with an electrified show of force, presenting the Max-Out convertible sports car in its China debut, the e-Power X-Trail that kicked off local pre-sales and the global debut of the Arizon SUV.

Looking like an excitingly boxy yet minimalist EV experience, the Arizon concept brought us fond memories of the times when Nissan was a vigorous power player in the off-road field of adventurous SUVs. "Imagined in China for Chinese customers looking for a personalized solution," this prototype may or may not leave the region if it ever becomes a series product. But, hopefully, the surprise arrival of a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Concept – even though it was also "designed with China in mind" does not signal yet another forbidden fruit case for the rest of the world.

First introduced almost four decades ago, in 1985, the Pathfinder SUV family has known many revolutions along the way – as it originally started as the SUV version of the compact Navara (Frontier) pickup truck. The sibling relationship lasted until the third-generation model was introduced in 2003 when it was reworked on the company's F-Alpha platform as a mid-size SUV. Now, though, it has again reinvented its lifestyle since the arrival of the fourth generation and has been following the crossover SUV ethos since 2012.

The current D platform-based fifth generation was introduced during the summer of 2021 and is manufactured in the United States in Smyrna, Tennessee, at the Nissan Smyrna Assembly Plant. But it seems that the Japanese automaker also has plans for the world's largest automotive market – and they are fully personalized. As such, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Concept that dropped as a tremendous surprise on the Auto Shanghai 2023 catwalk is quite different from the US model. Instead of being a carbon copy, the prototype features the same three-row arrangement tucked inside an SUV body that "blends modern Chinese aesthetics with quintessential Nissan-ness."

Unfortunately, Nissan is providing exactly zero technical specifications regarding this preview of the China-bound Pathfinder. Instead, they are musing about a "completely redesigned exterior and an adventure-ready interior that, with three rows of seating, provides ample space for larger families" and the fact that it was unveiled alongside the latest Qashqai crossover, which is set for an August launch on the Chinese market.

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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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