A red 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the side parked in the woods.

The Pathfinder Shows Nissan Isn’t Afraid to Take Design Risks

Have you noticed the 1980s are back? Whether this news leaves you cringing as you remember those bad hair days and acid-wash jeans or makes you feel inspired, you can’t escape the ’80s. Thanks to cult-hit shows like Strangers Things, fashion and culture have taken a turn for the nostalgic. So when a project briefly hit the desk of Nissan designer Ken Lee a few years ago, he knew exactly where he wanted to take the project, back to the ’80s, baby!

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder redesign was directly inspired by Nissan’s original 1980s Pathfinder. And the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder? Oh yeah, it carries on the style. Check out the rugged, chunky body, the floating C-Pillar, and the straighter front-end design. While you might have noticed that many SUVs and crossovers have slowly been morphing into a soft, care-like silhouette, Nissan took the design in the opposite direction, focusing on what SUVs were made for, rugged good times and convenience. But don’t think the beefy Nissan Pathfinder isn’t functional. The redesign was kept subtle, so those who remembered the original Pathfinder design could appreciate the nod to the past, while others could simply enjoy the three-row midsize SUV for what it was, a flexible, reliable vehicle that won’t let them down.

Drivers have always known they could rely on Nissan when it comes to vehicles designed to meet their needs, but also when they wanted something a little different. Nissan’s design team keeps things fresh and modern while taking the best parts of the past and using them in unique or fun ways to create truly original designs that fit a variety of modern lifestyles.

The Modern Pathfinder – Nissan Has Fun With Style

There’s no mistaking the sleek lines, dramatic curves, or unique color combinations of a Nissan. The Japanese company has a method to its madness; in fact, they have an entire philosophy when it comes to design. Japanese design is striking in its simplicity. With nods to the natural world and its ephemeral qualities, the Japanese car company has truly put its unique stamp on automotive design, giving Nissan an unmistakable identity that makes them easy to spot even in a crowded parking lot.

Take a look at the previously mentioned Pathfinder, for example. While the design pays homage to the original boxy 1980s Pathfinder model, Nissan designers didn’t let nostalgia overtake great modern design. Subtle hints of the beloved 1980s model can be found in the three-grille slot and floating roofline, while the modern-looking U-shaped headlamps and wide taillamps give the vehicle an unmistakable rugged feel that helps it stand out in today’s modern crowd of smoothed-out sedan-like compact and midsize SUVs.

While the Pathfinder is a modern-day family hauler, Nissan remembered the SUV’s original purpose as a Sport Utility Vehicle created to fit all types of conditions and lifestyles. So what else does Nissan have up its sleeve? When you look closer at the automotive maker’s portfolio, you’ll soon realize you’re not just seeing a car or an SUV but a thoughtful design that has had many strong moments leading up to it.

The grey interior of a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

The Juke – Noticeably Fun

We bet you’ve seen a Nissan Juke on the street. The sporty crossover easily stands out in the best possible way compared to more subtle designs from competing car companies. Instead of the popular “cat eye” headlamps, Nissan designed the Juke with circular LED lights. Add to that a floating roof (similar to that seen on the current Pathfinder), and the entire crossover gives drivers a feeling of modern spaciousness.

The sporty but sophisticated lines mean the Juke finds it easy to fit in in urban, suburban, or rural settings. The swooping V-Motion grille gives the entire design a thrill of excitement and the open road. The Juke was designed to make an impression, whether in motion or sitting still, something a lot of other car companies often attempt but don’t quite reach. The detail of the sloping curves leaves the crossover as something to be admired from the inside or the outside. The sleek but sporty Juke doesn’t avoid heavy traffic but moves through it, offering drivers a smooth, fluid feel that inspires confidence behind the wheel.

The PIVO 2 – A Wild Design Concept

This is probably a Nissan you haven’t seen or heard of, but its design is so futuristic, so out there, we couldn’t ignore it. Think of a futuristic pod on wheels combined with an intelligent lifeform, and the PIVO 2 is what you get. The original PIVO design was first unveiled to the public during the 2005 Tokyo Model Show, with the PIVO 2 being created only two short years later. The round, electric “pod” offered seating for three and a 360-degree rotating cabin. It was created to be the ultimate commuter machine. The design was meant to promote an all-new organic relationship between the driver and their vehicle.

Nissan once again has a reason behind the rounded eye-catching design. Employing the philosophy that a happy driver is a better driver, they designed the PIVO 2 to invoke feelings of happiness, humor, affection, and even partnership and trust. The front opening door was made to remind the driver or passengers of going in or out of a private room, and the driver seat was designed like a lounge chair. They hoped this would lead to less anxiety and more feelings of peace and relaxation. While this design doesn’t necessarily show up in the current Pathfinder, it does show how fun and far Nissan is willing to go.

The Armada – Imposing Family Transport

Whether you know it as the Armada or the Patrol, the Nissan SUV is anything but understated. A big body and bold curves help it stand out in all the best ways, while the classic Nissan V-Motion grille tells you right away what auto family it belongs to. The Armada is a modern masculine design with boomerang-shaped LED head and tail lamps. The strong lines of the exterior create interesting design tension with the comfortable, high-end feeling interior of leather upholstery and spacious seating.

Nissan decided to build on this model, taking the design up a notch to create the Armada Mountain Patrol SUV. The vehicle was created based on social media input and premiered at the Arizona Overland Expo West in 2018. Fans on social media got to help choose options like tires, exterior wrap, roof-mounted light bar, and even a roof-mounted tent feature to create a truly unique adventure vehicle.

The Armada Mountain Patrol was a design experiment meant to take the full-size SUV to a new level of ruggedness. It is equipped with camping gear, Overlanding tech, and tools to enhance your offroad adventure. The vibrant orange color with a silhouetted tree line evokes feelings of camping, hunting, and the great outdoors. Again, this isn’t a vehicle that is necessarily represented in the 2023 Pathfinder, but it showcases Nissan’s rugged choices, which are a part of the Pathfinder’s style.

A tan 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the front driving on an open road.

Nissan Isn’t Afraid of Going Far With Its Design Choices

Nissan is a company that likes to keep the public guessing while at the same time inspiring them to take their driving experience to a whole new level. It’s not often that car companies excel at blending classic design with modern times (remember the epic fall of Crystler’s retro-inspired PT Cruiser?) Drivers that want something unique but practical often turn to Nissan because of the company’s smart design choices and stellar reputation. Just take a look at the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder to see what we mean.

The Pathfinder not only delivers what drivers need but often offers them something more. Whether it’s taking fun design hints from the past or delivering a space-age-looking bubble car fit for the future, drivers keep coming back to Nissan. Take a seat behind the wheel of a 2023 Pathfinder and experience its driver-centered design that makes every journey intuitive and inspirational in a way that’s uniquely Nissan.