As consumers continue moving away from traditional body-on-frame SUVs, a Nissan North America Inc. official says the auto maker is mulling the future direction of its Pathfinder model.

The midsize Pathfinder originally rode on a body-on-frame architecture and moved to a unibody, or monobody, platform in its second generation.

In '05, it went back to being truck-based, employing the F-Alpha platform that underpins Nissan's pickups and Armada and Xterra SUVs.

And another switch could be in the cards.

“We've got a tremendous heritage and history with Pathfinder,” Larry Dominique, vice president-product planning for NNA, tells Ward's. “Pathfinder has always meant capability and performance. Can you deliver that (with a) monobody vs. body-on-frame? The answer is we think you can do either.

“(But) we don't know what's the right solution for us long-term,” he says, adding that Nissan continues to study the problem.

What is clear is the midsize SUV segment never will see the heights it did in the 1990s, as car-based utility vehicles become more popular and steal sales from traditional body-on-frame models, he says.