A smoother idle results from a change in the camshaft profile, the automaker says. Piston size increases, but reciprocating weight stays the same via reconfiguration of the piston skirt.

Off-road or on, the engine is more responsive. Horsepower increases from 153 to 168 at 4,800 rpm; torque is 196 ft.-lbs. (266 Nm) at 2,800 rpm, up from 180 ft.-- lbs. (244 Nm). The new V-6 has a flat torque curve -- 90% is available from 1,500 to 1,800 rpm -- which makes for better handling off-road or when towing. The V-6 uses Nissan's SOFIS (sophisticated optimized fuel injection system), which optimizes air/fuel ratio under different driving/atmospheric conditions.

Available transmissions are a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic with overdrive. A limited slip differential is standard on 4x4 models as is an enhanced shift-on-the-fly transfer case that can be engaged at up to 50 mph (80 kmh).

The new Pathfinder comes in 2- or 4-wheel-drive configuration, three trim levels XE, LE and SE) and is bigger all around. At 178.3 ins. (452.8 cm), overall length is 6.7 ins. (17.0 cm) longer than the previous generation.

The Pathfinder has the usual complement of active and passive safety features including standard 4-wheel ABS, dual air bags and rack-and-pinion steering for enhanced driver control and a tighter turning radius -- 17.7 ft. (5.4 m) compared with the previous 21 ft. (6.4 m).

There's plenty of room to stash belongings in big rear-door pockets and a hidden side storage bin, plus there's extra storage under the cargo area floor.

The Pathfinder also comes standard with four 20-oz. cupholders (two front, two rear) and two 12-volt DC outlets for recreational or mobile office needs.