A transmission with actual cogs could replace the CVT.

In the exciting world of automotive spy photography, it's abundantly clear that some automakers parade around camouflaged prototype with the intention of being seen. Nissan isn't among that group, as the automaker is notorious for keeping its future vehicles well hidden. Case-in-point is the next-generation Pathfinder, which we first saw way back at the beginning of 2020. We've only seen it one other time since then – until today.

The latest shots don't come through our normal sources. Cars_secrets caught this camo-wrapped test vehicle on the move in the UAE and posted the encounter on Instagram. The photos aren't the clearest, and there are just a few of them. However, the camera does get a close look at the front and rear of this prototype, where we see production-spec lights.

 

The front view is particularly good, clearly showing the outline of the big V-Motion grille that's now standard design language across much of Nissan's lineup. Extra cladding on the backside still obscures body lines, and we aren't sure if the camo strip on the headlights hides bisected lenses. It could be a clever ruse, so there's still quite a bit of mystery surrounding this next-gen SUV.

Gallery: Nissan Pathfinder Interior Spy Photos

We do have some new rumors to share regarding its powertrain, notably with its transmission. We're hearing that a completely new nine-speed automatic could replace the CVT. The platform soldiers on using the same unibody structure shared with the Altima and Maxima, so it would still be front-drive biased with available all-wheel-drive. But the CVT isn't a much-loved box so a new transmission with nine speeds could help the Pathfinder find new buyers. A new turbocharged four-cylinder engine – likely the same 2.0-liter VC-turbo from the Altima – could also join the 3.5-liter V6 under the Pathfinder's hood.

In September we glimpsed the Pathfinder's interior, though much was hidden beneath fabric covers. We did catch a considerably larger center touchscreen amid a completely new dash. This will indeed be a fully redesigned, next-generation SUV despite its shared underpinnings.

As for when it will arrive, we initially expected to see it this year as a 2021 model. There's still some chance of that; there are a few weeks left in December and as of this posting, Nissan still has no listing for a 2021 Pathfinder on its website. However, it's now far more likely that this will debut sometime in the first half of next year as a 2022 model.