Someone out there must have squirted deer antler spray on our trail-worn Pathfinder.
Did anybody see Ray Lewis stomping and strutting around?
Suddenly, mysteriously, all the sharp edges and bumps and bruises in the thick, blocky 2012 Nissan Pathfinder look healed in the sleeker 2013 model.
And get this: The new Pathfinder is significantly larger, but it's lighter and returns better fuel economy.
Wouldn't it take performance-enhancing substances to transform a rough old off-road ground-pounder into a glossy Starbucks cruiser?
Well, maybe not. But anyone with a previous-gen Pathfinder will need to look long and hard for any common pieces between the two.
Like an old football player who finds instant rejuvenation, the Pathfinder moves with a grace it lacked a year ago.
As well it should. Nissan took the 2013 Pathfinder off its heavy truck frame and placed its gym-slimmed new body on a stretched midsize car platform.
It also shifted the Pathfinder from rear-wheel drive to front- or all-wheel drive.
About the only thing Nissan didn't do in this radical remake of the venerable Pathfinder was tear the top off — like it did with the bizarre Murano crossover convertible, selling about 17 of the mutts.
But we had better get used to this sort of emasculation. Just about the only old-warrior SUVs still lumbering around atop truck frames these days are full-size SUVs.
Virtually everything in the midsize segment converted a couple of years ago to lighter, softer-riding car platforms, mostly to attract more customers and achieve better fuel economy.
They are 21st-century Wi-Fi wagons now — hydroponic, vegan SUVs that never get muddy or play country music.
Still, the metallic-gray Pathfinder Platinum I had recently didn't lack for presence.
In fact, the Pathfinder — which looks smaller in photographs than it actually is — is nearly as long and wide as a full-size Chevy Tahoe.
It wears its bulk pretty well. A large blacked-out grille abutted equally big headlamps, flowing into more chiseled front fenders and a long, slightly raised hood.
Huge doors and slab sides should have left the Pathfinder with dour flanks. But Nissan eased the expanse of metal with a jaunty, well-placed character line up high and a two-inch band of chrome down low.
Moreover, the Platinum model rolls on polished 20-inch wheels wearing fairly substantial 235-55 tires, giving it even more proportion.
But while the new Pathfinder is bigger everywhere, it is at least 400 pounds lighter than its predecessor and gets 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway with all-wheel drive. The burly old Pathfinder managed 14 and 20.
Loaded up, the new Path is also a lot more expensive. Mine lugged a serious window sticker of $41,550.