The Detroit show will see some 50 new products unveiled overall and over 40 exhibitors, while Nissan's two concept vehicles underscored a wave of new products in the pipeline and its Zero Emissions leadership.
CEO Carlos Ghosn said the return to the Detroit show was indicative of the sales strength Nissan saw in 2011.
"The fact that we are returning today to the Detroit motor show means that we are on the offensive," Ghosn said.
"The crisis that has been created by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in October 2008 is way behind us. We have erased most of the consequences of this as an industry. Now this industry is growing. We believe we can contribute a lot to its growth. And our presence today with a lot of innovation in Detroit means we are ready for what's coming."
The four-wheel drive Pathfinder's Continuously Variable Transmission is expected to provide a 25% increase in fuel economy when U.S. sales begin in fall.
Al Castignetti, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Nissan North America, says the fourth-generation Pathfinder will reinvent the 25-year old line.
"I think that Pathfinder needs to get back to its original sales volumes when we had the old generation," he said. "Quite frankly, we are looking to triple, maybe even quadruple the sales of the Pathfinder with this generation."
The e-NV200 Concept is targeted for businesses and families, and is expected to energize the compact van market when mass production begins by 2014.
In the show's run, some 5,000 journalists from over 50 countries are expected to attend the Detroit event, while public turnout is seen climbing back to pre-crisis levels.
VIDEO Detroit 2012 Nissan unveils Pathfinder Concept and all-electric e-NV200 Concept