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I do a lot of "serious" off-roading, and I've never broken a strut. Maybe they wore out sooner, but they've never broken.
While I agree a solid front axle makes for a better off-roader, the IFS performs quite well off-road considering that the vehicle handles like a car on the asphalt, where it spends more than 90% of its miles.
The Pathfinder doesn't have lockers as a factory option, and the LSD while somewhat helpful on the pavement, is not good enough for extreme off-roading. This is where the ARB air locker comes in.
You can get a skid plate for the part-time transfer case, although that's all that's available at the moment. Find out how. (I should add that the undercarriage of the Pathfinder is incredibly flat compared to other 4x4 vehicles, making it less susceptible to undercarriage damage/scraping and less needy of skid plates.)
I have to disagree with your statement about the unibody construction. Mine has been incredibly rattle and squeak-free for over 76,000 miles, many of which have been spent on only 2 or 3 wheels, subjectuing the chassis to extreme torsional forces.
As for the PF never being a Jeep, I concede your point. My Pathfinder couldn't make it past Walker Hill on the Rubicon trail, and on the way back off the trail, I sustained some rocker panel damage, munched rear bumper, and a scrape on the passenger door trim.
The Pathfinder is just not the type of vehicle that is designed to navigate 3-foot high boulders. I've learned the limits of my vehicle (albeit by exceeding them!)
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