The squared-gradient approximation to the modified-core Van der Waals density functional theory model is developed. A simple, explicit expression for the SGA coefficient involving only the bulk equation of state and the interaction potential is given. The model is solved for planar interfaces and spherical clusters and is shown to be quantitatively accurate in comparison to computer simulations. An approximate technique for solving the SGA based on piecewise-linear density profiles is introduced and is shown to give reasonable zeroth-order approximations to the numerical solution of the model. The piecewise-linear models of spherical clusters are shown to be a natural extension of classical nucleation theory and serve to clarify some of the nonclassical effects previously observed in liquid–vapor nucleation. Nucleation pathways are investigated using both constrained energy-minimization and steepest-descent techniques.