Boasting the same powertrain technology that originally launched in the Infiniti M Hybrid sport sedan, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid has reached local dealerships with an MSRP that starts at $35,110. Now, at first glance, that may look like a stiff premium over the standard Pathfinder S—which opens at $28,850—but note that the hybrid line actually begins at Nissan’s SV trim level; on an apples-to-apples basis, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SV Hybrid is priced $3,000 higher than its conventionally powered counterpart, but also includes, of course, relatively high fuel-economy marks of up to 25 mpg city/28 mpg highway/26 mpg combined.
That’s when the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is configured with two-wheel drive, but the only change with all four wheels drawing power is a 1-mpg decrease in highway efficiency. It’s not quite enough to give Nissan the No. 1 position on the fuel-economy leaderboard for three-row crossovers, however. Keeping in mind that there’s just one other mainstream entry in the segment with hybrid motivation, the likely rivals to the Nissan include:
- Toyota Highlander Hybrid (AWD only)—28 mpg city/28 mpg highway/28 mpg combined
- 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid (FWD)—25/28/26
- 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid (AWD)—25/27/26
- Ford Explorer (FWD, EcoBoost I4)—20/28/23
- Nissan Pathfinder (FWD)—20/26/22
- Toyota Highlander (FWD)—20/25/22
- Honda Pilot (FWD)—18/25/21
- Dodge Durango (RWD)—18/20/25
- Chevrolet Traverse—17/24/19
Engineers also made sure that the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid would retain much of its crossover capabilities. Yes, it swaps out the standard version’s 3.5-liter V6 for a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, but the latter has been supercharged and works with an advanced electrical propulsion system to serve up 250 hp and 243 lb.-ft. of torque. As a result, and as compared to the Pathfinder’s gas-only powerplant, hybrid drivers actually get an additional 3 lb.-ft. of torque (albeit with 10 fewer horsepower). And it’s still enough for a 3,500-lb. max tow rating—some 1,500 lbs. more than the EcoBoosted Explorer mentioned above.
There’s also reason to believe the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is just the first of a wave of new hybrid entries from the automaker …
2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid: Blazing a New Trail
It may surprise some folks to note that—despite offering vehicles like the all-electric Nissan LEAF and 38-mpg Nissan Altima midsize sedan—Nissan dealers had been without a hybrid choice since the 2011 model year, when the previous-gen Altima offered a light-hybrid setup. Well, that’s going to start changing with the debut of the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid.
Right off the bat, the technology in the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is much more advanced than that in the older Altima, with a one-motor, two-clutch design that allows the gas engine to be de-coupled from the driveline in certain conditions. This friction-reducing measure is a notable boon to efficiency, and is paired with the ability to run both the gas engine and electric motor in tandem, for strong off-the-line performance.
And it’s clear that the new technology won’t be limited to the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid.
Although the company hasn’t provided any details about future products, Pierre Loing, vice president of Product Planning for Nissan North America, was clear about the versatility of the Pathfinder’s high-tech powertrain: "This new system is not only adaptable to front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations like with the new Pathfinder Hybrid, it is completely scalable depending on vehicle design or segment.
“For example, with Pathfinder it is used with the supercharged 2.5-liter engine, 15 kW electric motor and relatively small battery pack—retaining solid SUV capabilities including standard towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. For use in an urban compact or sedan, the system might include a smaller 2.0-liter engine but a more powerful electric motor and larger battery to extend the pure electric driving range for city stop-and-go traffic use. There is complete design flexibility with this system—along with an affordability factor because it uses readily available components."