By Steve & Tami Laser
Nissan’s first Pathfinder debuted almost 30 years ago as a two-door SUV based on its compact pickup truck. The fourth-generation introduced for 2013 is the largest and most sophisticated yet offering three rows of seats for seven passengers.
A new Hybrid joins the lineup for 2014. Instead of the standard 3.5-liter V6, the Hybrid gains a supercharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine and an electric motor paired with a compact Lithium-ion battery. The 15 kW motor and gas engine work together to provide performance that Nissan says is similar to the conventional Pathfinder’s V6.
Checking the specs, the Hybrid system delivers 250 horsepower and 243 ft-lbs of torque, compared to the regular V6’s output of 260 horses and 240 ft-lbs.
Pathfinder Hybrid employs Nissan’s Intelligent Dual Clutch System that manages power from both the electric motor and gas engine. The motor also serves as a generator, transferring energy from the CVT to the battery during deceleration.
By tucking the hybrid batteries under the third-row seat, there’s no reduction in passenger capacity, meaning the Pathfinder Hybrid still enjoys a spacious cabin. Outside, Hybrid models gain LED taillights and Puredrive Hybrid badges to set it apart.
Hybrid fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg combined, an increase of 24 percent compared to the standard model. The city figure is 25 mpg while the highway rating is 28 mpg for 2WD or 27 mpg with 4WD.
Pathfinder Hybrid comes in SV, SL and Platinum trims starting at $35,110. Our Platinum 4×2 tester with a base price of $42,750 added the $2,300 Premium Package including dual rear-seat DVD entertainment system with 7-inch monitors, wireless headphones and remote control, a VTR jack, and a dual-panel panorama moonroof bringing the bottom line to $46,110.
Our tester was equipped with a long list of comfort and luxury features including standard leather trimmed seats with heated and cooled front seats, heated second-row seats, heated, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry with push-button start and Bose® audio with 13 speakers.
High-tech features included the Advanced Drive-Assist™ 4.2-inch color monitor in the instrument cluster that lets the driver view hybrid power flow readings and other information.
A larger screen in the center of the dash is used to view the available Nissan Navigation System with NavTraffic real-time traffic and NavWeather, Zagat Survey® restaurant guide, streaming audio via Bluetooth® and the available Around View® Monitor that provides a 360-degree image around the vehicle.
Rear seat comfort is enhanced with Nissan’s EZ Flex® Seating System with 5.5 inches of second-row seat travel for ease of entry into the third-row. The 60/40-split second row features Latch and Glide™ technology that allows access to the third row with a child seat installed. The third row is a 50/50 split-folding design that also reclines.
Overall, we were impressed with the high-tech features, comfort and luxury of our Pathfinder tester. The Hybrid powertrain is smooth and sophisticated, delivering good performance and seamless transfer of gas and electric power. We didn’t miss the V6 engine.
During our week-long test drive, we averaged 20 mpg, which is a bit lower than the official estimates. However, we were driving a prototype test vehicle, which may not represent real-world mileage, plus we were flogging it quite a bit to check its performance on the steep hills in our neighborhood.
If you’re in the market for a midsize, three-row crossover, we suggest that you test-drive both the Pathfinder Hybrid and the regular gas V6 model to see which one best fits your needs and budget.
The regular Pathfinder V6 non-hybrid S 2WD starts at $28,850 or $30,450 with Nissan’s All-Mode 4×4-i system.
[2014 Nissan Pathfinder press fleet vehicle provided by Nissan North America, Inc.]
Story, photos and video ©2014 CarNichiWa