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November 26, 2013

Nissan Takes a New Path for Families with the 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-frontview_0657By Sue Mead

Nissan went after families when remaking the Pathfinder last year. This somewhat trucky SUV morphed into a kinder, gentler crossover with an uplevel interior that can carry seven passengers and, at the same time, tote up to 16 cubic feet of cargo; there’s even way more room when you have fewer riders.

What could be better? Nissan realized that many women with children are also looking for the better fuel economy, so has now expanded its Pathfinder lineup, adding the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid to the list of 14 available models that include both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (4WD) versions.

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-badge_0435The all-new hybrid version gets close to 25 percent improved fuel economy over its gasoline-powered sibling. On sale now, the hybrid Pathfinder starts at $35,110 (plus $860 destination and handling), which is $3,000 more than a similarly-equipped Pathfinder powered by the 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine. Do the math, you can make up for the increase by decreasing the dollars you spend on fuel! And, you’re helping the environment.

While the exterior styling is the same as the fourth-generation 2014 Pathfinder that was completely redesigned last year, the Pathfinder hybridgets unique, efficient LED taillights and Nissan PUREDRIVE Hybrid badges. The crossover’s grille is beset by a large Nissan badge backed by a black honeycomb design that stretches like a pair of wings across the entire front end. Large halogen headlamps wrap around to the sides, with optional fog lamps mounted below.

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-sideview_0670The latest Pathfinder has moved from a body-on-frame to a unibody and, therefore, is more aerodynamic, lighter and roomier, and has been crafted with some clever stowage features and technology capabilities that are stand out in its segment. The roof slants sharply down from the shoulders to the back, giving a more coupe-like stance despite its longer, three-row size. Character lines scoop out the midsection like a waist, and the rear liftback is topped by an integrated spoiler. Standard wheels are 18-inch alloys, with 20-inch wheels available on the top models.

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-energy_gauge_0465Slipping into the Pathfinder Hybrid, the only difference you’ll find from the traditional model are the hybrid system information screens that are incorporated into the instrument panel's Advanced Drive-Assist Display. A customizable, easy-to-read 4.2-inch color monitor provides visual power output readings from the electric motor and gas engine, and show the amount of power that is being regenerated back into the battery.

You’ll also find that the three-row Pathfinder is roomier than the previous generation version by 8.4 cubic feet overall. The second row splits 60/40 and can slide back and forth while keeping a child safety seat latched in – the second row moves five-and-a-half inches to allow entry into the third row, which splits 50/50. Both rear rows can fold flat to accommodate large cargo with 79.8 cubic feet of stowage, plus there’s additional under-floor storage behind the third row. Nissan claims best-in-class passenger volume, front head and leg room, as well as class-exclusive third-row reclining seats, a latch and glide system for second-row seats and the EZ Flex seating system. All this adds up to a more upscale ride, good elbow room, and a straightforwardness to getting riders situated in all rows.

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-interior_0455Pathfinder’s standard upholstery is premium cloth, with leather on board for higher trim levels; heated front seats also are standard on uplevel versions. An AM/FM/CD six-speaker stereo is standard, as is a 4-inch color display mounted in front of the driver, which includes vehicle vitals and other information. Either a 7- or 8-inch color display are available for infotainment, as well as Bluetooth a DVD entertainment system and other technology features that are available, depending on the trim level.

The Pathfinder Hybrid gets its mojo from a supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and a 15 kilowatt electric motor paired to a compact Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. For the science-minded, this system uses Nissan’s Intelligent Dual Clutch System that is the command central to manage power from both the electric motor and the gas engine to provide performance Nissan says is equal to the Pathfinder 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 model. This is important, because it means you can move quickly, when needed.

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-engine_0421sThe hybrid system is rated at 250 net horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 3.5-liter V-6 is rated at 260 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy for the new Pathfinder Hybrid is rated at 26 mpg combined, which is an increase of 24 percent over the standard Pathfinder. City fuel economy is 25 mpg, while highway mileage is rated at 28 mpg (27 mpg for the 4WD). With the Pathfinder Hybrid's 19.5-gallon fuel tank, which is the same size as 3.5-liter V-6-equipped models, driving range is estimated at more than 546 miles.

Matched to the hybrid’s engine is Nissan’s next-generation Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), as well as regenerative brakes to automatically recharge the battery during braking by converting the vehicle's kinetic energy that is otherwise lost in non-hybrid models. Like the conventional models, it is also the only vehicle in its class with selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD Lock modes from Nissan’s available intuitive ALL-MODE 4x4-i system, which means it does all the work for you! The dial for operating the 4WD system is located behind the gearshift and allows you to lock into four-wheel drive on rough terrain and in varying weather and pavement conditions with a quick turn of the switch. The intuitive Auto Mode senses slippery roads or rough terrain and automatically adjusts power to each wheel. When things smooth out, it switches back to two-wheel-drive mode. Pathfinder Hybrid’s standard towing rating is 3,500 pounds (when properly equipped).

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-badge_0642We drove both models recently and, like an ever-growing collection of hybrid models in today’s market, the Pathfinder Hybrid’s operation is very similar to its non-hybrid sibling, with nearly seamless transition between the crossover’s engine and battery power. Our drive route included city streets in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as bustling freeways over a course of 70 miles; with light-footed driving -- as opposed to heavy throttling -- we were able to achieve an impressive 35 mpg. Pathfinder’s unibody chassis gives a ride quality that is ‘car-like’ with responsive steering and Nissan’s engineers have worked their magic to make the cockpit whisper-quiet. Of note, since the battery is secured under the third-row seat, it doesn’t decrease passenger seating capacity or legroom in the second or third row or cargo space at the rear.

2014_Nissan_Pathfinder_hybrid-rearview_0645Pathfinder’s suspension is made up of of stabilizer bars in front and rear, with front independent struts and rear multi-link. Vehicle dynamic control and hill start assist are standard, as are six airbags and a tire pressure monitor system. A 360-degree view of the space immediately around the vehicle is available through the optional Around View sensor system. Four-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS are standard.

The 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid comes in six versions:Pathfinder SV 2WD Hybrid ($35, 110); Pathfinder SL 2WD Hybrid ($38, 050); Pathfinder Platinum 2WD Hybrid ($42, 750); Pathfinder SV 4WD Hybrid ($36, 710); Pathfinder SL 4WD Hybrid ($39, 650); and Pathfinder Platinum 4WD Hybrid ($44, 350).

Pathfinder SV models get a 6-way power adjusting driver’s seat, power windows and locks, AM/FM/6CD six-speaker audio system, tri-zone automatic climate control, two 12-volt power outlets and locking glovebox. Also onboard are a seven-inch color infotainment display, USB connection for iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, illuminated vanity mirrors, four 12-volt power outlets, leather-wrapped steering wheel, vehicle –speed sensitive wipers and silver roof rack with rails. The SL trim includes SV features plus halogen fog lamps, heated exterior mirrors, power rear liftgate, heated front seats and leather upholstery throughout, power adjusting passenger seats, heated second-row seats and auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass. ALL-MODE 4x4-I also is standard on Pathfinder SLs with 4WD. Platinum models get a heated power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Class III trailer hitch with tow harness, 20-inch alloy wheels, heated and cooled front seats, 13-speaker Bose audio system with 8-inch color display, DVD audio/video playback and DVD-based navigation with Bluetooth streaming audio, a 120-volt power outlet and the Around View monitor system.

In addition to the new Hybrid version, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder is available in four traditional internal combustion 3.5-liter V-6 models: S, SV, SL and Platinum, each offered in 4WD and 2WD.

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