Vital Stats

Engine:
SC 2.5L I4 + 15-kW Electric Motor
Power:
250 HP / 243 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,573 LBS
Seating:
2+3+2
Cargo:
79.8 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
25 City / 28 HWY
Base Price:
$35,110
If you've been keeping up with our long-term 2013 Nissan Pathfinder coverage, you already know that, generally speaking, we dig it. After racking up 21,000 miles (and climbing!) on our dear Sweet Brown, we've become very, very familiar with the Pathfinder package as a whole, and many of us actually prefer it over competitors like the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse.

For 2014, Nissan has added a new hybrid option for its Pathfinder, using an all-new powertrain that will also be shared with the CUV's Infiniti-badged QX60 sibling. As far as fuel economy is concerned, our long-term Pathfinder has had no problem hitting its EPA-estimated numbers of 19 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway, but this new hybrid model is said to be good for an increase in overall economy – 25/28 mpg (city/highway) when equipped with front-wheel drive and 25/27 mpg with optional four-wheel drive.

We recently took the 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid for a quick spin around the city streets of Nashville, TN. And while our time with the non-hybrid Pathfinder has been pretty enjoyable overall, at first blush, we're having a tougher time warming up to this electrified variant.

Driving Notes
  • The 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid is powered by a supercharged, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine which, on its own, is good for 230 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. Nissan has coupled that four-pot with a 15-kilowatt electric motor, which brings overall system output up to 250 hp and 243 lb-ft – a decrease of 10 hp versus the non-hybrid model, but a gain of 3 lb-ft.
  • Nissan once again employs its well-behaved continuously variable transmission here in the Pathfinder Hybrid, and really, it's fine. Nothing to write home about, for sure, but CVTs (well, e-CVTs in most hybrids) have long been the tranny of choice for hybrid applications, and when it comes to continuously variable units, Nissan does them better than most.
  • Compared to the standard Pathfinder, this hybrid model is 228 pounds heavier (comparing Platinum trim levels). Yet you don't really feel the added heft on the road. For starters, the Hybrid's 243 lb-ft of torque comes on at 3,600 rpm versus the non-hybrid's 240 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm, and the wee bit of electric assist at takeoff means this heavier model still gets up and goes just as quickly as it ever did. No official 0-60 numbers are available for either model, but we're willing to bet the two are awfully close – if there is a difference, it's not really noticeable from behind the wheel in city driving.
  • That said, the hybrid system isn't nearly as smooth as we'd like, especially off the line. The throttle feels dead at initial tip-in, and you really have to dig into the rightmost pedal to get the Pathfinder Hybrid to move. Once it's in motion, the gasoline engine kicks in with an uncultivated action and coarse sound.
  • There's a similar sort of displeasure when its time to bring things to a halt. Just the opposite from the vague throttle response, the brakes are particularly grabby right from the get-go, presumably because the system is programed to eke out as much regenerative braking energy as it can. Sure, you get used to it, but we'd certainly like a brake pedal that's easier to modulate with a more linear feel. All-in, the Pathfinder Hybrid just isn't as smooth and easy to drive as its non-hybrid sibling.
  • As far as real-world economy goes, we didn't have a chance to get seriously accurate numbers, given the extreme brevity of our test drive (15 miles through the city). That said, we've not yet had any real discrepancies with Nissan's official mileage numbers, and 26 mpg combined doesn't seem too far-fetched for this hybridized Pathfinder.
  • Aside from the powerplant, Nissan hasn't made any other changes to the Pathfinder in creating this hybrid model, save a set of redesigned, full-LED taillamps that are exclusive to the electrified variant, as well as the obvious exterior badging.
  • The same can be said for the interior, where everything has been left alone. No complaints here, as our time with the long-term 2013 Pathfinder can attest to. And unlike other hybrid vehicles, Nissan has managed to package the battery system in a way that it doesn't impede interior functionality – the Pathfinder Hybrid's cabin is just as capacious as the standard model.
  • Nissan will offer the Pathfinder Hybrid in SV, SL, SL Premium, Platinum and Platinum Premium trims, starting at a base price of $35,110 (not including $860 for destination) – a $3,000 up-charge from the non-hybrid version. A fully loaded Platinum Premium 4WD will set you back $47,510..
  • From where we sit, that's quite a price premium considering what the Pathfinder Hybrid offers. Despite offering a combined fuel economy rating that's 4 mpg better than the gas-only model, it doesn't offer anything additional in the way of creature comforts and amenities, it's more complex, and frankly, it's not as nice to drive. Of course, we need more time behind the wheel to see what sort of real-world numbers this hybrid system can achieve, but for the moment at least, we aren't sold.
  • That's a shame, too. We like the Pathfinder a whole lot, but unless Nissan can smooth out its gasoline-electric powertrain, we just don't see any reason to pony up the dough for the Hybrid.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      Basil Exposition
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Adding Efficiency, Removing Enjoyment" Not sure there was any enjoment available for removal in the the gas version...
      dskchan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like the current highlander does a much better job. Toyota put one of the three electric motors on the back wheels and you get 4wd automatically. The gas mileage is closer to 30mpg and all for around 40k.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dskchan
        Closer to 30MPG? , go check fuelly, most people get 26, the best is 27. while we wait for pathfinder numbers to compare the two system. And you pay for it with toyota with those addition motors, this vehicle can be had for 36K with Auto select AWD, toyota is $40k , and disadvantage if you skid those motor burn, with this system you can skid all you want
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          @ pavsterrocks, sorry I am just getting back to you have to go to work, you ask for evidence.Here is one owner who has one and was stuck in snow, and there are several more, this system is not good for off roading or snow.although his motor was not burn, there was one guy who's motor was burned. http://www.greenhybrid.com/discuss/f31/highlander-hybrid-boat-anchor-snow-12464/
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          toyota traction is auto in wet condition,snow etc, when it is stuck in snow it skid the motor becomes hot and burn, there was some article date back about the problem.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          i should not say skid it should have being stuck , it could not move so it over heated and burn.
      Go2Fast
      • 1 Year Ago
      amazing how wimp-ified this "SUV" became.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Nothing to write home about, for sure, but CVTs (well, e-CVTs in most hybrids) have long been the tranny of choice for hybrid applications, and when it comes to continuously variable units, Nissan does them better than most." Note that Nissan's CVT as seen in this hybrid is completely different from a eCVT as seen on Ford and Toyota hybrids. Nissan uses a steel belt drive CVT just like in their non-hybrid pathfinder. Toyota and ford (Chevy also in the Volt) doesn't really have a transmission at all, meaning there's nothing really to break. They use a planetary gearset (aka "power split device"). You might not notice a difference behind the wheel, but mechanically, Nissan's CVT drivetrain could not be more different from the other eCVT systems. Nissan's system is likely to be slightly more efficient but it is also heavier, more expensive to manufacture and repair, and much more complicated and therefore prone to wear out or otherwise fail over the long term. power split device (Toyota, Ford): http://auto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car7.htm belt CVT (Nissan): http://auto.howstuffworks.com/cvt.htm
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        you got two thing wrong heavier and and more expensive to manufacture, nissan system uses the same CVT, it replace the torque converter with motor and clutches, hence it cheaper and easier to manufacture, because the internal components are the same as the regular CVT, Toyota system has a motor that drives the car and mechanical setup , that systems is more heavier and cost more,as it needs an addition motor to recharge battery
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          Everyone knows the toyota system is heavier, the nissan , hyundai and audi, VW uses the same setup, not the same transmission, but it is the same, research it, all uses one motor and clutches and their transmission , the audi/Vw made by bosch and nissan system is very indentical, only the CVT is use by nissan. All manufacture are deem more lighter, than toyota system, it does not matter what you believe the facts are there to research, and that is toyota system is heavier and cost more, and honda has the a similar system now as toyota, look at it cost and weight.
      SethG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Given how popular they are, I find the lack of innovation in the 3 row CUV segment pretty shocking. The GM Lambdas are from 2006 and the Mazda CX-9 is from 2007 and they all are still very competitive in the class. I keep thinking that someone's going to come out with something that really shakes things up but the Explorer, Pathfinder, Santa Fe and new Highlander really just give us what we've come to expect. I really think car to really shake things up will be the one that can do all the stuff the rest of the class does but with significantly better fuel economy. And with that in mind, maybe it will be this Pathfinder although it would have to provide great economy with AWD as well.
        Jamie Elmhirst
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SethG
        I agree. Given the Ford/Mazda divorce, my hope is that the next Gen Mazda CX-9 becomes a diesel-only as Mazda is not doing any V6 engine development - or at least offers a diesel option. That would offer the kind of leap forward in fuel economy you're hoping for.
      Juan
      • 1 Year Ago
      this thing is ugly.
      b
      • 1 Year Ago
      Despite the price and powertrain, this is one of the rare times a hybrid looks better than its gas powered equivalent
        b
        • 1 Year Ago
        @b
        Or I should say, doesn't look worse than its gas powered equivalent
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