With the introduction of an all-new fourth-generation Pathfinder for the 2013 model year, Nissan's legendary adventure-ready Next Gen SUV took a major step forward in refinement, enhanced fuel economy, cutting-edge technology and family utility – including its industry first EZ Flex Seating System with innovative LATCH AND GLIDE technology. Now, for the 2014 model year, the evolution of the Pathfinder continues with the introduction of a new affordable hybrid powertrain system designed to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions with no reduction of driving performance, passenger roominess or cargo capacity.
The Pathfinder's new Hybrid powertrain option will be available in three fully equipped trim levels - SV, SL and Platinum – when it joins the lineup in late summer 2013. It is expected to be priced at around just $3,000 more than Pathfinder 3.5-liter V6 models.
Said Nissan North America, Inc. Vice President, Product Planning Pierre Loing: "The Pathfinder Hybrid is highly affordable because it matches motor and battery size well, while minimizing the number of additional parts or modifications needed to the platform and body. It is designed as a logical bridge between conventional internal combustion engine powertrains and the wider acceptance of hybrid systems by providing enhanced efficiency with no compromises versus the standard vehicle."
Adventure goes green
Known as the perfect family adventure vehicle, the Pathfinder Hybrid blends "green" technology with comfortable seating for seven and 3,500-pound towing capacity (when properly equipped).
For the Hybrid version, Pathfinder's standard 3.5-liter V6 is replaced by a new supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a compact Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. The 15 kW electric motor and gas engine work in tandem to provide performance similar to the conventional Pathfinder. The system is rated at 250 net horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque – versus the 3.5-liter V6's 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque.
The hybrid system also uses a Nissan Intelligent Dual Clutch System (one motor / two clutch parallel system) that efficiently manages power from both the electric motor and the gas engine. Positioned between the gasoline engine and the next-gen Xtronic CVT (where the torque converter would normally be), the motor also functions as a generator, conveying energy from the CVT to the battery upon deceleration. One clutch is installed between the gasoline engine and the electric motor, the other within the CVT.
Fuel economy is estimated at 26 mpg Combined, an increase of 24 percent over the standard Pathfinder. Estimated City fuel economy is 25 mpg, while Highway mileage is estimated at 27 mpg. With the Pathfinder Hybrid's large 19.5-gallon fuel tank, the same as non-hybrid models, driving range is estimated at more than 526 miles.
Another key to the system's non-compromising design efficiency is the use of a space-saving Li-ion battery fitted under the 3rd row seat, preserving Pathfinder's unique 2nd row sliding functionality and easy access to the 3rd row. A regenerative braking system automatically recharges the battery by converting the vehicle's kinetic energy that would be otherwise lost in braking.
Said Loing: "With this innovative design, there is no reduction of passenger seating capacity, 2nd or 3rd row legroom or cargo space. And, with the flat rather than raised floor, entry and exit to and from every row is as easy and convenient as the non-hybrid Pathfinder models."
Visually the Pathfinder Hybrid is marked by efficient LED taillights and Nissan PUREDRIVE Hybrid badges. In addition, special hybrid information screens are added to the instrument panel's Advanced Drive-Assist Display.
Next generation style, spaciousness and comfort
Beyond its hybrid powertrain and distinctive LED taillights, the 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid is pure fourth-generation Pathfinder. That means that along with reduced weight of its unibody construction (versus the previous generation's body-on-frame design), it offers an attractive, aerodynamic exterior without compromising headroom or cargo capacity. The look is adventure-ready with wheel-oriented muscular fenders and a strong, stable stance. The upper body features an open cabin with a low beltline and thin A- and D-pillars, which flow smoothly into the rugged, durable-looking lower body. The coefficient of drag is 0.34.
Other exterior details include a wide chrome grille and large aerodynamic headlights, recessed front windshield wipers, chrome door handles and the large rear LED combination lights. An available Dual Panorama Moonroof, with sliding opening front panel and fixed rear glass panel which extends over the 2nd and 3rd rows, combines with the large windows to create an open, airy interior environment.
Pathfinder's quiet, comfortable interior includes a wide range of available features, including three rows of rich leather-appointed seating surfaces, heated and cooled front seats, heated 2nd row seats, heated steering wheel, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, multiple user memory settings and an advanced Bose Audio System with 13 speakers. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is standard (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately).
An unmatched level of versatility comes to life in the design of the 2nd and 3rd rows with exceptional 3rd row access - thanks to large rear door openings and the EZ Flex Seating System with 5.5 inches of 2nd row seat travel for ease of entry and exit to the 3rd row. The 60/40-split 2nd row features innovative LATCH AND GLIDE™ technology that allows forward movement and access to the 3rd row with a child safety seat remaining securely in place (on the passenger curb side). With the extensive 2nd row seat travel, it's easy to adjust legroom or accommodate cargo spontaneously as needed.
The 3rd row seat is a 50/50 split-folding design, offering added cargo flexibility, and it also reclines for greater passenger comfort - a feature not offered with other SUVs in class. Both the 2nd and 3rd row seats fold flat for optimal cargo capacity.
Thoughtful, advanced technology
Thoughtful technology is also found throughout the Pathfinder Hybrid interior, starting with the instrument panel, which includes the Advanced Drive-Assist Display in the center of the instrument cluster right in front of the driver. With hybrid-equipped models, the customizable, easy-to-read 4.2-inch color monitor can show power flow readings from the electric motor and gas engine, along with power regeneration back into the battery.
The instrument panel also includes a large multifunction center IT display, available Nissan Navigation System with NavTraffic real-time traffic and NavWeather weather information (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately), Zagat Survey restaurant guide, Streaming Audio via Bluetooth and RearView Monitor.
Pathfinder also features available advanced, class-exclusive Around View Monitor, which provides the driver a virtual 360-degree image of the area around the vehicle. Other technology includes Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, power rear liftgate, iPod integration and tri-zone entertainment system with 2nd row head restraint-mounted DVD display screens.
The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tire pressure display and class-exclusive Easy Fill Tire Alert that provides both visual and audible signals to help owners conveniently maintain correct tire pressures without the use of a gauge is standard. The available remote engine start function allows the climate control system to warm up or cool down the interior prior to driving.
Responsive handling, intelligent four-wheel drive
Like all Pathfinders, Hybrid versions offer a quiet, comfortable ride and handling provided by an independent strut front/multi-link rear suspension and with hydraulic electric power-assisted steering standard. Available wheel and tire combinations include 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 235/55R20 all-season tires.
With the available intuitive four-wheel drive, Pathfinder continues to serve as an excellent vehicle for inclement weather driving conditions.
Pathfinder is the only vehicle in class with selectable 2WD, Auto or 4WD Lock modes for its available intuitive ALL-MODE 4x4-i system. The system lets the driver choose full-time 2WD for maximum fuel economy, Auto mode to automatically monitor conditions and adjust the balance of power between front and rear wheels for best traction, or 4WD Lock mode when the confidence of full-time 4WD is desired. In addition, standard Hill Start Assist helps add control when starting and driving away on a steep incline (both 4WD and 2WD models).
Hybrid-equipped Pathfinders also retain the ability to tow boats, jet skis, trailers and a variety of other recreational gear with standard towing capacity of 3,500 pounds (when properly equipped).
"The Pathfinder Hybrid takes all the style, features, utility and amenities of the popular new Pathfinder and adds fuel efficiency and driving range, without losing one bit of its real-world, everyday lifestyle-enhancing fun and flexibility," concluded Loing. "As the most fuel-efficient Pathfinder ever, we believe it's going to be a great addition to the lineup for 2014."
Explore further: Honda Introduces All-New Insight Dedicated Hybrid Concept Vehicle at Paris Motor Show