2014 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum Premium hybrid

2014 Nissan Pathfinder hybrid

2014 Nissan Pathfinder hybrid

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2014 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum Premium Hybrid, MSRP $49,198

Bottom Line:  This hybrid SUV provides a new powertrain option for the Nissan’s 7-passenger Pathfinder that earned a place on our Top Ten Drives list in 2013.  This large SUV packs a respectable 250 (combined) horsepower and gives good power and fuel economy, but feels noticeably weaker than the ‘gruntier’ 260 horsepower 3.5-litre V6 gasoline engine.

What’s the Pathfinder hybrid’s ‘real world’ fuel mileage?

The Pathfinder hybrid’s fuel mileage is a ‘good news, bad news’ situation.  We tested the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid in mild winter conditions in mostly city driving (where hybrids perform the best.)  The CUV delivered a respectable 14.0 l/100 km (as measured and calculated manually.)  As in the majority of vehicles we’ve tested, the Nissan’s onboard computer displayed an overly optimistic 12.0 l/100 km.  Still, the ‘actual’ fuel consumption of 14.0 l/100 km is a long, long way from NRCan’s official fuel economy rating of 7.8 l/100 km (determined under laboratory conditions.  As usual, the ‘official’ fuel economy ratings should be used only for comparison shopping.)  By comparison, the 2014 BMW X5 (with a naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre inline 6-cylinder engine, full-time AWD and automatic transmission) returned about 14.0 l/100 km, also in mostly city driving.

How does the Pathfinder hybrid drive?

The Pathfinder hybrid is a large CUV and drives pretty much like the gasoline version.  We tested the hybrid right after testing the Mercedes-Benz E250 turbodiesel, which, with 369 lb-ft of torque, accelerates impressively.  The Pathfinder hybrid has a throttle with slow tip in, so one needs to depress the accelerator aggresively to make the big wagon move from a stop with any briskness.  The electric motor kicks in to help the 2.5-litre supercharged 4-cylinder engine when accelerating from a stop and seamlessly kicks in and out variously while cruising or when more power is demanded.

The gas/electric power system is fitted with automatic start/stop, but only works when the engine is warm and above certain ambient temperatures.

The Pathfinder hybrid’s handling is pretty much the same as the ‘normal’ gasoline V6’s.  Steering is slightly numb, but direct.  The Pathfinder goes obediently where it’s directed, and the four-wheel independent suspension absorbs potholes and rough pavement well, keeping occupants comfortable.  Sight lines are good all around, but the Nissan (unusually) is not fitted with a blind spot warning system.

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What are the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid’s most attractive features?

We were very impressed with Nissan’s 360-degree camera, which automatically turns on when reversing.  There are four cameras (front, rear and under each side mirror) giving the driver a panoramic view around the vehicle on the large, clear dashboard colour display.  You can even manually switch on the cameras to help you better naviagate when pulling into tight spaces.

The third row seats are very easy to access.  Simply slide the second row split-section forward, pull one lever to fold the seatback down, and step into the third row.

Third row seats are easy to fold flat or pull into the upright position using cloth straps, and when the second and third rows are folded down, the cargo deck is flat.

Finally, we like the fuel efficiency of the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder hybrid.  According to NRCan, the annual cost of fuel for this SUV is calculated to be $1924.  (Remember, this figure is for comparison shopping.)  That’s pretty impressive, and only slightly more than NRCan’s estimated annual fuel cost for the 2014 Nissan Rogue AWD ($1898) or a 4-cylinder 2014 Toyota Camry ($1820.)

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How do the ‘numbers’ look for buying the hybrid ?

Hybrid vehicles almost never make sense if you crunch the numbers.  At $7100 more than the 2014 Pathfinder Platinum (with 3.5-litre gasoline V6 engine), the Pathfinder Hybrid is a tough sell.  Based on today’s gasoline prices ($1.08 per litre, Feb. 4, 2014), assuming 20,000 kilometres per year (in all city driving, giving the hybrid the greatest advantage) and using NRCan’s city fuel economy rating, the hybrid will theoretically save its owner $500 dollars per year in fuel costs over the ‘normal’ Pathfinder.  That works out to a 14.2 year time frame to break even.

We really like the Nissan Pathfinder.  It earned a spot on our Top Drives of 2013 List.  For our money, the hybrid’s advantages over the non-hybrid version are very slim considering the $7100 premium.  We’d choose any model of the non-hybrid Pathfinder before plunking down our hard earned money for the hybrid, and with the whack of money we saved, use it for a fabulous road trip with the family.

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