What is it?
A hybrid-powered version of the three-row 2014 Nissan Pathfinder crossover SUV.
The Pathfinder hybrid made a surprise debut at the 2013 New York Auto Show. Instead of the Pathfinder's regular 3.5-liter V6 engine, the hybrid model gets a supercharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that's paired with a 15 kilowatt electric motor. Total output is 250 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, which compares surprisingly well to the standard Pathfinder's V6 engine with 260 hp and 240 lb-ft. Like an increasing number of hybrids these days, the Pathfinder hybrid uses more efficient lithium-ion technology for its battery pack rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries found in older hybrids.
Fuel economy for the hybrid is estimated at 26 mpg overall (25 city/27 highway), a significant improvement over the conventional Pathfinder's 22 mpg overall (20 city/26 highway). Nissan claims the hybrid can cover more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas.
Exact pricing hasn't been announced, but Nissan says the hybrid Pathfinder will cost about $3,000 more than a comparably equipped regular Pathfinder. That puts the Pathfinder hybrid at around $35,000 to start.
When can you get it?
Late summer 2013.
Add it to your shopping list because...
Survey after survey shows that fuel economy is one of the most important considerations these days for car buyers. That being the case, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder hybrid arrives at exactly the right time. Although 26 mpg may not seem that impressive, it's pretty cool when you consider that the hybrid Pathfinder retains the regular model's three-row seating layout. Most three-row crossovers struggle to get much above 20 mpg. As an added perk, Nissan says the lithium-ion battery pack is so compact and well-packaged that cargo capacity isn't affected at all.
Other cars to consider:
Toyota Highlander Hybrid: The current 2013 Highlander hybrid is on its way out the door, but it's still great to drive and packed with appealing features, not least its strong V6-based hybrid powertrain that yields a combined 28 mpg. Keep an eye out for an all-new hybrid version of the 2014 Highlander in the not-too-distant future.
Used Audi Q7 TDI: Although the diesel-powered, three-row Q7 TDI has a starting price in the stratosphere, you could find a certified pre-owned one in the $35,000-40,000 range without too much difficulty, and this leather-lined tank has seriously good fuel economy. The 2012 model, for example, may only be rated at 20 mpg overall (17 city/25 highway) by the EPA, but we've seen nearly 30 mpg in real-world driving.
Would you opt for the hybrid version of the new Nissan Pathfinder? Tell us in the comments.