Nissan Pathfinder
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Overall

After introducing a three-rows-of-seats car-based Pathfinder in 2013, Nissan now offers a fuel-saving Hybrid model aimed straight at Toyota Highlander buyers.

Drivetrain

Regular versions use a single 260-horsepower V6; new Hybrid comes with a supercharged four-cylinder and electric motor with virtually the same power and torque as the V6; both front- and four-wheel-drive models work with a continuously variable transmission.

A dramatic re-imaging of Nissan’s legendary Pathfinder in 2013 saw a serious weight-loss regimen. It shed about 240 pounds (320 pounds on 4×4 units) compared to the old truck-based model. The diet included converting to a unitized (frameless) platform shared with Nissan’s Infiniti JX/QX luxury wagon. Nissan’s 3.5-liter V6 that generates 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque will be the engine of choice for most buyers, teamed with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that replaces the previous five-speed automatic. Front-wheel-drive versions are rated at 20 mpg city and 26 on the highway, while four-wheel-drive Pathfinders achieve 19/25. While those are serious improvements over previous Pathfinders, there’s a new fuel-saving option available for 2014: a gasoline-electric hybrid. It uses a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that’s paired with a 15-kilowatt electric motor to deliver 250 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. Fuel efficiency is improved to 25/27 with similar drops for four-wheel-drive. A compact lithium-ion battery is stowed under the third-row seat and doesn’t affect cabin or cargo space at all. Driving range is also extended to more than 525 miles given that both Pathfinders share the same size fuel tank. Nissan’s All-Mode 4×4-i option allows you to select either two- or four-wheel-drive, or engage the Auto setting and let the All-Mode make the call based on which tire(s) has traction. There is a penalty to be paid for the new Pathfinder’s weight and power decrease in that the maximum towing capacity has been curtailed to 5,000 pounds from 7,000 (3,500 for the Hybrid). Visually, Hybrid models are differentiated by LED taillights and subtle badges along with different wheel designs. As for passengers, there’s a third row reclining seat and a second row with five inches of fore and aft travel, while a portion of the split-second bench slides forward for easier third-row access, even if there’s a child seat attached. The base Pathfinder S arrives with tri-zone climate control and 14 cup/bottle holders. The SV (which is the base Hybrid trim) adds roof rails and a rearview monitor while leather-covered seats, remote engine start and a power liftgate are SL highlights. From there the sky’s the limit where the SL Premium, Platinum and Platinum Premium trim levels are concerned. An up-level sound system, Around View camera, panorama moonroof and a navigation system are on the menu, depending on the depth of your pockets.

Base price (incl. destination): $31,100; $34,000 (Hybrid)
Type: Four-door tall wagon
Engine (hp): 3.5-liter DOHC V6 (260)
Optional engine (hp): 2.5-liter DOHC I4, supercharged, w/electric assist (250)
Layout: Front-engine, front- /four-wheel-drive
Transmission: Continuously variable
MPG (city/highway): 20/26 (FWD)
Safety: Front airbags, side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; stability control; traction control
Weight (lb.): 4,170