2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid | First Drive

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

In retrospective of last year’s review, our impression of the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder has generally been positive.  The new 2014 Nissan Pathfinder model is ultimately unchanged with the exception of an added hybrid power train configuration to increase fuel economy.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom
From our review last year, we made a point that the all new Nissan Pathfinder released last year was a symbol of need as opposed to want.  To elaborate on what we mean by that, the days of ultra-heavy duty SUV’s and massive hauling capabilities has generally been phased out in favor of practicality and fuel efficiency.  But that doesn’t mean the Nissan Pathfinder has completely diverged from its true off-road genetics from former generations.  The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder is still capable of hauling 3,500 pounds and offers 39.8 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats folded down.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

New to the 2014 Pathfinder mechanics is the hybrid power train splitting power between a supercharged 2.5 liter four cylinder engine and a 15 kilowatt electric induction motor.  The combined power output equates to 250 horsepower and 243 foot-lbs of torque.  While this is a degraded output of 10 horsepower, the torque output is increased by 3 foot-lbs of torque compared to the non-hybrid model.

Styling and Features

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder shares much of the charming features from its higher luxury end Infiniti JX35.  Interior cabin space employs a full on suite of luxury qualities including a 7″ LCD infotainment display, bordered mahogany wood framing, and soft leather panels throughout the interior panels.  At an overall length of 5008 mm and width of 1960mm, there is no shortage of room on the inside.  Front and second row passengers will enjoy a plethora of legroom while the taller remaining three of seven passengers will have to fight for second row seats as leg room is diminished on the 3rd row.  Nevertheless, the space capacity holds on restrictions to anyone with large families or carrying bulk gear for the road trip warriors.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

While smaller than your typical minivan, the seven seater Nissan Pathfinder is still a fairly large vehicle and is noticeable in down town driving and underground parking.  Overall visibility is good, but we did find that the thick chassis frame and massive side-view mirrors obstructed the front view when making driver-side turns.  Especially for its size, proven to be an angel feature is the panoramic and rear-view camera system equipped with our test model helped greatly in parking the 2014 Pathfinder in tight spaces.

Powertrain and Performance

Driving experience with the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid didn’t quite mark an epoch in our log books.  At a curb weight of 4, 458 pounds, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder substantially heavier than some of its 7 seater competitors such as the Mazda CX7 and Hyundai Santa Fe.  The good news is that the Pathfinder comes equipped with a true four wheel drive traction and overall looks and feel is generally much more solid than the aforementioned.  The on-board four cylinder engine and 15 kilowatt motor produces 270 horsepower coupled to a CVT transmission.  Although the hybrid model weighs about 228 pounds more than its non-hybrid version, its acceleration performance is still on par thanks to its instantaneous torque delivery by the electric induction motor.  We’ve also tested previous Nissan models with CVT transmissions and had no complaints with it in the hybrid Nissan Pathfinder.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

What the Pathfinder does lack is the acceleration and responsiveness reasoned by its heavy curb weight and heavy sag in its suspension setup.  Acceleration from stand still is quite a bit sluggish and the 20 horsepower electric motor doesn’t help much until the engine is fired up.  While the super-charger helps in delivering a more linear power output from the engine, there is no escape from the lower end power specifications.  As a result, highway merging and lane changing a bit of pre-planning in the Pathfinder.

Driving Impressions and Final Thoughts

In terms of the hybrid power train, all the basic functionality is there, but still has some ways to go to compete with its competitors.  We felt that the accelerator sensitivity could have been better tuned to help segment out economy and power bands, like the Toyota hybrid.  The absence of this feature resulted in unintuitive accelerator pedal positioning and I’ve often resorted to flooring the accelerator pedal instead of intuitively guessing how deep to press the accelerator pedal down.  The hybrid system is not quite perfected yet, and there are a few small quirks in the hybrid system as well.  For example, hill assist is a bit finicky, engine doesn’t need to be fired up when rolling down a hill from standstill, and I did not get full regenerative braking when coasting down a long steep hill indicated by the hybrid power meter on the dashboard.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Offers 26 MPG Combined Fuel Econom

In terms of pricing, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is not cheap.  With all said and done, our tested model priced in at 46,364$.  All the high-end bells and whistles are there, namely the appealing interior cabin space, luxury styling, and overall ruggedness of the chassis and four wheel drive system.  Fuel economy on the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid scores in at 25/27 mpg in city and highway driving.  Normally, added wind resistance and various factors in real world driving is not accounted for EPA fuel ratings.  But to our surprise, our measured fuel consumption during our test drive was quite accurate to EPA ratings at 25.8 mpg for combined city and highway driving.

Nissan has made a great start with its hybrid powertrain, but just like anything else, it takes substantially more effort to bring the perfection level up from 95 to 100%.  While all the basic hybrid features are there, its intelligence needs to be a bit more polished with orchestrating its on board engine and electric motor control.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Price as Tested $51,914
Powertrain 2.5L Supercharged Engine + 184.4 KW AC Induction Motor
Transmission XTronic CVT Transmission
Drivetrain 4×4-i 4WD System
0-60 Acceleration N/A
Seating Capacity 7 Passenger
Cargo Space 19.8 Cubic Feet
Fuel Economy 25/27 MPG (City/Highway)