Back in March when we drove the revamped Nissan Pathfinder we quickly discovered the previous rugged model had been ditched for a sophisticated, genuine seven seater. Now Nissan has pushed past generation Pathfinders even further into the dark ages by introducing a Hybrid drivetrain. EFTM has been behind the wheel of the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Ti.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
Externally there’s very little to differentiate the Hybrid variant from the rest of the range, aside from some badges and the addition of LED tail lights. I was reminded of just how deceptively large the new Pathfinder is. From the driver’s seat the sense of space reminded me of the enormous Nissan Patrol V8, probably due to the similar layout and switchgear. The “Pathy” simply has a substantial look and feel about it, mind you the 20’’ wheels on the Ti model certainly help fill out the flowing yet bulky body.
Interior wise the as-tested top spec Pathfinder Hybrid certainly feels like the 70k plus price tag. The dash probably cops a tad too much hard-wearing plastic, but the leather clad 7-seater with rearward facing TV monitors embedded in the front seat headrests plus the seemingly endless glass ceiling leave you feeling a tad spoilt.
But of course for any prospective buyer it’s all about the hybrid powertrain. A 2.5-litre supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine is joined by a 15kW electric motor. Thankfully the combination produces plenty of punch, although a little way off delivering a knockout blow.
From a standstill the petrol / electric combo catapults the Pathfinder up and away swiftly. Under hard acceleration the four-cylinder sounds a little raspy with an accompanying higher pitch whirl. Unlike some hybrids the Pathfinder petrol engine never totally shuts down, gliding along in an eerily silent way. The electric motor is simply there to lend a helping hand at all times.
Steering is very light and once familiar with its dimensions it can be threaded through traffic and car parks with relative ease.
Ins and outs
Until now only a petrol V6 engine was available for the Pathfinder. Joining the line up is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit combined with a 15kW torque assist electric motor. Maximum power is rated at 188kW with a peak of 330Nm, the way the torque is delivered is said to be almost identical to the V6-powered version.
The whole point of investing in hybrid technology is to save at the pump. During our week with the 4WD Ti model we averaged 9.4L / 100km. The 91RON claimed figures are 8.4L (2WD) and 8.5L (AWD) respectively. Earlier in the year we pulled an 11.9 in the corresponding V6 Ti model. Nissan promotes the hybrid drivetrain as using 15 percent less fuel, and it does. But it’s also more expensive, so it’s a matter of doing the sums.
The way the Pathfinder petrol-electric powertrain operates is slightly complicated. But essentially two clutches operate in tandem to determine when and how the two power systems interact with each other. Drive is sent to the wheels via Nissan’s X-TRONIC transmission, which is a continuously variable setup.
A 144 volt Lithium-ion battery sits under the third row seats and doesn’t intrude on interior space whatsoever. Typically for a hybrid, regenerative brakes feed voltage back into the battery, while the electric motor also acts as a generator while decelerating.
There’s an interesting system known as Active Noise Control (ANC). Microphones are used to detect unwanted noises. The system emits an equal and opposite sound frequency via the audio system to cancel unwanted frequencies. To be honest you’ll never be conscious of the technology operating, the cabin is reasonably whisper quiet as it is. More sound deadening properties are added via fancy engine mounts which help isolate vibrations from the petrol engine.
As with the rest of the range the Pathfinder Hybrid is broken down into the familiar ST, ST-L or fully loaded Ti variants.
In the back are 5 more seats, with the third row able to accommodate moderately sized humans with acceptable comfort. With plenty of air vents to keep everyone comfortable the huge cabin is a very attractive proposition for those that need it.
The 4WD system can handle a variety of terrains although prefers only light work. There’s no mechanical locking centre differential or even a low range option. You can lock the drivetrain in 4WD but only up to 40km/h.
Towing capacity is down in the Pathfinder Hybrid to 1,650kg (braked trailer.) The Pathfinder V6 has a towing capacity of 2,700kg (braked trailer).
This is no doubt a decent troop carrier. Kids will love the top model’s dual rear entertainment screens and panoramic glass roof. By investing in the hybrid technology you are granting yourself the fuel economy of a smaller four cylinder SUV, but at a price…
The Pathfinder Hybrid ST (2WD) starts from $42,990, the ST-L from $57,490 and the top-tier Ti peaks at $68,090. An option pack for the ST-L is available for an additional $2100. In general all hybrid models carry a $3000 premium over their petrol counterparts. Keep in mind drive-away prices will add at least another $3000 – $5000.
Fuel consumption (91RON) is 8.4L / 100km (2WD) and 8.5L / 100km for 4WD variants.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
I’m pretty enthusiastic about the fourth generation Nissan Pathfinder. Earlier in the year I predicted it to be a big hit on Aussie roads, and there seems be plenty around. I’d take the Hybrid model over the V6, but do have reservations about the price premium, I’m just not sure it’s worth it. Despite this the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid secures the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.