Statistics show Australians are continuing to swing towards SUVs and away from large passenger cars and wagons. Nissan has benefited from this trend with its seven-seat Pathfinder finding many buyers.
But what about fuel consumption? Yes SUVs offer greater convenience for growing families but there’s no doubt you can suffer at the fuel pump.
Nissan is all over this issue with the new Pathfinder Hybrid. With its supercharged four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain providing superior performance to the petrol V6 while delivering fuel consumption savings of around 15 per-cent – well, yes we do have a good-sized seven-seat SUV with fuel consumption to mirror a four-cylinder.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Overview
Nissan launched the hybrid models of its all-new Pathfinder SUV range some time after the V6 petrol models. Like the rest of the Pathfinder lineup, the hybrid versions are offered in three model grades starting from $42,990 for the ST model in 2WD.
For www.carshowroom.com.au Nissan made available a Pathfinder Hybrid in mid-sped ST-L which amongst its extras like leather seats etc also gained all-wheel-drive. Our test car carried at $57,490 price sticker.
Range-topper is the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Ti which will set you back $68,090 and adds extra such as 20-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, BOSE audio and superb dual seven-inch rear DVD screens to keep the youngsters entertained on long trips.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Engine
For many of those new car buyers opting for SUVs like the Nissan Pathfinder over traditional passenger cars and wagons, increased fuel consumption is a factor in the purchase process. The task for Nissan’s engineers was the devise a Pathfinder which combined the attributes of its V6-powered model with the sort of fuel consumption numbers one associates with four-cylinder engines.
The solution is a supercharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid which, for Nissan tragics is code-numbered QR25DER . With 188kW/330Nm from the internal combustion engine boosted by 15kW from the electric motor, the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid has 5.0Nm more torque and only 2.0kW less power than its 3.5-litre V6 petrol stablemates.
But here’s the kicker – our AWD Pathfinder Hybrid ST-L offered combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.5l/100kms (8.2l/100kms for the front-drive ST Hybrid version). The V6 petrol Nissan Pathfinder’s figures range from 9.9l/100kms to 10.2l/100kms.
Nissan’s hybrid drivetrain is relatively straight-forward as the engine and electric motor are independent and both are connected to the CVT automatic transmission via dual electromagnetic clutches. However, unlike Lexus there is no pure EV mode.
Apart from the 144-volt lithium-ion battery pack which is stored under the third row seat, there is very little that’s different about the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid compared to its petrol sibling. For example the ST-L hybrid we tested tipped the scales at 2073kgs and the equivalent petrol V6 model is only marginally lighter at 2025kgs.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid The Interior
As we know, Nissan’s all-new Pathfinder went mainstream. No longer targeting the heavy-duty off-road brigade, Pathfinder now is plush and shows-off its North American market appeal with large, comfy seats and plenty of interior space.
The ST-L model we tested certainly pushed the value button with its leather seats, dual sunroofs and satellite navigation (optional). There was even electric adjustment for the steering column.
We liked Nissan’s new four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel – a nice size and strong on the tactile stuff. And new Pathfinder’s dashboard/instrumentation is nicely done with a curved binnacle housing dual round gauges separated by a useful secondary info LCD screen.
The Car Showroom juniors liked their seat which offered sliding fore/aft adjustment and massive leg-room and shoulder space. Unlike many seven-seaters, adults needn’t be shy about climbing into the third row seats of the Nissan Pathfinder – access is excellent, there’s ample space and handy air-vents (the latter absent in some rivals).
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Exterior & Styling
Apart from the small hybrid badge on the rear there was no external identification to separate our Nissan Pathfinder test car from its conventional siblings. And that’s a good thing because Nissan’s latest Pathfinder boasts some nice contemporary good looks.
No hiding its aspirations for the North American market, the Pathfinder is large with the usual large front grille containing strong vertical elements (the current Nissan SUV theme). Our ST-L model benefited from the standard front fog lights which make the front-end more cohesive.
From the side the latest Nissan Pathfinder shows-off some new curves (when compared to its predecessor) and a nice glass-to-body ratio. Some extra chrome side mouldings are also part of the ST-L package.
At the rear too, owners of existing Nissan Pathfinders will notice the new model has lots more roundness than the boxy model they’re driving. In fact you could say Nissan Pathfinder’s shift from boxy workhorse to curvy wagon perfectly reflects the changes which have swept across the SUV landscape.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid On The Road
We defy those who criticize SUVs employing Continuously Variable Transmissions to complain about the Pathfinder with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. Time moves on, CVTs are here to stay and Nissan is at the top of the totem pole with the Xtronic - not particularly intrusive and affording good response when asked for a quick response when overtaking.
Your www.carshowroom.com.au tester has driven lost of Nissan Pathfinders over the years and, at first, found it strange to be driving one without the regulation V6 growl. But, combine that transmission smoothness with the impressive response of the 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain and, yes, you do have a large SUV with the performance of a V6 and the fuel consumption of a four-cylinder…and that’s excellent to be honest.
And refinement is still impressively good. One contributing factor to this is Electric Active Control Mounts (E-ACM) which support the engine and when vibration is detected, apply a reverse-phase cancelling force.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid was certainly on the same page as say the Toyota Kluger or Hyundai Santa Fe. That’s to say it was amongst best of these types.
Naturally there was some body roll when pressing-on hard through tight corners and there was certainly some understeer at the very limit. But the limits were high and even in wet conditions the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid never needed to move into AWD.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Challenges
Just a minor points deduction for some of the minor interior trim plastics which look as though they’ve been sacrificed in the name of keeping costs down – at loggerheads to be honest with Nissan Pathfinder’s otherwise standout interior.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Verdict
Combining the attributes of SUVs with optimized fuel consumption is the focus of most automotive brands these days. In that context you must tip your cap to Nissan for the Pathfinder Hybrid which delivers the grunt of the petrol V6 and the fuel consumption of a four-cylinder.
Sure the hybrid Pathfinder pulls-up a little bit short in towing capacity compared to the V6 (1650kgs to 2700kgs) but you do get all of the interior practicality, space for seven people and smooth driving dynamics which make the Pathfinder a star in the Nissan SUV range. For most that will not be a deal-breaker as statistics show very few people actually regularly tow really big trailers (and for them Nissan has the Patrol).
We rate the Nissan Pathfinder very highly and, all things considered, the Hybrid is probably the Pathfinder variant we’d choose.
But good as the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is, we do recall former BMW boss Dr Bernd Pischetsreider who once said diesel-electric hybrids make much more sense than petrol-electric hybrids. Some would say the lack of any kind of diesel is a shortcoming of the Nissan Pathfinder lineup but a diesel-electric hybrid would certainly be a ‘home-run’.
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid The Competition
Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is the obvious most direct rival for the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. While the entry-level Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid ST is priced at $42,990, substantially undercutting the PHEV’s kick-off sticker of $47,490, the up-spec Pathfinder ST-L we tested starts at $57,490 which is $5,000 more than the PHEV Aspire ($52,490). Of course the Pathfinder’s supercharged 2.5-litre has considerably more grunt with 188kW/330Nm to 149kW/195Nm for Mitsubishi’s 2.0-litre, the Nissan is surprisingly ahead in fuel consumption (8.5l/100kms to 9.8l/100kms) and the Pathfinder comes standard as a seven-seater.
Major rival Toyota Kluger is exclusively petrol V6 and with fuel consumption of 10.2l/100kms – 10.6l/100kms is a long way shy of the Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid’s 8.5l/100kms. The made-in-America Kluger is a cracking SUV which drives great, looks good and provides massive interior space. Two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive and with prices range from $40,990 to $67,990…well there’s a Toyota Kluger to suit just about everyone and no wonder it’s massively popular.