Ready to roll down a slightly greener trail of its own, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid got its world reveal in New York. This more eco-friendly variation on the automaker's new-for-2013 Gen IV Pathfinder SUV provides an interesting and affordable alternative choice that Nissan says will deliver significantly better overall fuel economy with no loss of driving performance, passenger room or cargo capacity.

Few visual cues distinguish the new Pathfinder Hybrid from its conventional sibling. In fact, the sole external tipoffs are energy-saving LED taiilamps and "PUREDRIVE Hybrid" badging. It's a different story underhood, where the Pathfinder's standard 3.5-liter/260-horsepower V6 gives way to 2.5-liter supercharged 4-cylinder matched with a 20.1-horsepower electric motor/generator fed by a compact lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the third-row seat.

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Collectively, the Pathfinder Hybrid system makes 250 horsepower and develops 243 lb-ft of torque -- three more twist units than the V6. Like the standard Pathfinder, the new Hybrid sends this gas/electric power to either the front or all four wheels via Nissan's sophisticated Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Unlike the base Pathfinder, motive force from each source is managed by a new, bespoke version of Nissan's Intelligent Dual Clutch System that's been specifically engineered for use in a front-drive/four-wheel drive hybrid system. Nissan says the setup is expected to deliver a 24 percent increase in overall fuel economy compared to the standard V6, and net 25/27/26 mpg city/highway/combined EPA figures. With a 19.5-gallon fuel tank, the new Pathfinder Hybrid has an estimated range of 526 miles and will be able to tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped. Like other hybrids, it uses regenerative braking for on-the-fly battery replenishment.  

The Pathfinder Hybrid will be available in SV, SL and Platinum trim levels. Save for a dedicated driver-selectable readout in the Advanced Drive-Assist Display that can show power flow and battery regen info, the well-appointed cabins in each also are identical to their non-hybrid counterparts in feature details, available options and, impressively, room for people and their stuff.

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As for the price of entry, going the Hybrid route is expected to add about $3,000 to the bottom line of any Pathfinder variant. Nissan North America, Inc. Vice President, Product Planning Pierre Loing noted that relatively modest figure was the result of carefully matching various elements in this easily scalable system to the specific Pathfinder application and then minimizing the number of other changes to the platform. The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is due in dealers starting in late summer. While we've not yet driven this newest member of Nissan's hybrid set, based on our experience in the 2013 Pathfinder V6 it should prove a very welcome addition to the lineup.


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