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Preview: Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Green machine has some advantages, but are they worth it?

What price is your conscience? Is it $4,000?

That’s the extra cost of the just-released Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, compared to the nonhybrid Pathfinder. Is it worth it?

It really does come down to simple math because the two vehicles are intentionally very similar. They’re both large, comfortable and capable seven-seater SUVs in the same level of trim.

A base Pathfinder lists at $30,000, but the upgraded Pathfinder SV 4WD costs $35,248, while the hybrid version in the same trim ? the cheapest way it’s available ? costs exactly $4,000 more.

A fully loaded platinum edition is also available as a hybrid. It costs $45,198 for the conventional engine, and $4,000 more for the hybrid option.

The two engines are about the same power and torque: 260 hp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque for the 3.5-L V6, compared to 250 hp and 243 lb.-ft. for the 2.5-L hybrid, once you add in the extra strength of its 20-hp electric motor.

If it wasn’t for the badges, you’d never be able to tell which Pathfinder you’re driving.

The engine does not shut off when idling, but rather, the electric motor compensates for the gas engine’s smaller size, allowing it to have a more economical motor for the same amount of power.

The only real differences are that the hybrid has a tow-weight rating of 3,500 lb. (1,588 kg) compared to the 5,000 lb. (2,268 kg) of the conventional SUV. On the plus side, its 1,000-km range is about 22-per-cent greater because it uses less gas but keeps the same sized tank.

So it’s down to fuel use and money. The hybrid returns a claimed 7.4 L/100 km in combined use (or 7.8 city and 7.1 hwy.), while the regular 4WD Pathfinder returns a claimed 9.5 combined.

That’s roughly two extra litres of gas for every 100 km driven, which at today’s prices is about $2.50. At that rate, you’ll need to drive about 160,000 km to save $4,000, and that doesn’t account for the capital cost of the upfront payment and the rising price of fuel.

In other words, aside from being more complicated and not really cutting down emissions, the hybrid is pretty much the same in every way but will probably take at least five years and maybe much longer to start paying for itself.

Is that worth it? You be the judge.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Price: $39,248 to $49,198

Engine: 2.5 L I4, plus 15 kW electric motor

Power/Torque: 250 hp/243 lb.-ft.

Fuel Consumption L/100 km: 7.8 city, 7.1 hwy.

Competition: Nissan Pathfinder SV

What’s Best: Frugal with fuel, comfortable, just like a regular SUV

What’s Worst: Additional cost, less towing capacity, more to go wrong.

What’s Interesting: One of its seven colours is Cayenne Red

  • Preview: Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Subject: Wheels story on Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid by Mark Richardson for Norris McDonald 2 of 4 On 2013-11-12, at 12:34 PM, Toronto Star, Wheels wrote: Nissan Pathfinder IMG_7798.JPG
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