A NEW PATH: A drive for lower fuel bills has led to a hybrid variant for Nissan's large seven-seat Pathfinder SUV.
A NEW PATH: A drive for lower fuel bills has led to a hybrid variant for Nissan's large seven-seat Pathfinder SUV. Coventry Studios P/L

Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid ST road test

What matters most   

What we liked: Quiet and soft ride, seven seats, impressive boot space.   

What we'd like to see: Less body roll in the corners, smoother transition from battery to petrol power.   

Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty with servicing every six months or 7000km. Capped price servicing available over six-years/84,000km with an average price of $322.

 

EXAMPLES of modern motoring are no better than this large sports utility vehicle.  

Previous iterations of the Pathfinder were burly and rugged, but this new derivative is softer both in performance and ride quality.  

Drivers are clamouring for SUVs over wagons and this new Pathfinder is as suited to Burke Street as it is the bush. Launched last year, this Hybrid derivative was a late arrival.  

In base-model four-cylinder Hybrid guise it weighs in at $42,999: a $3000 premium over the petrol-powered 3.5-litre V6.  

HYBRID ROLLING: Backing up its 2.5-litre four-cylinder is a 15kW electric motor, together generating 188kW.
HYBRID ROLLING: Backing up its 2.5-litre four-cylinder is a 15kW electric motor, together generating 188kW. Coventry Studios P/L

Comfort

How's the serenity.  

Without a brawny diesel or V6 engine the Hybrid is one smooth operator.  

Especially noticeable is the quiet cabin which has a fancy system using technology similar to noise-cancelling headphones.  

Using a series of microphones and utilising the vehicle's sound system it manages to dampen undesirable noise.  

As expected in a big Nissan, wide and cushy seats provide a plush ride, while there are ample storage spots and cup holders throughout.  

Everything is fairly simple to find through the console, although phone pairing can be a little time-consuming.  

SERENE SPACE: Technology similar to noise-cancelling headphones used to dampen undesirable noise in the vast cabin
SERENE SPACE: Technology similar to noise-cancelling headphones used to dampen undesirable noise in the vast cabin Coventry Studios P/L

On the road

Despite not having a burly V6, the Hybrid motors along nicely.  

It's hardly going to win any quarter mile contests, but its power delivery is good enough for timely getaways from the lights.  

The Pathfinder's American origins are evident with softly sprung suspension making highway sojourns a pleasure, while the steering is effortlessly light.  

However, it does still feel like the big, burly wagon it is with a kerb weight of two tonnes.  

Our primary frustration came when cruising on the highway and the Pathfinder shifted between power modes.   When called to accelerate it felt like the vehicle lost all power, but then the four-cylinder kicked in to provide the power originally summonsed.   T

his took a little while to get used to, and when it first occurred there were concerns there was mechanical failure. 

What do you get?

On the complimentary items list are a 17cm colour screen, rear parking sensors and camera, tri-zone climate controlled air con, 18-inch alloys, cruise control and a six-speaker CD stereo with full Bluetooth connectivity. Safety is five-star with the full gamut of technical aids.   

Running costs

The hybrid system delivers fuel consumption savings of about 15% compared to a standard Pathfinder, and courtesy of a few highway trips we notched just under 10 litres for every 100km.  

That brings it more into modern expectations although you do need to weigh up the price premium - the $3000 extra you pay for the hybrid buys a fair bit of fuel.  

Hybrid servicing intervals are shorter: the non-Hybrid six-cylinder engine only requires maintenance every 10,000km yearly with an average price of $379, while this Hybrid needs a service every 7000km/six months at an average of $322.  

HYBRID SMARTS: Pathfinder Hybrid returns a quoted 8.4-litres/100km but costs $3000 more than 3.5-litre V6 version.
HYBRID SMARTS: Pathfinder Hybrid returns a quoted 8.4-litres/100km but costs $3000 more than 3.5-litre V6 version. Coventry Studios P/L

Practicality

With seven-seat capability and a massive boot the Pathfinder embraces domestic duties.  

Our test included a trip to the airport, where the whole family was aboard along with an adult's bike and four suitcases.  

The Pathfinder swallowed the lot with some room to spare.  

The two seats in the third row fold flat into the floor and take little effort to flip into place.  

Five adults will find there is reasonable lodgings in the front two rows, and while the more nimble can fit into the most rearward pews it is an area best left to the kids.   

Other options

While there are no other hybrids around this price-point, also worth a look are the Mazda CX-9 Classic ($43,770), Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo ($44,500), Kia Sorento ($38,990) and Hyundai Santa Fe Active ($38,490).  

Funky factor

Inoffensive and more in tune with soccer training than catwalk duties, the Pathfinder won't shock or have onlookers clamouring to have one.   

The lowdown

The Pathfinder's rthroughout the test duration. efined on-road manners and the hybrid's fuel consumption smarts impressed, and ensured it became an integral part of family duties.  

Gains in fuel consumption are essentially eroded by the price premium and higher servicing costs, but we appreciated the greenie technology, comfy ride and quiet operation.    

2015 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. Photo: Contributed
2015 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. Photo: Contributed Coventry Studios P/L

Vital statistics

Model: Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid ST.  

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder supercharged petrol engine bolstered by a 15kW electric motor with a 144-volt compact lithium-ion battery which together generate maximum power of 188kW @ 5600rpm and peak torque of 330Nm @ 3600rpm.

Transmission: Continuously variable (CVT) automatic.  

Consumption: 8.4 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 200g/km.

Towing: 1650kg.

Bottom line (before on-roads): $42,990.  


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