Nissan's midsize crossover utility vehicle is finding a path into a new market segment.

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid--Nissan's first production hybrid SUV--will start at $35,970, including destination.

That sticker price buys a base 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid SV with front-wheel drive. There is also a mid-range SL model that starts at $38,910, and an upscale Platinum model, with a starting sticker price of $43,610.

The Pathfinder Hybrid is also available with all-wheel drive, which brings the starting prices of the SV, SL, and Platinum to $37,570, $40,510, and $45,210, respectively.

Buyers may find the choices refreshing. The Pathfinder Hybrid is one of the few hybrid crossovers to be offered with both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, and a choice of trim levels.

With the exception of the Toyota Prius, many manufacturers only offer hybrids in upscale trim levels, increasing the premium customers must pay for better mpg.

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

The Pathfinder Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 15-kilowatt electric motor sandwiched between the engine and a continuously-variable transmission (CVT), with a clutch on either end.

A lithium-ion battery pack is stowed under the third-row seat, meaning there's no compromise to load space in the hybrid version compared to the standard car.

Combined system output is 250 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque, compared to 260 hp and 240 lb-ft for a non-hybrid Pathfinder equipped with the standard 3.5-liter V-6.

Nissan estimates the Pathfinder Hybrid's fuel economy at 26 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 28 mpg highway). All-wheel drive models lose 1 mpg highway.

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid is on sale now.


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