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Hybrid SUV Competition Heats Up with Debut of 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid

Liz Opsitnik/U.S. News and World Report

Last Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), Nissan announced their first hybrid SUV, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid. Nissan said the seven-passenger hybrid will go on sale in late summer.

Nissan said at their press conference on Wednesday that the Pathfinder Hybrid will feature a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. It will cost about $3,000 more than the standard V6 engine model, which has a current starting price of $28,650. At the press conference, Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said the Pathfinder Hybrid will get 26 combined mpg.

Motor Trend writes, “Visually, the hybrid model’s only distinguishing features from a standard Pathfinder are special LED taillights and new Puredrive Hybrid badging. Inside, the in-cluster display receives special hybrid info screens.”

According to MSN Autos, Nissan has been investing in electronic models, like the LEAF, but is a relative newcomer to hybrids. MSN Autos also writes, “By introducing hybrid technology into the popular and fast-growing midsize crossover segment, Nissan is maximizing its reach. An aggressive pricing strategy to make the typically expensive technology more affordable will only increase its appeal.”

Other hybrid SUVs that debuted at the NYIAS include the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid and 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid. USA Today says the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is expected to get 28 combined mpg, and it will cost somewhere between $41,000 and $47,000. Other hybrid SUVs currently on the market include the 2013 Lexus RX Hybrid, 2013 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, 2013 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and the 2013 GMC Yukon Hybrid.

In an interview with The Detroit News, Kelley Blue Book’s senior analyst Alec Gutierrez says that hybrids still have some problems to overcome. For one, they have to compete with fuel-efficient gas-only vehicles that cost less. “We are seeing a lot of new offerings and announcements, but we really haven’t seen market share move over the last five years,” Gutierrez said.

However, The Detroit News reports that automakers think “… adding hybrid systems to SUVs and bigger cars makes sense because they do mean efficiency improvements for those larger models. Automakers have reduced the premium that buyers pay for hybrids, in order to boost sales.” The Detroit News also says that by the end of 2015, Toyota is estimating that they will have 10 hybrids on sale in the U.S., and Nissan will have four or five hybrids in the U.S.

In the market for a new hybrid SUV? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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