If you want a rare car, forget the Bentley or Lamborghini and try to find yourself a 2016 Nissan Murano Hybrid. Nissan is quietly introducing a hybrid version of its fashion-conscious crossover in the U.S., but will only import about 600 units, according to Car and Driver. Granted, there probably won’t be much demand for the Murano Hybrid given that Nissan isn’t exactly going out of its way to promote it.
Nissan seems to be following the same strategy it did with the equally low-key Pathfinder Hybrid, which lasted just two model years. The Murano Hybrid actually uses the same powertrain as the Pathfinder, which makes sense as the two models share a platform. A 2.5-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) work with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
Total system output is 250 horsepower, which is the same as the defunct Pathfinder Hybrid and 10 hp less than what you get from the non-hybrid Murano’s 3.5-liter V6. With front-wheel drive, the hybrid gets an EPA-rated 29 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 31 mpg highway), compared to 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) for the V6. All-wheel drive models get 28 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 30 mpg highway) and 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway) with the hybrid and V6 powertrains, respectively.
That bump in fuel economy comes with a price bump as well. The hybrid powertrain is only available on the higher-level SL and Platinum models, and there’s a $3,000 premium compared to non-hybrid versions of those models. That doesn’t make the Murano Hybrid very compelling from a value standpoint but with only 600 units to move, it’s not like Nissan needed to make this green SUV appealing to a wide audience.
As with the previous Pathfinder Hybrid, the Murano Hybrid is distinguished from other Murano models only by discreet exterior badging. For the short time that it’s on sale, the Murano will be the only hybrid model in Nissan’s U.S. lineup. The carmaker’s Infiniti luxury division still offers hybrid versions of the Q50, Q70, and QX60, though.
Given its limited production run, the 2016 Nissan Murano Hybrid’s impact on the market will probably be as discreet as its powertrain operating in near-silent electric mode. Nissan’s primary focus continues to be electric cars; its Leaf remains the bestselling electric car in history, and is due for a full redesign.