For an extra $3,000, customers get up to an extra five miles per gallon.

Previously exclusive to China, Nissan has stealthily introduced the hybrid Murano (not pictured above) to the American market. It's rare for automakers to launch a new product without so much as a press release, but the move makes a little sense here. According to Car and Driver, Nissan only intends to sell 600 of these greener crossovers in the U.S. this year.

The Murano Hybrid packs a supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor that makes a total of 249 horsepower. Depending the model buyers choose, a CVT can route power either to the front wheels or through an all-wheel drive system. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the front-wheel-drive version at 29 miles per gallon combined fuel economy, and the ability to spin both axles knocks that down to 28 mpg. In comparison, the 260-hp 3.5-liter V6 in the Murano carries combined ratings of 24 mpg regardless of its drivetrain.

Nissan offers the hybrid on either the SL or Platinum trims for $40,950 or $43,000 respectively (after $900 destination). That is $3,000 more than the corresponding internal combustion models. Other than small “Hybrid” badges on the hatchback and front door, the vehicles are aesthetically identical. The greener version receives some tiny technical tweaks, including the addition of an Eco driving mode, stop-start, and an electric power gauge.

Nissan has been removing hybrid crossovers from its range, rather than adding them. For example, the company killed the Pathfinder Hybrid in the U.S. last year and reduced the QX60 Hybrid down to limited quantities. It's dipping a toe back into the segment with this small-volume introduction.

Source: Car and DriverNissan via Autoblog

Be part of something big