OAK BROOK, IL – Nissan officials say a hybrid utility vehicle makes sense, but they stop short of any direct hints an electrified powertrain could be down the road for the new Pathfinder.

The ’13 model Pathfinder, shown to media here, is based on the same architecture as the new ’13 Altima sedan, slated to get a Nissan-developed hybrid powertrain at some point in its lifecycle. Also sharing the Altima platform is the Infiniti JX cross/utility vehicle.

“We're studying alternative power sources for the future, and while it would make sense to offer alternative power sources in trucks and SUVs more so than in small cars, we have no comment or announcement at this time," says Tom Smith, chief marketing manager-Nissan trucks and SUVs.

Ken Kcomt, director-product planning for Nissan trucks and SUVs, is equally evasive about a hybrid Pathfinder. He notes among Pathfinder's rivals, the Toyota Highlander is the only model that offers a hybrid, but points out the Honda Pilot is due for a redesign in 2014 (as is the Highlander). That makes a hybrid version a possibility for the next-generation CUV.

The Nissan Rogue is expected out in the fall of 2013 as a ’14 model. Smith also refuses to talk about specific plans for a hybrid version of that CUV. The Rogue is based on the smaller Sentra sedan platform.

Though the Pathfinder is built around a unibody architecture, Nissan plans to market the model as an SUV, not a CUV, a path other auto makers are following, including Ford with its latest Explorer.

“Consumers think crossover refers to smaller vehicles and means a compromise when it comes to towing and off-road capability, so we decided to avoid the crossover term,” Smith says in an interview prior to a presentation to the Midwest Automotive Media Assn. of the ’13 Pathfinder coming to U.S. dealers this fall.

“We've moved away from the (CUV) term for Pathfinder, even though people accept it in our Rogue because the Rogue is a smaller vehicle.”

Because it will be important to get people into the seat of the new version, Smith says Nissan will sponsor a variety of drive events this fall where consumers will be invited to a venue to get behind the wheel.

“We need to convince people how much better the new Pathfinder is than the old one.”

Nissan also will work more with lifestyle publications and use social media extensively to help launch the new model. The auto maker announced last week it is tying up with Chicago comedy troupe Second City to produce videos featuring the Pathfinder that will be posted to its Facebook page beginning today.