Nissan Pathfinder vs. Ford Explorer

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - February 2, 2016

They were once based on rugged pickup trucks, but now the Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer get their DNA from a passenger car. Although they're officially crossovers, both have retained much of their original capability while adding decent efficiency and manueverability to the mix.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Pathfinder & Explorer »

Given their revised roles in the marketplace, which is better positioned to assume family-hauling duties?

Why We Like the Pathfinder

The Pathfinder lost 500 pounds in its transition to a crossover, but it's hard to tell where it went. The interior seats seven adults in impressive comfort, though its third row is a little cramped for some adults. With the seats neatly folded, there's 79.8 cubic feet of cargo space. The Pathfinder's 5,000-pound towing capacity isn't too far below the old model's.

What buyers gain in everyday driveability is significant. The Pathfinder handles easily and cruises with the smoothness and quietness of a large sedan. The 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 takes it from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds and delivers 22 mpg in combined driving, or 21 mpg with all-wheel drive, terrific efficiency for a seven-passenger vehicle. The interior is especially well-constructed and quite attractive, especially in top Platinum trim.

Why We Like the Explorer

The Ford impresses us most with its highly refined, technology-laden interior for seven. The upscale finishes feel both luxurious and durable, and noise levels are soothingly low. Adding to the allure are features such the Sync voice-command system, the MyFord Touch electronic interface, and second-row seat belt airbags. The Explorer also offers adaptive control control with collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and active parking assist. What's more, the Explorer can haul more cargo than the Pathfinder.

The standard 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 provides commendable overall performance, although buyers can choose a 280-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder for increased fuel efficiency with a minimal drop in output. There's also a new Sport model that carries a potent turbo V6 with 365 horsepower in addition to a firmer suspension and more aggressive trim. Notably, the Explorer's available all-wheel drive system allows drivers to select one of four road conditions for optimal traction.

The Best of Both

Both crossovers have a pleasant, car-like demeanor that should play well with most families. The Pathfinder gets the nod for efficiency, while the Explorer scores on overall sophistication.

Our Verdict: Ford Explorer

The Explorer's high content and refined interior make it a standout in this class.

Take a closer look at the Nissan Pathfinder »

Take a closer look at the Ford Explorer »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website