Not the same Pathfinder we once knew. In 2013, the Nissan Pathfinder went through a huge transformation, converting from a blocky and rugged body-on-frame SUV to a soft crossover.
Since then, this seven-seat crossover hasn’t been through many changes, leaving the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder feeling a little dated in this quick-changing segment.
Plenty of ride comfort, but a rough powertrain. Under its skin, the Nissan Pathfinder is all crossover with its unibody platform that includes four-wheel independent suspension.
This sedan-inspired chassis boasts struts up front and a multi-link setup out back that adds up to a soft and compliant ride, even with its optional 20-inch wheels. With this soft ride comes a little bit of lean in the corners, but are you really all that focused on carving up corners in a three-row family hauler?
Powering the Pathfinder is Nissan’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers a respectable 284 horsepower. With models like the Ford Explorer pumping out up to 400 hp, this isn’t enough to power to put the Pathfinder at the top of its class in acceleration.
It does, however, provide the pop it needs to tow up to 6,000 pounds, which beats the Explorer (5,600 pounds), Honda Pilot (5,000 pounds), and Subaru Ascent (5,000 pounds).
Where this powertrain falls short is it's very unrefined relative to some of the more modern engines available today. Add to that a continuously variable transmission, and it can get quite noisy when accelerating or heading up a steep grade.
The comfort continues inside. The Nissan Pathfinder avoids taking any risks in terms of interior design, but it delivers in comfort, especially in the first and second rows.
The third row isn't necessarily uncomfortable, but it offers just 30 inches of leg room and is hard to access. Buyers seeking a more useful third row will find 33 inches of leg room in the Chevrolet Traverse and 32 inches in the Pilot.
Cargo also rides in relative comfort with up to 16 cubic feet with all three seats upright and over 47 cubes with the third row folded. This falls in line with the Pilot, Explorer, and Ascent but falls short of the relatively cavernous Traverse’s 23 cubic feet with all three rows up and 57.8 cubes with the seats folded.
Good safety tech, but where’s the fun stuff? Despite getting up there in age, the Nissan Pathfinder has plenty of advanced safety tech. Standard features include automatic emergency braking, while buyers get blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alert on SV and higher trims.
If you want more standard safety gear, you’ll find this in the Explorer and Pilot. The Ford includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Honda treats buyers to standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping assist.
Inside, the Pathfinder impresses with a standard 8-inch touchscreen and six USB ports, but it lacks available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These smartphone integrations are standard on most competitors, including the Traverse, Explorer, Ascent, and Hyundai Palisade. Only the Pilot misses the mark here, but they are standard on EX and higher trims.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder may not be the rugged model we remember, but it has converted itself into a capable and comfortable family hauler. In a class that tends to fall short in towing, this Nissan is a shining star with a 6,000-pound capacity.
It shows some age with its lack of desirable and common tech features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If these are must-haves, you can waltz into any competitor's showroom and find them – often as standard equipment.
Check prices for the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder»