Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - January 31, 2023
2023 Toyota Highlander

Midsize SUVs like the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander are some of the most popular vehicles on the market today. Over the years, both of these nameplates have changed from being a rugged SUV for the Pathfinder and a tall minivan for the Highlander to family-friendly SUVs. With both SUVs competing in the hotly contested midsize SUV segment, it can be hard to choose between the two.

In this comparison, we’ll take a look at how the Pathfinder and Highlander differ from one another when it comes to pricing, size, fuel economy, cargo capacity, and reliability to name a winner. If you’re looking for a midsize SUV for the entire family, we can help you make a decision on which model is the better choice.

Pathfinder vs. Highlander Price

2023 Nissan Pathfinder

Shoppers on a budget will find the Nissan Pathfinder to be a better choice. The cheapest Nissan Pathfinder costs $36,295 (including destination), while the most affordable Toyota Highlander costs $37,755. Consumers that go with the Pathfinder can save $1,460 over the Highlander.

At the top of the range, the Pathfinder continues to be more affordable than the Highlander. The most expensive Pathfinder is the Platinum trim at $51,165 and the most expensive Highlander is also the Platinum which costs $52,360. The difference between the range-topping trims is a substantial $1,195 difference in the Pathfinder’s favor.

Consumers will find better Nissan Pathfinder lease deals than the ones that are available with the Toyota Highlander. Nissan’s lease deals tend to be better value for the money when you consider the Pathfinder’s starting price tag, too. Shoppers looking to purchase a Pathfinder will find that the automaker tends to offer more cash rebate deals than Toyota does with the Highlander.

Pathfinder vs. Highlander Size

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Interior

While both the Pathfinder and Highlander are part of the midsize SUV segment, they’re different in size. The Pathfinder is roughly two inches longer, three inches wider, and two inches taller than the Highlander. With its larger size, the Pathfinder offers roughly four extra cubic feet of cargo space over the Highlander.

Because of the Pathfinder’s larger size, the SUV offers more front and rear headroom, front legroom, front and rear shoulder room, and front hip room. While the Pathfinder has more overall space than the Highlander, the latter features three extra inches of second-row legroom, which is a massive difference.

Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander Gas Mileage

2023 Toyota Highlander

The Nissan Pathfinder continues to come with a burly 3.5-liter V6 engine. The motor is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and can route power to the front wheels or to all four. The most efficient Pathfinder is rated to get up to 23 mpg combined.

The Toyota Highlander comes with a standard turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. The base powertrain is rated at up to 25 mpg combined, besting the Pathfinder by 2 mpg.

Toyota offers the Highlander in an efficient hybrid model that comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The hybrid comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission. With FWD, the Highlander Hybrid can get up to 36 mpg combined, making it the obvious choice for shoppers looking to save money on fuel.

Pathfinder vs. Highlander Cargo Space

2022 Toyota Highlander Interior

Despite having a larger body, the Pathfinder trails the Highlander when it comes to cargo space. The Pathfinder has 16.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 45 cubic feet of space behind the second row, and a total of 80.5 cubic feet of space with the two rear rows of seats folded. These figures are average for the segment.

The Highlander offers slightly more cargo capacity than the Pathfinder. With the rear seats in place, the Highlander has 16 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding the third row down opens cargo capacity up to 48.4 cubic feet of space and folding the second-row results in a total of 84.3 cubic feet of space.

Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander Reliability

2023 Toyota Highlander

Based on Consumer Reports data, the Nissan Pathfinder is less reliable than the Toyota Highlander. In the organization’s testing, the Pathfinder finished in 15th place in its ranking of midsize three-row SUVs with a predicted reliability rating of one out of five and a predicted owner satisfaction score of three out of five.

The 2023 Highlander finished in third place in Consumer Reports' ranking. It earned a score of four out of five for predicted reliability and a predicted owner satisfaction score of four out of five.

Which Is Better: Pathfinder vs. Highlander?

For shoppers that don’t need the most spacious three-row midsize SUV and have some room in the budget to spare, the Toyota Highlander is the better option of the two. It delivers more second-row legroom, more cargo capacity, and better fuel economy figures than the Nissan Pathfinder. The Highlander may be more reliable than the Pathfinder, too.

While the Pathfinder loses this comparison, it’s still a good midsize SUV. It has a roomy interior with spacious seats, a punchy standard V6 engine, balanced handling, and a long list of standard features. With its lower starting price tag, the Pathfinder also represents better value than the Highlander.

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

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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