The Honda Pilot has long been a favorite for three-row SUV shoppers, offering multi-passenger safety, comfort, cargo and convenience, all while remaining affordable and fuel-efficient. But the current-generation Pilot is getting on in years, having debuted for the 2016 model year, and that’s left the door open for some competitors.
Among them is the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. Redesigned from the ground up, the Pathfinder is going for a more premium image outside and in. So which SUV is the better buy? Edmunds’ experts compared them to find out.
COMFORT AND VERSATILITY
The Honda Pilot swallows people and gear while delivering on-road composure during just about any length of travel. Though cargo space isn’t segment-leading, small-item storage is innovative. Excellent headroom and legroom in the first two rows can accommodate larger family members, while single-button access to the third row allows kids to move in and out without fuss. Car seat installation is a breeze, and a quiet cabin and compliant suspension help to keep the whole family happy.
The redesigned Pathfinder grows marginally more spacious, putting it on par with the Pilot for total cargo volume. A tilting second row allows access to the third row even while a car seat is installed, though this scenario narrows the passage to the back. Passengers in the first two rows can stretch out, leaving plenty of room for kids in the third. Ride comfort is agreeable, though certain road surfaces can unsettle the Pathfinder and its flat, firm seats are less than luxurious. Comfort and versatility improve with the latest-generation Pathfinder, but in both categories, the Pilot maintains its lead.
SAFETY AND TECHNOLOGY
Passive safety in the Pilot is excellent, with top ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in most categories. Advanced driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist need greater precision and less sensitivity. The Pilot’s touchscreen infotainment system is intuitive and responsive, but it doesn’t introduce any cutting-edge features. Passengers in the front two rows will find sufficient outlets to charge devices. Meanwhile, third-row passengers might be wanting for a spare port — unlike in the Pathfinder.
The Pathfinder scores even higher in IIHS crash safety testing and offers a more sophisticated adaptive cruise control system. A large, captivating digital gauge cluster makes the Pilot’s smaller display seem dull. Wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration trumps the Pilot’s wired-only connections, and a wireless charging pad sweetens the deal. The infotainment is responsive, though the interface appears dated. But on the whole the Pathfinder has the edge.
ENGINES AND FUEL ECONOMY
Honda equips the Pilot with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces a healthy 280 horsepower. Our test vehicle made the dash to 60 mph in 7 seconds, which is quicker than most three-row SUVs. All-wheel-drive versions return an EPA-estimated 22 combined mpg, and Edmunds’ test vehicle posted 25.2 mpg along a standardized real-world evaluation route.
Nissan fits its own 3.5-liter V6 under the Pathfinder’s hood. It has fractionally more power at its disposal — 284 horsepower — but lagged slightly behind the Pilot in its 7.4-second sprint to 60 mph. The EPA estimates an all-wheel-drive Pathfinder at 23 combined mpg, though its real-world testing result was a less promising 22.2 mpg. There are some slight differences here, but not enough for either SUV to take the category.
VALUE AND WARRANTY
In anticipation of a new-generation Pilot for the 2023 model year, Honda has nixed its two entry-level trims, leaving the $38,055 Sport trim to start. Though priced above its main competitors, the Pilot Sport is bundled with attractive standard features and high-quality materials that should age well. A basic three-year/36,000-mile warranty is standard for the segment, alongside three years of roadside assistance.
In base S trim, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder stickers for $34,585. Standard feature highlights include blind-spot monitoring and a tri-zone climate control, though the Pilot Sport offers appreciably more for its premium. Build quality improves with this new model and the cabin layout is handsome, though Honda’s three-row delivers a stronger impression of durability. Nissan matches the Pathfinder with the same three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and three years of roadside assistance.
It’s a close match in this category. The 2022 Pilot is a bigger financial commitment but a stronger value proposition.
The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is better than ever, with a more thoughtful cabin design and improved technology. But the seasoned 2022 Honda Pilot maintains its standing as the more well-rounded three-row SUV.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.
Miles Branman is a contributor at Edmunds. Follow Miles on Twitter