Honda Pilot vs Nissan Pathfinder: 2024 Comparison

The 2024 Honda Pilot is one of the most popular and well-rounded three-row family SUVs on the market. It has clever storage and unique second-row functionality, and after a full redesign a few years ago, no longer screams “child transport!” The 2024 Nissan Pathfinder seems to be often forgotten when discussing three-row crossovers, largely because its own predecessor was an even more depressing appliance. That’s a shame, because the Pathfinder is a well-rounded family SUV itself, and we really dig the cool, go-anywhere vibe of its Rock Creek edition.

As you’ll see below, Nissan also manages to net quite a few victories in our various categories. Now, choosing a car is more complicated than tabulating points like a basketball game. Some categories are inherently weighted more than others, so one particular win is bound to be a much bigger deal for you and your family’s needs.

Read our full 2024 Honda Pilot Review

Read our full 2024 Nissan Pathfinder Review

2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek 19

Which has a nicer interior?

Winner: Pathfinder

This is a close one, and for many it might be a coin flip. We ultimately like the Pathfinder’s look and materials better. There’s padded simulated leather on the dash and across the center console, and two-tone color schemes or contrast stitching on upper trim levels. In short, it looks and feels “nicer.” We still like the Pilot, though, and there’s something to be said for its minimalist aesthetic and slightly more useful storage up front.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport center console controls2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum center console

Which has better infotainment technology?

Winner: Pathfinder

Both the Pathfinder and Pilot’s top-end touchscreen measures 9 inches, but the base Nissan system is 8 inches versus 7 inches in the Pilot. Moreover, we prefer Nissan’s crisper and more colorful graphics – especially with the smaller screen. Both are similarly user friendly.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport touchscreen12022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum touchscreen home screen

Which is safer?

Winner: Tie

Both the Pathfinder and Pilot were given the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Pilot got a “Good” rating for its headlights, while the Pathfinder got an “Acceptable” rating. Both received the same marks for their accident prevention tech. We prefer the Pathfinder’s ProPilot Assist adaptive cruise control and steering assist system to the comparable feature in the Pilot.

Which has the bigger back seat?

Winner: Pilot

The Pilot has a more comfortable and spacious third row than the Pathinder’s, which is closer to the floor. The Pathfinder’s tilting-and-sliding second-row makes it easier to get back there from outside, however. Space in the second row is comparable, but the Pilot offers something the Pathfinder and nothing else in the segment does: a second-row middle seat that can be removed (admittedly with some back-bending effort) and stored under the cargo floor. Or in the garage if you want to maintain max cargo space. This means you don’t have to choose between seven- or eight passenger capacity at the dealership, or rather, middle bench or captain’s chairs. You do with the Pathfinder. Note, however, that the desirable Pilot TrailSport does not have this feature.

2023 Honda Pilot Elite middle seat in place2023 Honda Pilot Elite middle seat in cargo area2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum second row2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek 27

Pilot top, Pathfinder bottom

Which has more cargo capacity and functionality

Winner: Pilot

In our luggage testing, we could fit five suitcases in the Pilot versus four in the Pathfinder with a small duffel bag squished into the underfloor storage compartment. This would be consistent with their official cargo volumes of 18.6 cubic-feet and 16.6 cubic-feet behind the third row. The Pilot also has an underfloor compartment, but it’s bigger, more functional and we prefer its removable floor panel (with carpeted and washable plastic sides) to the hinged, door-like floor of the Pathfinder. The Pilot also has more maximum cargo capacity: 87 cubic-feet versus 80.5.

max bags12022 Nissan Pathfinder cargo with bags behind third row1

Which gets better fuel economy?

Winner: Pathfinder

The Pathfinder gets 23 mpg combined in all front-wheel-drive models as well as the S, SV and SL trims with all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive Platinum gets 22 mpg combined, while the Rock Creek gets 21 mpg combined due to its extra power, all-terrain tires and less aerodynamic roof rack.

The front-wheel-drive Pilot returns 22 mpg combined, while most trims get 21 mpg with all-wheel drive. The TrailSport is lower at 20 mpg combined.

Which is more powerful?

Winner: Pathfinder

Both Nissan and Honda offer only one engine in their three-row family haulers, with no hybrid or performance options available. Their specs are also awfully similar.

The Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 good for 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It has a 10-speed automatic. The Pathfinder also has a 3.5-liter V6, and it produces 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet in most versions. The Rock Creek produces 295 hp and 270 lb-ft. A nine-speed automatic is standard, but we wouldn’t read anything into gear count. The Pathfinder can tow 6,000 pounds versus 5,000 in the Pilot, which seems like a tiebreaker if there ever was one.

40 2023 Honda Pilot EliteMY22 Nissan Pathfinder MMP 20

Which is better to drive?

Winner: Pilot

The Pilot has more precise steering than most family haulers, its ride is composed and comfortable, and its torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system improves dry-pavement handling in addition to being beneficial in poor traction conditions and off pavement. Transmission and throttle programming can be too lackadaisical on hilly stretches of highway, though, necessitating the engagement of Sport mode (which you really shouldn’t have to do). We haven’t tested the Pathfinder in such a way to know if its nine-speed would be superior in this arena. We do know that the Pathfinder’s steering response and effort never feels quite right – it’s a tad too slow given the amount of effort. The Platinum’s 20-inch wheels also produce an unusual ride that combines a firm response to harsher impacts with a relaxed response to large bumps and undulations.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport in Bend front three quarter2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek L 5

Are there versions that stand out more than others?

Winner: Pathfinder

Both the Pilot and Pathfinder are at their most desirable when done up for outdoor adventures. The Pilot TrailSport impressed during a 2,000-mile family road trip from Southern California to Central Oregon, as we took advantage of its included trailer hitch, raised roof rails, all-terrain tires and extra ground clearance. It also turned heads with its special Diffused Sky Blue paint job. The Pathfinder Rock Creek looks even cooler, though, with its full rack atop a black contrasting roof, all-terrain tires wrapped around very-cool silver-ringed black rims, rugged grille and bumper, and special Baja Storm paint option. True, it has less ground clearance (7.7 inches versus 8.3) and its all-wheel-drive system is less sophisticated, so it probably won’t be as good off-roading. But if you’re mostly looking for a cool-looking gear hauler that can handle a dirt road, it seems like a better way to go. It’s $5,000 cheaper, too.

When was the last time they were redesigned?

Winner: Pilot

The Pilot was last redesigned for 2023 and received no updates for 2024. The Pathfinder was introduced for 2022 and it too was unchanged for 2024. In this case, one year really doesn’t matter.

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