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2020 Nissan Pathfinder Review

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder ranks in the bottom half of the competitive midsize SUV class. The Pathfinder has a peppy V6 engine, good fuel economy, and roomy seating space, but it’s let down by a firm ride quality and an outdated interior.

Pros & Cons

  • Punchy V6 engine
  • Roomy interior
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Firm ride quality
  • Dated features and cabin styling

7.5

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.3
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 6.9
Safety: 9.2
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Nissan Pathfinder a Good SUV?

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is a good midsize SUV with a spacious cabin and seating for seven. It boasts a strong, relatively fuel-efficient V6 engine and a nice array of standard safety features, like forward collision warning with brake assist. The Pathfinder is also a surprisingly good workhorse. It has a large cargo area and a hefty 6,000-pound towing capacity.

That said, the Pathfinder just doesn’t feel as well-rounded as its rivals. Its interior styling is outdated, as are its infotainment features: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t even offered. Additionally, its ride quality tends to be jittery on rough pavement.

Should I Buy the Nissan Pathfinder?

You should look elsewhere in this segment before considering the Pathfinder. You'll find many options that are better. For instance, both the highly rated Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander offer ritzier interiors, seating for up to eight, a smoother ride, and more standard safety features. Both also have starting prices within a few hundred dollars of the Pathfinder.

Compare the Pathfinder, Telluride, and Highlander »

Should I Buy a New or Used Nissan Pathfinder?

Nissan launched this generation of the Pathfinder for the 2013 model year, and there have been a few important updates since. A hybrid model was offered only for 2014. For 2015, the SUV’s transmission software was updated. The 2017 Pathfinder was restyled and gained a stronger V6 engine, an updated infotainment system, and available safety features like forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control. For 2018, this forward collision warning system became standard equipment. The 2019 and 2020 models have seen relatively few changes.

We suggest going with a 2017-or-newer Pathfinder to get the extra tech features, safety systems, and engine power. Of those, the 2017 and 2018 models are apt to be the least expensive.

Be sure to read our 2017 Pathfinder, 2018 Pathfinder, and 2019 Pathfinder reviews to help make your decision. You can also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Nissan Pathfinder »

We Did the Research for You: 57 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 57 Nissan Pathfinder reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible. This Pathfinder review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2013.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Nissan Pathfinder Cost?

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder has a base MSRP of $31,680, which is about average for a three-row midsize SUV. The price climbs north of $42,000 for the fully loaded Pathfinder Platinum model. Less expensive options in the Nissan SUV lineup include the Kicks ($18,640), Rogue Sport ($22,340), Rogue ($25,200), and Murano ($31,530).

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

Nissan Pathfinder Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Nissan Pathfinder or Honda Pilot?

The Honda Pilot is a close match for the Pathfinder in a number of areas. Both midsize SUVs are similarly priced, and both offer comparable cargo space, engine power, and fuel economy. The Pathfinder is rated to tow 1,000 pounds more than the Pilot. In most other areas though, the Pilot comes out on top. The Honda has a smoother ride, more standard safety features, and seating for up to eight. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Go with the Pilot.

Which Is Better: Nissan Pathfinder or Ford Explorer?

The fully redesigned Ford Explorer isn’t perfect, but it is an option you should consider. The Explorer offers the latest in tech and infotainment features, and it boasts a longer list of standard safety equipment than the Pathfinder does, including blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist. The Ford is available with brawnier engine options and an efficient hybrid powertrain. It also rides more comfortably than the Pathfinder, though it still feels composed and agile around turns.

Compare the Pathfinder, Pilot, and Explorer »

Pathfinder Interior

How Many People Does the Pathfinder Seat?

The 2020 Pathfinder is a three-row SUV with seven seats. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and they provide ample headroom and legroom, even for tall adults. The second row is similarly comfy and spacious. The third row, however, is stingy on legroom. While it’s roomy enough for adults on short drives around town, the Pathfinder’s third row is best suited for smaller kids and teens.

Cloth upholstery is standard. Leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel are available.

Pathfinder and Child Car Seats

The Pathfinder has two full sets of LATCH connectors for its second-row outboard seats. The second-row middle seat and third-row passenger-side seat each have a single tether anchor.

Pathfinder Interior Quality

The Pathfinder’s cabin is showing its age. The interior has changed little since the SUV’s last redesign in 2013, giving the Pathfinder an outdated appearance compared to newer rivals like the Kia Telluride. On the plus side, the cabin remains quiet at highway speeds, and many of its surfaces are soft to the touch.

Pathfinder Cargo Space

The Pathfinder has 16.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third-row seats, 47.4 cubic feet with those seats folded, and 79.5 cubic feet with the last two rows folded. That’s plenty of room for hauling bulky items, though it’s about average for a midsize SUV. A few competitors, like the Volkswagen Atlas and Chevrolet Traverse, offer considerably more space.

Pathfinder Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Every Pathfinder is equipped with an 8-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, six USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, HD Radio, satellite radio, a CD player, and tri-zone climate control.

The touch screen is user-friendly and responds quickly to inputs. You can control the infotainment system by tapping on the screen and by using the knob and buttons on the dashboard. This makes it easy to adjust the basic audio and climate functions on the go. That said, the screen’s graphics look fuzzy. Also, the system doesn’t support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which you can find in most competing vehicles in this class.

Available features include navigation, a 13-speaker Bose stereo, and two 8-inch monitors with headphones for back-seat passengers.

Read more about interior »

Pathfinder Performance

Pathfinder Engine: V6 or Bust

The 2020 Pathfinder has a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 284 horsepower. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive are standard. All-wheel drive is available.

This combination does a fine job of scooting the Pathfinder up to speed briskly, and it provides ample merging and passing power at highway speeds. The V6 feels energetic and punchy. The "Xtronic" CVT operates smoothly behind the scenes, which isn’t always the case with this type of transmission.

Pathfinder Gas Mileage: Among the Best in the Class

The Pathfinder gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. These ratings aren’t class-leading, but they are better than most. Check out the Mazda CX-9 if you’re aiming for better fuel economy.

Pathfinder Ride and Handling: Stable but Not Supple

The Pathfinder has decent driving dynamics. It feels stable when rounding turns, and its brakes provide strong stopping power. The available all-wheel-drive system enables good traction on slick and snow-covered roads. That said, the Pathfinder has a rather firm ride quality. Smaller bumps and dips in the road tend to jitter this SUV around, and rough roads can make it downright uncomfortable, especially in models with the available 20-inch wheels. Stick with the standard 18-inch wheels.

Despite its rugged name, the Pathfinder isn’t designed for off-road use. It has just 7 inches of ground clearance, and it lacks a transfer case with low-range gearing. If you do want to go off-roading, consider more capable alternatives like the midsize Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee or even the full-size Nissan Armada.

Pathfinder Towing Capacity

The Nissan Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds, when properly equipped. That’s quite good by class standards.

Read more about performance »

Pathfinder Reliability

Is the Nissan Pathfinder Reliable?

The 2020 Pathfinder has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Nissan Pathfinder Warranty

The Pathfinder is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Pathfinder Safety

Pathfinder Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Pathfinder an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The SUV earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet released crash test results for the 2020 Pathfinder.

Pathfinder Safety Features

The 2020 Pathfinder comes standard with a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. The SUV is also equipped with Nissan’s Rear Door Alert, a system that reminds you to check the back seat (for children or pets, for example) before exiting.

Available safety features includes blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a surround-view parking camera system, and adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Pathfinder Dimensions and Weight

The Pathfinder is 16.5 feet long, and its curb weight ranges from 4,287 to 4,659 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder Built?

Nissan builds the 2020 Pathfinder in Tennessee.

Which Nissan Pathfinder Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. All trims have seven seats and come standard with a V6 engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional for $1,690.

The midrange Pathfinder SV is a good starting point. It adds a few popular safety features – like blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control – that aren’t available in the base trim.

Nissan Pathfinder S

The base model Nissan Pathfinder S has an MSRP of $31,680. Standard features include an 8-inch touch screen, HD Radio, satellite radio, a CD player, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, six USB ports, remote keyless entry, push-button start, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Nissan Pathfinder SV

The Pathfinder SV has an MSRP of $34,470. This trim adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, fog lights, proximity keyless entry, remote start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.

You can add a Rock Creek Edition package for $995 that includes synthetic leather upholstery, black exterior accents, and a tow hitch. The Technology package ($980) adds a navigation system, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated side mirrors.

Nissan Pathfinder SL

The uplevel Pathfinder SL has an MSRP of $38,090. This trim adds navigation, a surround-view parking camera system, genuine leather upholstery, heated first- and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, a hands-free power liftgate, and LED headlights.

The Rock Creek Edition package is optional for $995. The Premium package ($2,110) adds a 13-speaker Bose stereo and a panoramic moonroof.

Nissan Pathfinder Platinum

The luxe Pathfinder Platinum has an MSRP of $42,920. This trim makes the contents of the Premium package standard along with ventilated front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a tow hitch. A rear-seat entertainment system is optional for $1,700.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Nissan dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Nissan deals page.

See 2020 Nissan Pathfinder specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Nissan Pathfinder is a practical midsize SUV, but that isn’t enough to stand out in this crowded and fiercely competitive segment. Many of its rivals have higher-quality interiors, more comfortable rides, and more-advanced tech features. Some even have more seating and cargo space. Keep the Pathfinder on your shopping list, but consider other options first.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • “Stylistically, the 2020 Pathfinder leans to the more progressive, if not a bit sterile, with lots of curving lines and a dynamic front end that's somewhat reminiscent of sedans such as the Nissan Maxima and the Nissan Altima. Inside, the Pathfinder's comfortable seats and tastefully reserved dashboard should offend few, while clever features, such as the rear door alert, help remind drivers to check the rear seat before walking away from the vehicle." -- Autotrader
  • "… the 2019 Pathfinder manages to be a solid jack-of-all-trades vehicle. It provides plenty of capability and passenger room along with an easy-driving demeanor. It's worth a look for shoppers wanting an unassuming three-row crossover SUV with good towing capacity." -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "Though improved, the new Pathfinder still ranks as entirely average. In a marketplace where the stylish and fun-to-drive Mazda CX-9 rules the dynamic roost, and where the roomy and versatile Honda Pilot can handle just about any suburban task, there's no excuse for Nissan's seemingly half-hearted approach to creating 3-row family transportation." -- New York Daily News (2017)
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2020 Nissan Pathfinder

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