2018 Nissan Pathfinder

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MSRP: $31,040 - 44,260

2018 Nissan Pathfinder Review

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder finishes near the bottom of the midsize SUV class. Its intuitive features and powerful engine aren’t enough to offset its stiff ride and unimpressive predicted reliability score.

7.7

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.0
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Strong V6 engine
  • Intuitive infotainment features
  • Rough ride quality
  • Drab interior design

New for 2018

  • Automatic emergency braking now standard
  • New standard Rear Door Alert system
  • New Midnight Edition package (SL trim)

Is the Nissan Pathfinder a Good SUV?

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder is an OK midsize SUV. A potent V6 engine makes the Pathfinder a serviceable daily driver, but you probably won't enjoy the jarring ride and dull handling. Inside, the cabin looks rather plain, with lower-rent materials than what you’ll find in the competition. Also, many other midsize crossovers offer better seating accommodations and more cargo space.

Should I Buy the Nissan Pathfinder?

Buying the Pathfinder is not a great idea. It ranks low in the class, and its middle-of-the-pack price tag means it doesn't provide much value. Instead, you should consider rivals like the Chevy Traverse and Toyota Highlander, which are better all-around vehicles. Both also rate higher for predicted reliability.

Compare the Pathfinder, Traverse, and Highlander »

Should I Buy a New or Used Nissan Pathfinder?

The Pathfinder was last fully redesigned for the 2013 model year. There was a midcycle refresh for 2017 that included updated styling, a 24-horsepower increase for the lone engine, a higher towing capacity, and new standard features. Among these new features were a rearview camera and an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Changes are minor for 2018, though automatic emergency braking and a rear-seat alert system are now standard.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by shopping for a used Pathfinder instead of a new one, though be aware that older models may not have as many features. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Pathfinder and 2017 Pathfinder. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Pathfinder »
We Did the Research for You: 49 Pieces of Data Analyzed

We analyzed 49 Nissan Pathfinder reviews – along with safety ratings, reliability data, and more – to help you decide if the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder is the right car for you. This overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2013 through 2018 model years, which are all the years of the current generation.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our editorial team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our car reviews are unbiased, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Nissan Pathfinder Cost?

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder crossover starts at $31,040. This is right in the middle of the midsize SUV class, though its primary rivals have similar prices (the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse starts at $29,930, while the 2018 Toyota Highlander comes in at $31,030).

Three higher trim levels raise the price by a few thousand dollars, and there are option packages ranging from $400 to $2,650. You can also equip any trim with four-wheel drive for an additional $1,690. A fully loaded Pathfinder costs more than $46,000. For more information about the Nissan Pathfinder's standard and optional features, check out the “Which Nissan Pathfinder Model Is Right for Me?” section below.

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 Chevrolet Traverse?

On the heels of its 2018 redesign, the Chevrolet Traverse finishes high in the midsize SUV class rankings. This Chevy is one of the most spacious SUVs in the class, with lots of cargo room and comfortable seating for eight. It offers more features than its Nissan rival, including connectivity options like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Traverse also has better handling and a smoother ride than the Pathfinder. Throw in the Traverse’s lower starting price and better predicted reliability rating, and it’s the clear choice.

Which Is Better: Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota Highlander?

The Toyota Highlander is a better buy than the Nissan. The Toyota's cabin is one of the nicer ones in the class, and even the base trim comes with lots of tech and driver assistance features. These models have comparable seating space, but between the two, the Pathfinder actually has a more intuitive infotainment system. The standard Highlander (with its four-cylinder engine) has a starting price that’s just a couple hundred dollars higher than the base Pathfinder’s. However, you’ll want to upgrade to the V6, even though it raises the Toyota’s price to about $33,500. Despite this higher price, the Highlander is the better choice.

Compare the Pathfinder, Traverse, and Highlander »

Pathfinder Interior

How Many People Does the Pathfinder Seat?

The 3-row Nissan Pathfinder seats seven. Cloth upholstery comes standard, and you can opt for power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats. Very tall drivers or passengers might want more room in the front seats, but most occupants should fit fine. The second-row seats are low, which can push your knees into an awkward and uncomfortable position. While some 3-row SUVs have a miniscule back seat, the Pathfinder can fit smaller adults in a pinch. The second row slides to allow for easier access to the rear.

Pathfinder and Car Seats

The Pathfinder has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat attachments in its second row. The middle seat and the third-row passenger-side seat each have a top tether anchor. The upper anchors are easy to locate, but the lower anchors are buried too deep in the seat cushions. The second row can move to allow third-row access – even when a child safety seat is installed.

Pathfinder Interior Quality

Despite a midcycle refresh in 2017, the Pathfinder’s interior design feels outdated. Rivals are more stylish, outshining the Pathfinder’s plain dashboard layout. However, most materials are of a suitable quality, and that quality increases as you move up the trim levels.

Pathfinder Cargo Space

The 2018 Pathfinder has 16 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in use. Fold down the last row, and you'll get 47.8 cubic feet of space. There's a maximum of 79.8 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded. Those numbers are about average for the class, but primary rivals offer more space. The 2018 Chevy Traverse has a class-leading 98.2 cubic feet of total space, with 23 cubes behind its third row. The Toyota Highlander has a little less space behind its third and second rows, but a slightly larger maximum cargo volume. 

The last two rows of seats in the Pathfinder fold flat, so you can easily load big or bulky items. A motion-activated liftgate is optional; when paired with proximity key entry, it allows you to open the hatch simply by waving your foot under the rear bumper.

Pathfinder Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the 2018 Pathfinder include tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, voice recognition, six USB ports, hands-free text messaging, a six-speaker stereo system, HD Radio, satellite radio, an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system, push-button start, a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, and a rear-seat alert system. Optional features include remote start, proximity key entry, a 120-volt power outlet, a motion-activated power liftgate, a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, a 13-speaker Bose premium audio system, a rear-seat DVD player, wireless phone charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and navigation. 

The standard infotainment system has sharp graphics and quick processing times for your inputs. It's easy to use even with no prior practice, and you can control functions either through the touch screen or via a large knob directly under the screen. A smattering of other physical buttons allows you to easily adjust the volume, temperature, or radio station.

Read more about interior »

Pathfinder Performance

Pathfinder Engine: V6 Is All You Need

Under the hood of the 2018 Pathfinder is a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and a V6 engine that puts out 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. The Pathfinder pulls away quickly from a stop, and it has plenty of power for merging and passing on the highway. The CVT is a highlight of this powertrain; while others drone under heavy acceleration, the Pathfinder's stays quiet and always finds the right gear to maximize the engine's performance.

Pathfinder Gas Mileage: Efficient Power

The Pathfinder gets EPA-estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. This is a little above average for the class and good for a V6-powered midsize SUV. The 2018 Toyota Highlander gets the same mileage with its V6, but lower highway mileage with its standard four-cylinder engine. The V6-powered 2018 Chevy Traverse manages 18/27 mpg city/highway.

Pathfinder Ride and Handling: Rough and Tumble

Besides good engine power, the Pathfinder doesn’t offer a lot of positives from behind the wheel. It has controlled body lean when going around corners, but that's about the only perk regarding its handling. That controlled body lean is the result of a tightened suspension, which also yields a stiff ride. This is especially apparent when you hit a bump or pothole.

Front-wheel drive is standard, and a four-wheel-drive system is optional. With it, you can switch between 2WD, automatic 4WD, or full-time 4WD.

Pathfinder Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the Pathfinder has a towing capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. That makes it one of the most capable vehicles in the class. Several other midsize crossovers can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Pathfinder Reliability

Is the Nissan Pathfinder Reliable?

The 2018 Pathfinder has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Nissan Pathfinder Warranty

A new Nissan Pathfinder comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander receive the same coverage lengths.

Read more about reliability »

Pathfinder Safety

Pathfinder Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 Pathfinder a top safety rating of Good in all areas tested. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Pathfinder a perfect five-star overall safety rating, as well as five stars for side impact safety and four stars for front and rollover crash tests.

Pathfinder Safety Features

The Pathfinder comes standard with a rearview camera and – as of this year – forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Also standard for 2018 is the Rear Door Alert system, which reminds drivers to check the back seat before exiting the vehicle.

Optional driver assistance features include rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and an around-view camera.

Read more about safety »

Which Nissan Pathfinder Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder comes in four trims: S (base), SV, SL, and Platinum. All models come with a V6 engine and a CVT. Front-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is optional in any model.

Nissan Pathfinder S

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder starts at $31,040. Standard features include cloth seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, voice recognition, six USB ports, hands-free text messaging, a six-speaker stereo system, HD Radio, satellite radio, an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system, push-button start, a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, and a rear-seat alert system. Remote start is optional for $275 in this trim, and there are a few other stand-alone options for every trim. Wireless phone charging costs $250 and a Wi-Fi hot spot costs $450.

Nissan Pathfinder SV

The Pathfinder SV has a retail price of $33,730 and comes with an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity key entry, rear parking sensors, and remote start. The $400 All-Weather package adds heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, and a heated steering wheel. For $1,400, the Tech package comes with navigation, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and NissanConnect services.

Nissan Pathfinder SL

The Pathfinder SL starts at $37,750. It includes leather seats, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front and outboard second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a 120-volt power outlet, a motion-activated power liftgate, navigation, NissanConnect services, adaptive cruise control, an around-view camera, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. The $2,650 Premium package comes with a dual-panel panoramic moonroof and a 13-speaker Bose premium audio system. The new Midnight Edition package is also available in this trim; it adds a number of black exterior accents, including a black rear spoiler and black aluminum-alloy wheels.

Nissan Pathfinder Platinum

The top-of-the-line Pathfinder Platinum has an MSRP of $42,570. It adds heated and ventilated front seats, a 13-speaker Bose premium audio system, and a dual-panel panoramic moonroof. You can also add the Mobile Entertainment System package for $1,700, which adds a rear-seat DVD player.

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 2018 Nissan Pathfinder specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder simply can't match up to rival midsize SUVs. A stiff ride and uncomfortable seats detract from its appeal as a daily driver, and the interior design won't wow you. The Pathfinder's few positives (a strong engine and user-friendly tech) can be found in rivals that offer additional upsides.

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

  • "On the downside, the Pathfinder offers relatively compact cargo capacity and utility compared to others. None of this detracts from the Pathfinder overall, though. It elevates the humble family SUV to something slightly less than luxury, but more upscale than utilitarian. It's a happy middle ground, backed up by some real capability, that makes it worth a look for anyone considering a three-row crossover." -- Edmunds
  • "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)
  • "The … Nissan Pathfinder is more of the same, but that's not a bad thing. The three-row segment is a crowded one, and loyalties are starting to matter more than they once did. Those who liked the … Pathfinder will feel right at home here, and buyers coming from another manufacturer will find enough familiarity in both features and driving style to acclimate quickly." -- Left Lane News (2017)
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