The midsize SUV segment is filled with old tuff mountain goats softened to modern city runabouts. The Nissan Pathfinder is one of them. The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder is now fully adapted to its modern role as a daily workhorse with a spacious cabin that can seat eight people and unlike many of its competitor, the Pathfinder third row can accommodate adults in relative comfort.
The cabin packs plenty of gadgets ; an 8-inch touchscreen, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and a suite of advanced driver assistance systems. The cabin is adequately insulated (although, road noise filter in). However, in 2017, Nissan stiffened the spring rate for better body control but the suspension continues to pamper occupants.
7.1/10 Fuel Economy
The Pathfinder comes with a single engine-transmission pair, a 3.5L V6 mated to a CVT. The duo performs adequately for its intended role and more importantly, delivers exceptional fuel economy. The Pathfinder is available with 4-wheel drive for handling those occasional tricky situations. All versions of Pathfinder can tow an impressive 6000 pounds – highest in the segment.
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Features
The Pathfinder starts at $30,790 for the base trim while the top end Platinum trim retails at $42,320. The powertrain remains same throughout the range with an optional 4-wheel drive ($1600) available on all trims. What you pay decides the interior appointments and exterior cosmetics.
3.5-liter Direct Injection Gasoline
SiriusXM Travel Link with 3-year complimentary trial access
Automatic Emergency Braking
Tri-Zone Automatic Temperature Control System
EZ FLEX Seating System featuring latch and glide
Includes S features plus:
Nissan Intelligent Key
Remote Engine Start System
Rear Sonar System
Includes SV features plus:
Motion Activated Liftgate
Leather-appointed seats and door trim
Intelligent Cruise Control
Includes SL features plus:
20-inch Aluminum alloy wheels
LED low-beam projector headlights
13 Speakers Bose Premium Audio System
Climate-controlled front seats (heated and cooled)
Even the base Pathfinder S is good enough but SL trim provides a delightful package with features like power passenger seats, heated front and second-row seats, blind spot monitoring and a power lift-gate. The Pathfinder Platinum is handsomely equipped but those large 20-inch wheels compromise ride quality.
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Engine
If you want a 3-row SUV that focuses more on refinement and sedan-like handling, the 2017 Nissan Pathfinder deserves a spot at the top of your shopping list. –Kelley Blue Book
Only a single engine-transmission option ensures the performance stays the same across the lineup. The suspension hits the balance between offering supple ride quality and controlling body motions. The steering is not as eager as the Mazda CX-9 but offer effortless driving characteristics and can take on sharp bends with aplomb.
Engines and Transmission
The Nissan Pathfinder get only one engine and transmission option – a 3.5L V6 engine mated to a CVT. The 3.5L V6 develops 284 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 259 pounds-feet of torque at 4800 rpm. This combination provides sufficient power for day to day driving including merging with freeway traffic and overtaking.
2.5L Inline 4
284 hp @ 6400 rpm
290 hp @ 6500 rpm
280 hp @ 6000 rpm
227 hp @ 5000 rpm
259 ft-lbs @ 4800 rpm
255 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm
262 ft-lbs @ 4700 rpm
310 ft-lbs @ 2000 rpm
The Nissan Pathfinder is slowest among the competitors we compared, doing the 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds while the next slowest competitor is Mazda CX-9. For comparison, the Ford Explorer can rocket to 60 in 5.8 seconds thanks to its throaty 3.5L EcoBoost engine.
Mazda CX 9
Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year
Ride and Handling
The SUV rides with composure and it absorbs the bumps well. However, in 2017, Nissan stiffened the springs for increased body control and that has compromised the ride quality a bit. This shortcoming is especially pronounced in the Pathfinder Platinum with 20-inch wheels.
The Pathfinder stops within 170 feet from 70 mph. That’s the best performance among the rivals here. Ford Explorer trails closely taking 174 to stop from 70 mph while the slowest Honda Pilot takes a scary looking 198 feet.
Mazda CX 9
70-0 MPH (ft.)
Hauling and Towing Capacity
At 6000 pounds, the Nissan's towing capacity is highest among competitors here. And owing to the same powertrain across the lineup, even the base Pathfinder S can tow the same. Most of the other competitors can tow 5000 pounds. An honorable mention (not compared here) is V8 equipped Dodge Durango that can tow 7400 pounds.
Mazda CX 9
Towing Capacity (Lbs.)
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Fuel Economy
Nissan's SUV more than makes up for its lack-luster acceleration with its stellar fuel economy. It delivers 20 mpg in city and 27 mpg on the highway for a combined EPA rating of 23 mpg. The Mazda CX-9 comes extremely close with only its highway mpg figure trailing the Nissan’s by 1 mpg.
The Ford Explorer is thirstiest here. However, its 2.3L EcoBoost is more efficient. We think for this class of vehicle, an ideal engine is the one that delivers excellent fuel economy while delivering effortless performance. Nissan Pathfinder hits the bulls-eyes. After all, the kick in the back will lose its importance while a friendly, less thirsty engine will continue to delight through years.
Mazda CX 9
Mpg city mpg
Mpg highway mpg
Mpg combine mpg
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Interior
The Nissan Pathfinder has evolved from a full-size brute to a family-friendly ‘ute. Families will appreciate its size and cargo capacity, which has been improved since its early days. –Car Connection
The Nissan Pathfinder has spacious interior (even the third row) and the cabin is well built with good quality materials. The infotainment system offers smooth and crisp response but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are missing (like other Nissans). The luggage space is less than average.
Seating and Comfort
It can seat seven people. The seats provide good support and the driving position is natural. It’s not exactly commanding as the SUV gets a car-like unibody construction but the outward visibility is great.
The front seats offer best in class legroom but the hip and shoulder room is average among the competitor. Its second row is also spacious and offers great comfort for those long journeys. However, the third row really impresses and it turns out to be useful even for adults. A notable shortcoming about the interior is lack of sufficient storage space in the center console.
Although the overall design feels a bit aged compared to the competitors, the material quality is top notch (except the fake wood accents) and everything is well put together. Amenities like Heated steering wheel, and heated and cooled front seats add to the “feel-good” factor. Tri-zone climate control system is also available.
Passenger Volume(ft cube)
Front (Head/Hip/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Second (Head/Hip/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Third (Head/Hip/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
The Nissan Pathfinder has the least cargo capacity among the competition. With all seats up, the cargo area length is 19.8 inch. Ford Explorer has 21 inches and the Pilot and CX-9 have 21.5 inches. However, once the third row is fully folded (can also be folded in 60/40 split), Nissan has the highest cargo area length – 51.1 inches. With the second row folded, cargo area length is 78.9 inch.
Mazda CX 9
Cargo Area Length
(Behind first row/Behind second row/behind third row)
Inside, the SUV has an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It’s among the better in competition with crisp graphics and fast response. Optional features like parking sensor and navigation (optional) are available from SV trim onwards. The Platinum trim gets 12 speakers Bose audio system. However, Nissan does not offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Exterior
No longer the squared-off utility vehicle it used to be, the latest-gen Pathfinder is more about windswept curves and rounded edges. –Kelley Blue Book
The Nissan Pathfinder had lost almost all its previous ruggedness in its third generation. Nissan realized this and now it gets a bit more muscle. No, it’s not intimidating – lots of subtle curves, calm looking headlights and friendly looking front grille will not scare away your kids. The low ground clearance with aerodynamic extensions behind wheels makes its family intentions clear.
Dimension and Weight
The Pathfinder is among the lithest competitor here at 4293 pounds. That’s almost 600 pounds less than the lumbering Ford Explorer. In spite of that, the Pathfinder is also among the lengthiest at 198.5 inches – some clever engineering is at play here.
Track Width(in) F/R
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Safety
The highlight of the active safety features in the Nissan Pathfinder is the fact that Automatic Emergency Braking is standard across all trims. With that, higher trims get things like blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.
The SUV has a whole host of passive safety features including dual-stage airbags and side impact beams. The NHTSA has given the it a 5-star crash test rating that speaks volume about its crash safety credibility.
The standard safety features include -
Side Impact Beams
Curtain 1st, 2nd, And 3rd Row Airbags
ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Low Tire Pressure Warning
Rear Child Safety Locks
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Automatic Emergency Braking Forward Collision
Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
Airbag Occupancy Sensor
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
RearView Monitor Back-Up Camera
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Rear Seat
Small overlap front driver side
Small overlap front passenger side
Moderate overlap front
Head restraints & seats
Front crash prevention
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Competition
Nissan Pathfinder vs Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer has a range of engine options – from a small I4 EcoBoost to the most powerful in segment 3.5L EcoBoost. It gets handsome styling and spacious, comfortable interior to go with it. The cabin is loaded with tech too. However, the Explorer costs more than the Pathfinder for similarly equipped trim. Also, the Pathfinder is solidly built – not a thing we can say for the Explorer.
Nissan Pathfinder vs Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot is one of the most well rounded midsize SUV with well-equipped, spacious seats (even the third row) and high-quality materials. An efficient and powerful engine pulls the pilot briskly along the road. On top of that, the Pilot comes with Honda’s reputation for reliability and has great resale value too. However, the Nissan Pathfinder is every bit as practical and has an air of toughness.
Nissan Pathfinder vs Mazda CX-9
The CX-9 continues the Mazda’s reputation for offering engaging and entertaining driving characteristics. The handsome exterior will blow you to pieces. The gorgeous interior will blow the pieces left of you to smaller pieces. However, it rides a bit on the harsher side. The Pathfinder is a more practical choice with its roomy interiors and great ride quality.
2018 Nissan Pathfinder Final Verdict
The Nissan Pathfinder has long moved away from its off-roader roots and has embraced the civil life rather well. The interior is spacious and comfortable, has most of the modern electrical assistance and nice to have features, and the infotainment is crisp. However, millennials will be disappointed as the Pathfinder lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The Nissan comes with a single powertrain option that’s effective in doing what it’s ought to do – transport your family and luggage effortlessly and efficiently. In fact, the excellent fuel efficiency is one of the most impressive things about this Nissan mid-size SUV. It’s slow among competition though.
So if you need (or desire) more grunt, Ford Explorer’s 3.5 EcoBoost V6 delivers terrific acceleration and comes luxuriously appointed too – at a cost of lower efficiency. The Mazda CX-9 is still the go-to three-row SUV for driving enthusiasts and the Pilot is a delicate mix of all these talents.
Automatic Emergency Braking is standard
Highest in class tow rating
Less cargo capacity than competition
Limited in-cabin Small item storage
Top end trim rides stiff
All trim gets standard Automatic Emergency Braking
New rear door alert system
New midnight edition package for SL trim
213 cu. in.
284 hp @ 6400 rpm
259 lb.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
brake rotors (f/r)
12.1 in. ventilated disc brakes/12.6 in. ventilated disc brakes
137.8 cu ft.
16 cu ft.
zero to 60 mph
braking (70-0 mph)
3 years/36000 miles
5 years/60000 miles
Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.