There’s a reason automotive designers and engineers love dreaming up sports cars in their spare time. Built for a singular purpose, performance vehicles need minimal compromises on their way to production. Meanwhile, three-row SUVs are the definition of compromise. Juggling multi-passenger safety, comfort, cargo and convenience – all while remaining affordable and fuel efficient – these family vehicles are more science than art.
The Honda Pilot has long been a favorite for its satisfaction of these demands, but there’s always room for improvement. For the 2022 model year, Nissan introduces a new Pathfinder to refine the three-row equation. So which SUV is the better buy? Edmunds’ experts compared them to find out.
Comfort + Practicality
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 and car seat installation is a breeze. Excellent head and leg room in the first two rows accommodate larger family members, while single-button access to the third row allows kids to move in and out without fuss. A quiet cabin and compliant suspension keep the whole family happy, too.
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 while keeping a car seat installed, though this narrows the alley. 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 unsettle the Pathfinder and flat, firm seats are less than luxurious. Comfort and versatility improve with the latest generation Pathfinder, but in both categories, the Pilot maintains leadership.
Safety + Tech
Passive safety in the Pilot is excellent, with top ratings from the IIHS in most categories. Active safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist need refinement, however. The Pilot’s touchscreen infotainment is intuitive and responsive, but doesn’t introduce any cutting edge features. Passengers in the front two rows find sufficient outlets to charge devices. Meanwhile, third row passengers are begging for a spare port.
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 Apple CarPlay and Android Auto trump the Pilot’s wired connections, and a wireless charging pad sweetens the deal. The infotainment is responsive and clear, though the interface appears dated. More advanced features and a better safety rating give the Pathinder an edge here.
Engines + Fuel Efficiency
Honda equips the Pilot with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces a healthy 280 horsepower. Our tester made the dash to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, which is quicker than most three-row SUVs. All-wheel drive versions return 19 city, 26 highway, and 22 combined mpg, which is on par with rivals.
Nissan fits its own 3.5-liter V6 under the Pathfinder’s hood. With fractionally more power at its disposal, the Pathfinder still lags behind the Pilot in a run to 60 mph. The EPA rates the all-wheel drive Pathfinder at an impressive 23 combined mpg, though our real-world testing loop showed a less promising average. Pilot and Pathfinder trade blows in this category, each landing a few good hits.
Value + 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 3-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 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and three years of roadside assistance. 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. Alas, the 2022 Honda Pilot holds its footing as a well-rounded three-row SUV with stronger appeal.