If you're looking for a new family SUV, then you've probably discovered that several new vehicles are offered as more than one model -- often giving an option between a mainstream and a luxury version. Examples include the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave, the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX, and the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX. Today, we're focused on the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder and the 2014 Infiniti QX60, which are two excellent 3-row crossovers that offer more similarities than most. What are the key differences? We have the details below.
In general, you might find that the Nissan Pathfinder and Infiniti QX60 look a lot alike. Both offer handsome, if familiar, lines, both feature long hoods and steeply raked windshields, and both include large, distinctive front grilles, but there are a few subtle differences if you look a little closer. The biggest is the D-pillar, which is the panel just above the taillights that connects the crossover's body to its roof. The Pathfinder has a traditional pillar, while the Infiniti's is kinked for a little extra style. The two crossovers also differ in wheel design, headlights, and most importantly, levels of chrome trim (thanks to the chrome trim, the Infiniti stands out with a slightly more luxurious look than the Pathfinder does).
The interior variations between the Pathfinder and QX60 are a lot like the exterior differences: subtle but present. For instance, while the two crossovers feature similar center control stacks, the QX60's buttons are arranged in a more stylish manner, and the material that surrounds them boasts a higher quality level. The same goes for other trim pieces, including the transmission lever, the dashboard trim and the steering-wheel finish. In other words, despite so many shared parts and materials, the Pathfinder and QX60 really do offer some key distinctions. Of course, the major components -- including seating arrangements and control layouts -- are largely the same between both vehicles.
Under the skin, there are no major differences between the Pathfinder and the QX60; this is common when it comes to mainstream models and their luxury variants. Both SUVs use a 3.5-liter V6, which is good for about 260 horsepower, and fuel economy for both crossovers is 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway with 2-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive (AWD).
For shoppers interested in better gas mileage, both the Pathfinder and QX60 offer a hybrid variant. Once again, the numbers are the same: Power is around 250 horses, while gas mileage ranges as high as 25 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with 2-wheel drive or 25 mpg city/27 mpg hwy with AWD.
When it comes to equipment, the Pathfinder has fewer standard features than its Infiniti cousin, but that makes sense given that the Pathfinder's starting price is around $30,000 with shipping while the QX60 starts around $43,000 with shipping.
A well-equipped Pathfinder, however, starts to offer Infiniti levels of luxury: The upscale Pathfinder Platinum starts at $41,000 with shipping. Its wide range of features includes a 360-degree parking camera, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and a navigation system. The QX60 can't offer this wide range of features, suggesting that a top-trim Pathfinder might actually be a better value than a base-level QX60.
Perhaps the Pathfinder's biggest weakness in terms of features is a lack of the high-tech safety gadgets offered by the QX60. We've covered this more thoroughly in the Technology section below, but the key point is that the Pathfinder just doesn't match the QX60 -- or its mainstream rivals -- for modern safety features such as forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning systems.
As we mentioned above, an upscale Pathfinder and a base-level QX60 largely offer the same equipment. There's the excellent Around View camera, for instance, which provides a top-down 360-degree view of the car from above. There are convenience features such as a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats. And there are even gadgets including a navigation system and a Bose audio system.
Unfortunately, the Pathfinder falls short of the QX60 in one key area: safety technology. Unlike the QX60, the Pathfinder simply doesn't offer features like adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system or a blind spot monitoring system. If these features are important to you, you're left with little choice but to upgrade to a QX60 -- or go with one of the Pathfinder's mainstream competitors, many of which include these features on their options lists.
Although the Pathfinder might come up short compared to the QX60 in terms of safety features, the Nissan's crash-test ratings are identical to the Infiniti's, and they prove that both vehicles offer excellent crash protection. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, for example, both crossovers earned the same 5-star overall score -- a number comprised of a 4-star front-impact performance, a 4-star rollover rating and a 5-star side-impact score. In tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), both vehicles once again offered similar crash protection, though IIHS has yet to rate the crossovers for overall crashworthiness.
In the end, the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder and the 2014 Infiniti QX60 offer a lot of similarities, especially in terms of styling, features and mechanics. In fact, the two crossovers mainly diverge in the details: Major points of separation include some extra chrome trim here and a little more wood there. But the QX60 is certainly the more upscale crossover, thanks to its wider range of safety technology and its higher-end interior. Still, we suspect that most shoppers will be happy with a well-equipped Pathfinder to satisfy their luxury fix.