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2016 Honda Pilot vs. 2016 Nissan Pathfinder: Which Is Better?

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2016 Honda Pilot review, the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder review and Buying a Used Honda Pilot: Everything You Need to Know.


If you’re interested in a new midsize crossover, you probably already know all about the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder and the 2016 Honda Pilot. Both are outstanding new models that offer a lot of amenities, cavernous interiors, excellent safety equipment and reasonable pricing. But which one is better? And which one should you buy? We’ve created a close comparison that answers those questions, but first let’s see what’s new with the Pilot and the Pathfinder for the latest model year.

2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is totally redesigned for 2016, offering revised styling inside and out, as well as major upgrades to its equipment list and powertrain. See all 2016 Honda Pilot models available near you

2016 Nissan Pathfinder interior

2016 Nissan Pathfinder

The Pathfinder is largely unchanged for 2016, save for a newly available Cold Weather package for the SV trim and a newly standard heated steering wheel in SL models. See all 2016 Nissan Pathfinder models available near you

2016 Honda Pilot   2016 Nissan Pathfinder


Although the latest Honda Pilot has not yet been rated for reliability by experts at J.D. Power, the mechanically similar outgoing model earned a better-than-average rating. Likewise, the latest Nissan Pathfinder also earned a better-than-average reliability rating from J.D. Power.

As for warranty coverage, both the Honda Pilot and the Nissan Pathfinder offer the same terms — 3 years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage and 5 years or 60,000 miles of powertrain protection. Between identical warranties and identical J.D. Power ratings, this category is a draw, and we suspect shoppers especially interested in reliability will find both the Pilot and the Pathfinder to their liking.

2016 Honda Pilot   2016 Nissan Pathfinder

Fuel Economy

Both the Pilot and the Pathfinder offer only one powertrain choice. In the Pilot, it’s a 3.5-liter V6 that offers 280 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6- or 9-speed automatic transmission, depending on which model you choose. Fuel economy with the 6-speed reaches as high as 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the 9-speed touts up to 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the Pathfinder also offers a 3.5-liter V6, though it makes only 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a standard continuously variable automatic transmission, the Pathfinder’s powertrain also returns up to 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy, making this category a dead heat.

2016 Honda Pilot   2016 Nissan Pathfinder


In crash testing carried out by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both the Pathfinder and the Pilot earned perfect 5-star overall ratings. In crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Pilot earned the firm’s Top Safety Pick + score, while the Pathfinder stopped just short at merely Top Safety Pick. The additional + is due to the Pilot’s advantages in safety features and technology.

Just what are those advantages? Unfortunately, the Pathfinder falls short in one key area compared to the Pilot and many other midsize SUVs. It doesn’t offer several of today’s latest safety gadgets, such as forward-collision warning, automatic braking, lane-keep assist or lane-departure warning. The Honda offers all of that and more, also touting the firm’s excellent LaneWatch blind spot camera.

As a result, the Pilot has a leg up over the Pathfinder in terms of safety, though we admit that drivers who don’t want the latest safety features and gadgets will find that the Pilot and Pathfinder offer roughly the same excellent level of crashworthiness.

2016 Honda Pilot interior   2016 Nissan Pathfinder interior


The Pathfinder isn’t quite as new as the recently redesigned Pilot and lags behind its chief Honda rival in terms of technology. We’ve already covered a few of the features the Pathfinder lacks, such as forward-collision warning, automatic braking, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning. But it doesn’t stop there: The Pilot also holds a few other unique features over the Pathfinder, such as fuel-saving automatic start/stop, rear sunshades and automatic windshield wipers.

Simply put, we don’t find the Pathfinder to be especially outdated, but we’re impressed with the Pilot’s long list of modern conveniences and gadgets.

2016 Honda Pilot   2016 Nissan Pathfinder


In terms of value, the Pathfinder and Pilot are locked in a virtual dead heat. The Pilot starts at $31,000 with shipping, while the Pathfinder is $30,800. If you upgrade to higher trim levels, you’ll find that the midlevel Pilot EX is $33,700 with shipping, while the midlevel Pathfinder SV is $34,000. Naturally, both models also include relatively similar lists of equipment and features.

As a result, this category is too close to call, like so many others in this comparison. Given similarities in pricing and equipment, we don’t think either the Pathfinder or the Pilot touts a dramatically more compelling value in comparison to the other.

Autotrader’s Advice

If you’ve followed along so far, you’ll probably realize that awarding a winner here is very difficult, largely because the 2016 Nissan Pathfinder and the 2016 Honda Pilot offer so many similar benefits. But in the end, our vote goes to the Pilot by a nose. It offers more safety features and better technology than the Pathfinder, and it also touts a newer, more modern design for the same price as the Nissan. If you can negotiate a better deal on the Nissan, however, we could see how the Pathfinder might quickly become more compelling than its Honda rival.

Find a Used Honda Pilot for sale

Find a Used Nissan Pathfinder for sale


Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. I just bought the platnum pathfinder over the pilot and highlander.  It felt bigger and more plush.  It does have lane detection just not forward collision. I hated the lack of a center armrest in the pilot.  For that reason alone I would not buy it and I love my 14 accord exl.  Honda fell short in my opinion on the pilot.  I’m 6-2 and I felt cramped for leg room.

    • As someone who sells both the Pilot and the Pathfinder, I will say that the Pilot is definitely the biggest of its class. and I’m 6’1″ with most of my height in my legs. The center armrest was removed from the new Pilot because the older ones that had the center armrest you speak of had to be replaced a lot by previous owners. The Pilot stands at #1 in its class for a very good reason. The Pathfinder is a really nice SUV…but be careful of buying “nice”.

  2. Has the Pathfinder improved their front end stability problems from the past models? That would be the one issue that would sway me from the Pathfinder to the Honda.

  3. you did not disclose that the safety features you speak of are optional and not available on all Pilot models

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