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

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2016

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

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.

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.

Reliability

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.

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.

Safety

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.

Technology

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.

Value

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.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Honda Pilot vs. 2016 Nissan Pathfinder: Which Is Better? - Autotrader