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2018 Honda Pilot vs. 2018 Nissan Pathfinder: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill September 2018

Two of the leading 7-passenger crossovers on the market today are the 2018 Honda Pilot and the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder. Anyone looking for a family-hauling SUV probably has both vehicles on their list. Below, we'll take a look at the differences between the two and then give our recommendation for which is the better buy in 2018.

Basic Specs

The Pilot was all-new for the 2016 model year, and an updated model is on its way for 2019. The Pilot employs only one engine -- a 3.5-liter V6 good for 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. On base LX, EX and EX-L models, the engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, while Touring and Elite models use a new-for-2018 9-speed automatic. While all but the Elite model comes standard with front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive is available across the board.

The Pathfinder is available exclusively with one engine as well. All Pathfinders get a 3.5-liter V6 making 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque, mated to a continuously variable transmission. All trim levels are available with either FWD or AWD.

Despite being short a few horsepower to the Pathfinder, the AWD Pilot manages a faster 0-to-60 time, requiring 6.2 seconds, while the Pathfinder takes 7.4.

The Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the Pathfinder can pull 6,000. The Pilot seats up to eight, while the Pathfinder has room for seven.

Fuel Economy

Equipped with AWD, the Pilot achieves 18 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg overall in combined driving. These figures increase by one mpg in all categories for Pilots equipped with only FWD.

AWD Pathfinders earn 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined, while FWD models, like the Pilot, earn one extra mpg in each category.

Space

The Pilot is 194.5 inches long, 78.6 inches wide and 69.8 inches tall and offers 7.3 inches of ground clearance. Inside, the Pilot offers front-seat passengers 40.1 inches of headroom and 40.9 inches of legroom. Second-row passengers get 40.2 inches of headroom and 38.4 inches of legroom. In its third row, the Pilot offers 38.9 inches of headroom and 31.9 inches of legroom.

The Pathfinder is 198.5 inches long, 77.2 inches wide and 69.6 inches tall and offers 7.0 inches of ground clearance. Up front, the Pathfinder offers 42.2 inches of headroom and 42.3 inches of legroom, while in the second row, passengers get 39.4 inches of headroom and 41.7 inches of legroom. Third-row Pathfinder passengers get 37.8 inches of headroom and 30.7 inches of legroom.

Altogether, the Pathfinder is longer than the Pilot, but it's also narrower and shorter. Inside, the Pathfinder offers more room in the first and second rows but slightly less in its third row.

In terms of cargo volume, the Pilot offers 17 cu ft. of storage behind its third row, 47 cu ft. with the third row stowed and 84 cu ft. with both the second and third rows stowed. The Pathfinder offers similar dimensions, with 16 cu ft., 48 cu ft. and 80 cu ft., respectively.

Altogether, these vehicles are very equally matched in terms of size and space.

While the Pilot offers room for up to eight people, thanks to a third row that seats three across, second row captain's chairs included on upper trim levels reduce this figure to seven. The Pathfinder's third row only seats two, and second row captain's chairs are unavailable, meaning that every iteration of the Pathfinder seats seven.

Infotainment

Available on the Pilot is an 8.0-in touchscreen infotainment system offering Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. The Pilot receives criticism for its infotainment software and for the lack of a physical volume knob, an issue that is rectified on 2019 models which see the return of the knob.

The Pathfinder comes standard with an 8.0-in touchscreen infotainment system but lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, features that should be expected in this segment. Without this compatibility, buyers are forced to rely on Nissan's "NissanConnect" infotainment system, which is clunky and outdated.

Both the Pilot and the Pathfinder offer three 12-volt outlets, but the Pathfinder offers seven USB ports to the Pilot's five.

Features

Both the Pilot and the Pathfinder are available with dual-panel moon roofs. The Pathfinder offers an available top-down 360-degree camera, which makes navigating tight parking spots a breeze. The 2018 Honda Pilot offers a rearview camera with multiple view angles, but no available 360-degree camera. Additional features available on the Pathfinder include a Bose audio system; the Pilot doesn't offer any optional branded audio systems. Both vehicles offer an available power tailgate, but only the Pathfinder's can be operated by waving your foot under the tailgate. High-end trim levels of either offer heated and ventilated seats along with a heated steering wheel. The Pathfinder is available in "Midnight Edition" trim, which is based on the SL model and adds blacked-out wheels and trim pieces, giving the vehicle a slightly more aggressive appearance.

Altogether, these two vehicles offer very similar feature content. The Pathfinder may seem to give you slightly more for your money, but the Pilot makes up for this through refinement and superior driving manners.

Safety

Both the 2018 Pilot and the 2018 Pathfinder perform very well in crash-testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Both also offer driver-assistance safety features, but the Pilot's offering is more comprehensive. Standard on the Pathfinder are forward-collision warning and front automated emergency braking, while adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensor are optional. The Pathfinder doesn't offer lane-departure warning or lane-keep assist.

The 2018 Pilot doesn't offer any standard driver-assistance tech on its entry-level model LX, but Honda's entire suite of technology is optional on EX and EX-L models and standard on Touring and Elite models. This consists of adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, front parking sensors, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic monitoring and rear parking sensors.

While both of these vehicles are safe, the Pilot offers more in the way of the driver-assistance features buyers should expect from their new vehicle in 2018.

Reliability

Honda and Nissan products are generally regarded as having above average reliability. Both the Pilot and the Pathfinder offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranties, on par with the rest of the industry.

Autotrader's Advice

The Pilot is the newer of these two vehicles and offers better safety features, room for an additional person and a slightly more modern and stately design. Additionally, it offers better driving dynamics than the more value-driven Pathfinder, and its traditional geared transmission is a far superior unit to the Pathfinder's CVT. This is why we recommend the 2018 Honda Pilot over the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder.

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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.
2018 Honda Pilot vs. 2018 Nissan Pathfinder: Which Is Better? - Autotrader