2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder
2020 Nissan Pathfinder Rear View Driving
2020 Nissan Pathfinder Dashboard

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Test Drive Review: Ready To Find A New Path?

The original Nissan Pathfinder arrived at a time when body-on-frame SUVs touted capable off-road ability for people who lived more rugged lifestyles. Today, car-based crossovers rule the roost and the "path" found by today's Pathfinder is more likely to be a route from the PTA meeting to the grocery store than a trek up a mountain.

You can't blame car manufacturers for jumping on the crossover bandwagon - hell, even Lamborghini is doing it - but certain brands have been in the game longer than others in the US, and Nissan is one of them. The Nissan Pathfinder has always been a popular and affordable choice for large families looking for a car with equal parts practicality and comfort, and we're pleased to report that it still offers both. This fourth-generation Pathfinder arrived back in 2012 and not much has changed in that time. Nissan has stuck to the proven recipe of a naturally-aspirated V6 engine, as have its competitors the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, and the result is a predictable power band and reasonably good fuel economy. The Pathfinder is offered in two-wheel and four-wheel-drive configuration and sports a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS. A Rock Creek Edition package was made available to harken back to the Pathfinder's rugged roots and we were sent one to spend the week with.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 6 /10
  • Performance 6 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 5 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
What is BuzzScore?

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Pathfinder?

Nissan hasn't made any serious changes to the Pathfinder for 2020. The Rock Creek Edition package is still available and adds unique alloy wheels, a black mesh grille, black roof rails, and side mirrors. On the inside, the Black Creek Edition sports two-tone seating surfaces and premium metallic interior trim. This special edition also gets a standard trailer tow hitch harness and splash guards. The Pathfinder is due for a much-needed redesign in the near future.

Pros and Cons

  • Good value for money
  • Rock Creek Edition looks cool
  • Good interior space
  • Impressive towing capacity
  • Good fuel economy
  • Bland styling
  • Ancient technology
  • Engine could be more refined
  • Transmission is a weak point
  • Steering is heavy

What's the Price of the new Pathfinder in 2020?

With four trim levels on offer, there's a new Pathfinder for everyone, depending on how much you're willing to spend. The price of the Nissan Pathfinder at base level is $31,680, which is $30 more than the Honda Pilot, but a significant $2,920 less than the Toyota Highlander. Moving up to the better-equipped SV will cost you $34,470, a price increase of $2,790, but for that money, you get features such as adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, and more. Next up is the SL, which costs $38,090 and adds goodies like heated leather seats and navigation. The top of the range Platinum model breaks the 40k barrier with an asking price of $42,920 and adds a premium Bose sound system, a power moonroof, and more. Upgrading from 2WD to 4WD will cost you an extra $1,690 across the board. Fully optioned, the Platinum Pathfinder will break the $50k mark. Adding the popular Rock Creek package adds $995 onto the SV and SL models, additionally.

Best Deals on 2020 Nissan Pathfinder

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Nissan Pathfinder Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Get behind the wheel of the 2020 Pathfinder, and it becomes abundantly clear that this Japanese SUV was designed nearly a decade ago. The steering feels unnecessarily heavy and things get even worse as soon as you take on a tight corner with some extra speed: the Pathfinder rolls its body around like a fat kid at wrestling practice, and the overly heavy steering makes this SUV feel larger than it actually is. At low speeds, the steering is not any better, making it quite tiresome to move the Pathfinder around in a tight parking garage. In 4WD configuration, the Pathfinder claws to the road, which is a boon for drivers who live in snow areas, but if you're only going to be doing town driving in hotter regions, the FWD car is fine. Cars such as the Honda Pilot offer more precise steering and more balanced suspension damping. The Pathfinder's ride comfort is acceptable in this class, though we noted there are many quieter options available in this segment. Take the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade for a test drive if you want a far more modern and refined driving experience.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder SUV A Good car?

Despite not seeing any major changes for 2020, the Nissan Pathfinder SUV still manages to stick with competitors such as the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander in terms of performance, fuel economy, interior space, and overall practicality. It just feels ancient inside. Nissan has stuck to the basics when updating the Pathfinder; the exterior is unassuming and completely inoffensive, the engine is as basic as they get, and the interior design, while simple, is functional and perfect for hauling around large families.

On the road, the Pathfinder feels comfortable enough, but the heavy steering makes it feel cumbersome when you aren't at top speeds. On the highway, it cruises well, but a fair bit of road noise intrudes into the cabin. Standard safety equipment like emergency forward braking are appreciated, and safety levels are up there with the best of them. The Pathfinder then is a capable mid-size SUV which doesn't shine in any particular area, but does everything pretty well, and doesn't cost much. It's just hard to recommend when the Pathfinder has an eight-year handicap against the competition. Nissan desperately needs to refresh the Pathfinder in order to have any chance of remaining highly competitive in this segment.

What Nissan Pathfinder Model Should I Buy?

If we were going to pick a specific Nissan Pathfinder model, we'd go with the exact model Nissan sent us for testing, an SV 4WD with the Rock Creek Edition package and the Technology package specified. As-equipped, our tester rang in at $40,280, keeping the price relatively low. We like the visual and interior upgrades found on the Rock Creek Edition but wouldn't pay any more to step up into the higher SV trim. The Pathfinder is best kept on the lower end of the pricing scale because as you step up into the Platinum trim, there are many better, more luxurious options in the segment.

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Comparisons

Honda Pilot Honda
Toyota Highlander CarBuzz

2020 Nissan Pathfinder vs Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is a popular choice for families in the USA, who want lots of space, and also lots of practicality. The Pilot is powered by a naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine, which produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front or all four wheels via a six-speed auto. The Pilot feels more spritely, and will also return a respectable 19/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Out on the road, the Honda feels more composed when chucked through corners and is definitely the better driver's car. Inside, the Pilot and Pathfinder match closely in terms of passenger space, but it does offer superior levels of trunk and cargo space. Both the Pilot and Pathfinder can boast Top Safety Pick ratings from the IIHS and sport adequate standard active driver assistance features. Both cars start at around $31,600, and both offer a good balance of practicality and comfort. We'd go for the Honda purely because it drives better.

See Honda Pilot Review

2020 Nissan Pathfinder vs Toyota Highlander

Toyota's Highlander is another SUV in an ocean of practical family carriers and is a safer bet than buying stocks in Tesla, any day of the week. Power comes from a naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6, which kicks out similar power outputs to the Pathfinder of 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. Power gets directed to the front or all four wheels by an eight-speed auto transmission, which we prefer over the Pathfinder's CVT auto. The Highlander offers class-leading fuel consumption figures of 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined for FWD cars, dropping to 20/27/23 for AWD models. The interior of the Highlander feels more modern, material quality is excellent, and it offers more passenger room than the Pathfinder. Trunk and cargo space is competitive, too. Standard safety equipment includes features such as pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, and automatic high beams. The Highlander is a comfortable thing to drive, well equipped and safe, but has a price tag that is $2,500 more than the cost of the Pathfinder in base trim. We'd most likely pay the extra money and get the Toyota.

See Toyota Highlander Review
To Top