The 2020 Pathfinder traded in its off-road equipment years ago to shuttle families and complete road trips. The three-row Nissan crossover isn’t particularly noteworthy, but it provides comfy accommodations and solid value. Its standard V-6 powertrain and optional all-wheel drive are dutiful but passive and not particularly fuel efficient on the highway. However, it can tow more than most mid-size alternatives and rides with an impressive solitude. Likewise, it offers a slew of driver assists and a straightforward infotainment system. While the 2020 Pathfinder doesn’t excite in any way, it’s undeniably capable and comfortable.
What’s New for 2020?
Nissan doesn’t change or update the 2020 Pathfinder in any meaningful way. The rugged-looking Rock Creek Edition that was introduced last year is still available. However, those who hope the heritage-inspired package actually packs some legitimate off-road equipment will be disappointed.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the Pathfinder SV is the best combination of cost and desirable content. It improves upon the cheaper S model with more standard features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, passive entry, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, rear parking sensors, and remote start. We’d also select the Rock Creek Edition for its chunkier exterior elements and add the corresponding Technology package. It brings heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a more robust infotainment system with built-in navigation. Those who want the all-weather capability of all-wheel drive can add it for an extra $1690.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Pathfinder’s V-6 engine can best be described as adequate. It’s far from the quickest in its class, but it’s not painfully slow, either. The 284-hp 3.5-liter engine is about average in this class, but clearly the Nissan doesn’t use its ponies as well as jack rabbits such as the Chevy Traverse and the Honda Pilot. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is standard on all Pathfinders, and it’s mostly unobtrusive and smooth in everyday driving. It’s when you press the accelerator harder to merge or pass that you’ll notice the engine droning, which can be annoying on extended drives. The Pathfinder can tow up to 6000 pounds, which is 1000 more than most competitors. Overly light steering and lots of body roll make the Pathfinder feel bigger from behind the wheel than it is. The upside is a mostly plush and quiet ride that makes highway trips a breeze—but most of its better-handling rivals can make this claim, too.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Based on the EPA’s metrics, both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Pathfinder sit near the top of the class—only the Mazda CX-9 with its turbocharged four-cylinder beats the Nissan in a few categories. The all-wheel-drive Pathfinder we tested was an underachiever, hitting only 22 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route—significantly lower than its EPA highway number of 26 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Decently upscale trimmings and comfortable seats make for a pleasant interior. As you might expect of a family SUV, cupholders and USB ports abound, and there are many seating configurations available. It doesn’t feel as modern or luxurious as several newer competitors, however. The front seats are particularly spacious and airy for this class, and provide nice cushioning. Legroom in the second row is generous, too, and the seats flip and slide easily to provide easy access to the third row. Good luck finding much comfort back there, however: the bottom cushions are low to the floor and legroom is scarce, making it a place for short trips only—at least for adults. Folding the second- and third-row seats is at least a simple process, making it easy to expand the cargo area when necessary. Even so, the Pathfinder held fewer carry-on suitcases than every three-row SUV in its competitive set except for the CX-9.
Infotainment and Connectivity
An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard on all models; its graphics look as if they’ve come straight out of 2010, though, even if its menus are logically organized. It also lacks the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability that we’ve come to expect in this segment. Onboard Wi-Fi with a 4G LTE data connection is available as a dealer-installed option on any Pathfinder model.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Pathfinder performed well across the board in crash tests, earning a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a Top Safety Pick honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Entry-level models come with basic driver-assistance features, but opting for a more expensive version of Pathfinder adds a few extras to the mix. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Nissan’s warranty coverage provides nothing remarkable, especially when compared with Hyundai and Kia’s famously long warranties of 10 years or 100,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance