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The 2023 Honda Pilot and 2023 Nissan Pathfinder are among the many three-row SUVs in a crowded segment. They’re similar in many areas, but one costs more to own down the line. Let’s compare the Pilot and Pathfinder to see which midsize SUV is more affordable long-term.

2023 Nissan Pathfinder vs. 2023 Honda Pilot: Specs and features

A side profile shot of a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder midsize SUV model parked on a grass shore near a small lake or pond
2023 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan Motor Corporation

The Pathfinder and Pilot have similar features. Both SUVs pack a 3.5-liter V6 engine and produce nearly identical power outputs. In the Pilot, the V6 generates 285 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. The 2023 model ditched the previous year’s nine-speed automatic transmission in favor of a 10-speed unit. On the other hand, the Pathfinder’s V6 produces 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. However, the Pathfinder has an advantage over the Pilot.

In the Nissan’s Rock Creek trim, drivers get a more potent V6 engine harnessing 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, making it more powerful than the Honda. Additionally, the Pathfinder has more towing capacity than the Pilot. Lower Pathfinder trims can tow up to 3,500 pounds but 6,000 pounds when properly equipped. Meanwhile, the 2023 Honda Pilot with front-wheel drive can tow 3,500 pounds. Adding all-wheel drive bumps the towing capacity to 5,000 pounds.

The Pathfinder has an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that runs the NissanConnect software interface. Upper trims have a larger 9.0-inch display, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard for all trims. The Pilot also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration but a smaller 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. However, like the Pathfinder, the Pilot gives its upper models a larger 9.0-inch infotainment display.

2023 Pilot vs. 2023 Pathfinder: Purchase price and cost to own

The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder has an advantage over the 2023 Honda Pilot in purchase price. The Pilot has six trims: LX, Sport, EX-L, Touring, TrailSport, and Elite. The LX has a base MSRP of $37,675, while the range-topping Elite costs at least $53,755.

On the other hand, the 2023 Pathfinder has five trims: S, SV, SL, Rock Creek, and Platinum. The entry-level S starts at $36,655, while its highest trim carries a starting MSRP of $49,625.

Based on both base models’ starting prices, the Pathfinder has a $1,000 advantage over the Pilot. Similarly, the Pathfinder costs less in its most expensive trims, with a $4,130 difference. For long-term affordability, let’s examine the five-year cost-to-own numbers for both vehicles.

A true cost of ownership encompasses a broad range of expenses that extend past the purchase price. They include costs the owner incurs throughout the car’s lifetime, such as fuel, maintenance, repairs, and depreciation.

According to Edmunds, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder’s average true cost to own is $49,367, while the Pilot’s is $46,058. The Honda SUV comes in at $3,309 less than Nissan’s, thanks mainly to lower depreciation costs. Edmunds says the depreciation cost of a Pathfinder is $17,218, while the Pilot’s depreciation cost over five years of ownership is $13,447.

However, the financing and fueling costs of a Pathfinder are significantly lower than for a Pilot, with the former costing $8,113 and $11,907 to finance and fuel, while the latter costs $8,401 and $12,456. Other costs include $4,413 for insuring and $4,810 for maintaining the Pathfinder and $3,743 and $5,043 for the Pilot.

Which midsize SUV is more affordable?

A red 2023 Honda Pilot Elite midsize SUV parked on a mountain road amid pine trees in the rain
2023 Honda Pilot Elite | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Even though the Pathfinder is a few thousand dollars costlier to own than the Pilot over five years, that doesn’t necessarily mean Nissan’s midsize SUV isn’t good. The actual cost of ownership varies depending on many factors, the most significant being how well the vehicle is cared for throughout ownership. Ultimately, the choice between the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder and the 2023 Honda Pilot boils down to personal preference.