How Safe Is the Nissan Pathfinder?

The Nissan Pathfinder is a midsize SUV with an energetic 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. It’s also earned 3.5 stars out of 5 from J.D. Power for reliability, making it slightly better than average compared to rivals such as the Chevrolet Traverse or the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Besides reliability, safety is an important priority for many buyers. The 2020 Pathfinder comes standard with up-to-date safety features such as forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors. But how safe is the new Pathfinder? Read on to find out what NHTSA and IIHS have to say about it. 

What are NHTSA’s ratings for the Pathfinder?

The Nissan Pathfinder earned five-star ratings from NHTSA for both the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models. Because Nissan has made few structural changes to its SUV, NHTSA’s ratings for this vehicle apply to the 2014 to 2020 model years. In addition to their excellent ratings, neither model has had any recalls so far. The overall ratings break down into separate ratings for a frontal crash test, a side crash test, and a rollover test.

The frontal crash test replicates a head-on collision between two similar vehicles at a speed of 35 mph. The overall frontal crash ratings combine the front driver side and front passenger-side ratings, adding up to an overall rating of four out of five stars.

For the side crash test, NHTSA combines ratings from the side barrier and side pole tests. The side barrier test simulates an intersection crash between a standing vehicle and one that is moving at 38.5 mph. The side pole test replicates a collision between a vehicle and a fixed object such as a telephone pole or a tree. The overall rating for the Pathfinder’s side crash test was five stars. 

The Pathfinder rated four stars in the rollover test, which measures the risk of rollover in a single-vehicle loss-of-control situation. The Nissan SUV had only a 17.90 percent risk of rollover, and it did not tip in dynamic tip testing.

NHTSA also reviews vehicles to find out if they have specific recommended safety technologies. As mentioned previously, the Pathfinder has standard forward-collision warning. It lacks other safety technology that NHTSA looks for, such as lane departure warning, crash imminent braking, and dynamic brake support.

How did IIHS rate the Pathfinder?

Since the Nissan Pathfinder earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2019, it’s no surprise that the SUV received high ratings this year as well. The Top Safety Pick+ award applies only to models that pass specific headlight tests, however. IIHS’s ratings apply to Pathfinder model years from 2015 to 2020.

In its crashworthiness testing, the Pathfinder earned an overall “good” rating. Crashworthiness testing evaluates how different areas of the vehicle hold up during a collision. These areas include the front left and right corners of the vehicle, an offset area in the front of the vehicle, the side of the vehicle, its roof, and its head restraints and seats.

With one exception, all areas of testing were rated as good. Only the front right corner of the Pathfinder received a rating of acceptable.

The crash avoidance and mitigation area of testing included an evaluation of the Pathfinder’s headlights and vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention. IIHS looked at two types of headlights offered on the SUV: one for the top-of-the-line Platinum trim level and the other for the S, SV, and SL models.

The Platinum trim’s halogen projector headlights earned an overall rating of acceptable. Visibility was generally good when low beams and high beams were tested. However, these lights aren’t curve-adaptive, and they have no high-beam assist.

The remaining trim levels’ headlights received a poor rating. Like those on the Platinum model, they lack high-beam assist and are not curve-adaptive. They also tested as inadequate in some scenarios for both low beams and high beams.

Front crash prevention for the Pathfinder earned a superior rating. IIHS tested the vehicle’s forward emergency braking and determined that it met its requirements as a forward collision warning feature. In testing at 12 mph, the vehicle avoided a collision. At 25 mph, its impact speed was reduced by 14 mph.

Child seat anchors for the Pathfinder were rated as acceptable because it has two rear seating positions with complete LATCH hardware. Two additional seats in the SUV’s third row have only tether anchors.

Is the new Nissan Pathfinder safe?

NHTSA gave the Nissan Pathfinder excellent ratings for both the FWD and AWD versions. Although other rivals such as the Kia Telluride and the Toyota Highlander offer more standard advanced safety features, the Pathfinder meets most of NHTSA’s requirements for structural safety.

Similarly, IIHS testing showed that the Pathfinder is extremely crashworthy, and earning a 2019 Top Safety Pick award further emphasized just how safe it is. Its standard forward-collision warning feature with automatic emergency braking is also a plus.

Buyers can get additional safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control if they upgrade to a higher trim level.

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder starts at $32,775. While it’s not the only solid, and safe midsize SUV on the market, the Pathfinder certainly checks off all the boxes on the safety checklist.