Real-World Comparison: 2023 Toyota Highlander vs. Nissan Pathfinder
Toyota and Nissan know a thing or two about producing popular SUVs. The 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited is a fresh take on a reliable SUV, and the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is an off-road-focused trim of a classic SUV. When it comes to the Toyota Highlander vs. Nissan Pathfinder, does either sport utility vehicle pull ahead?
Which is more reliable, the Toyota Highlander vs. Nissan Pathfinder?
The good news is that the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder have existed for many years. Both have proven track records and plenty of fans. Edmunds rated both vehicles and gave the Pathfinder a three-star score for reliability and the Highlander four stars.
We test-drove both vehicles for a week and had no issues. While Toyota has a long history of reliability behind it, Nissan isn’t far behind. Both SUVs are brand new and have all the modern technology people are looking for. Since the Rock Creek is geared toward a tougher audience that might take the vehicle off the beaten path, it is ready for those adventures. Drivers of the Highlander might have different plans, like road trips and school activities.
As long as you keep up with the routine maintenance described in the owner’s manual, both SUVs should run past 100,000 miles with ease.
The Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek and Toyota Highlander Limited are similar in size
After reviewing the dimensions and driving both SUVs, the sizes are almost indistinguishable. Our test Highlander Limited didn’t have captain’s chairs, but those are available and make a big difference. If you don’t need seating for eight, the captain’s chairs make third-row access relatively easy.
|Spec||2023 Toyota Highlander||2023 Nissan Pathfinder|
|Wheelbase||112.2 inches||114.2 inches|
|Exterior – Overall length||194.9 inches||197.7 inches|
|Exterior – Overall width||76.0 inches||77.9 inches|
|Exterior – Ground clearance||8 inches||7.7 inches|
|Interior – Headroom||41.2 inches||42.3 inches|
|Interior – Leg room, front row||42.0 inches||44.3 inches|
|Interior – Leg room, second row||38.7 inches||35.5 inches|
|Max towing capacity||5,000 pounds||6,000 pounds|
|Cargo volume behind the front seat||84.3 inches||79.8 inches|
|City/Highway/Combined fuel economy||22/29/25 (FWD); 21/28/24 (AWD)||20/23/25|
The 2023 Highlander is quieter inside the cabin. That doesn’t mean the Pathfinder is loud inside, but the bigger tires and taller height just made for more noise bouncing around. Toyota’s cargo area was big enough for two golf bags, as was the Nissan’s cargo area. Based on the numbers above, the Highlander has a little extra space with the rows folded. However, the Pathfinder came with heavy-duty mats that made it seem more durable.
Both midsize SUVs scored high on safety tests
In the Toyota Highlander vs. Nissan Pathfinder safety features, there are similar systems on both vehicles. Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.5+ adds as Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Automatic High Beams. Nissan adds Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, and Lane Departure Warning.
While driving, the Highlander was more sensitive to other vehicles in traffic. The Blind Spot system beeped more than expected, but it was OK to have a warning. It seemed the system worked as anticipated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2023 Toyota Highlander a five-star overall safety rating. It also received the Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Nissan’s driver assistance systems were helpful. The cameras and audible warnings ensured no obstacles in blind spots, and the surround view monitor made it easy to see in front of the SUV. Unfortunately, the NHTSA hasn’t fully rated the Pathfinder yet. It did give it four and five-star ratings on some of the tests. The IIHS made it a Top Safety Pick Plus winner.
When it comes down to it, Toyota Highlander vs. Nissan Pathfinder is pretty even. Live in an area with snow or dirt you drive through occasionally? The Rock Creek is going to have more to offer. Want to get the groceries and drive around town getting good fuel economy? The Highlander has you covered! We enjoyed testing both of these three-row SUVs, and there were more positives to report than negatives.