Toyota Highlander vs. Nissan Pathfinder: 2 Decades of SUV Rivalry Continues

It’s hard to imagine a new vs. old contest between the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder, but that’s what we’ve got. The current version of the Highlander is three years old, while the Pathfinder is brand spanking new and ready to enter its new generation. Does one of these three-row SUVs have what you’re looking for? Let’s find out.

A little history of the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder

A silver 2022 Toyota Highlander driving down a winding road.
2022 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

Before we dive into the comparison, let’s look at where these two SUVs came from and what they are today. Twenty years ago, the Pathfinder was a rugged, off-road SUV made to challenge other vehicles on the trails. The early days of the Highlander gave us an SUV that was more comfortable and described as a raised-up AWD minivan.

Today, these two SUVs share more similarities than differences, with plenty of comfort and useful off-road features.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder2022 Toyota Highlander
Price Range$35,856-$48,365$37,070-$52,675
Engine Options3.5-liter V63.5-liter V6 | 2.5-liter hybrid four
Horsepower 284 horsepower295 horsepower | 243 horsepower
Torque259 lb-ft263 lb-ft
Transmission9-speed automatic8-speed automatic
MPG Rating21/26 mpg21/29 mpg | 35/35 mpg
Data Provided by Autoguide.com

Which SUV offers a more comfortable cabin?

Cabin Area 2022 Nissan Pathfinder
Cabin Area 2022 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan

Autoguide.com tells us the Nissan Pathfinder brings 44.3 inches of legroom to the front seats, 35.5 inches for the middle row, and only 28 inches for the third-row occupants. Moving to the Toyota Highlander, we see 42 inches of legroom up front, 41 inches in the middle, and 27.7 inches of legroom in the rear.

If you’re looking for the right SUV for taller passengers, the Pathfinder delivers more headroom across all three rows. The extra space up front in the Pathfinder could put the Nissan in the lead compared to the Toyota Highlander. To be fair, the Highlander does have more legroom in the middle row.

Does the Nissan Pathfinder offer better capability than the Toyota Highlander?

This Green 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is Towing a boat
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Towing | Nissan

Both of these SUVs won’t have a great deal of space behind the third row. The Pathfinder offers 16 cubic feet of cargo area with all three rows of seats upright. This area expands to 45 cubic feet and 80.5 cubic feet with seats folded. The official towing numbers for the Nissan SUV are 6,000 pounds with the right equipment, while FWD models pull up to 3,500 pounds.

You’ll find similar cargo numbers in the Toyota Highlander. This SUV has 16 cubic feet of cargo room with all seats up. This area grows to 48.4 cubic feet and 84.3 cubic feet as you fold seats in the rear. The tow rating for the FWD model of the Highlander is 3,500 pounds, but the AWD version falls short of the Pathfinder at 5,000 pounds.

What features should you find in these SUVs?

a 2022 Nissan Pathfinder off-road.
The 2022 Pathfinder is all-new from the ground-up. Every inch of the vehicle was carefully designed to convey a sense of strength and capability with a strong front face, wide stance, blister fenders and a shorter front overhang (versus the previous design).

Nissan Pathfinder

S Trim

  • Tri-zone climate control
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Push-button starting
  • LED headlights
  • 8-inch infotainment system
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alerts
  • Rear automatic braking
  • High-beam assist

SV Trim

  • Heated front seats
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Remote engine starting
  • Sirius XM satellite radio
  • Nissan ProPILOT Assist
  • SV Convenience Package
    • Towing Package
    • Power liftgate
    • Panoramic sunroof

SL Trim

  • Leather upholstery
  • Heated steering wheel
  • LED fog lights
  • 9-inch infotainment system
  • Power liftgate
  • Rear sunshades
  • Power passenger seat
  • Around View Mirror
  • Premium Package
    • 20-inch alloy wheels
    • Tow package
    • Upgraded stereo system

Platinum Trim

  • 20-inch wheels
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Tow package
  • Upgraded sound system
This 2022 Toyota Highlander could be the SUV you want to drive
2022 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

Toyota Highlander

L Trim

  • Power driver’s seat
  • Tri-zone climate controls
  • 8-inch infotainment system
  • Push-button starting
  • Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ System
    • Pre-Collision System
    • Pedestrian detection
    • Dynamic radar cruise control
    • Lane departure alert
    •  Automatic high beams
    • Lane tracing assist
    • Road sign assist
  • Star Safety System
    • Enhanced vehicle stability control
    • Traction control
    • Anti-lock brakes
    • Electronic brake-force distribution
    • Brake assist
    • Smart stop technology
  • Safety Connect System
    • Emergency assistance
    • Stolen vehicle locator
    • Roadside assistance
    • Automatic collision notification

LE Trim

  • LED fog lights
  • Power liftgate

XLE Trim

  • SoftTex seats
  • Power passenger seat
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Second-row captain’s chairs

XSE Trim

  • 20-inch wheels
  • Black and gray exterior trim
  • Ambient lighting

Limited Trim

  • Heated steering wheel
  • 11-speaker JBL sound system
  • Leather upholstery with heated and cooled seats
  • Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking

Platinum Trim

  • Heated second-row captain’s chairs
  • Digital rearview mirror
  • Head-up display
  • 360-degree cameras
  • 12.3-inch infotainment screen

Should you drive the Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota Highlander?

Both of these SUVs have enjoyed incredible success over the past two decades. The Toyota Highlander is the right vehicle for you if you want the SUV with the most safety features and trim options. On the other hand, if you want a more affordable choice, more towing power, and a newer SUV, check out the Nissan Pathfinder.

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