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2022 Toyota Highlander vs Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Toyota Highlander vs Nissan Pathfinder

2022 Highlander vs Pathfinder - How Do They Stack Up? Which is Better?

Many people love what SUVs have to offer and prefer to have models with three rows of seats instead of two. The Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder both have that additional row of seats, making them ideal for a select group of buyers. In addition to being spacious, these SUVs are capable and equipped with advanced technology. Either of them would be a good choice, and this overview should hopefully provide prospective customers with the information they need to narrow down their choices.

The Powertrain

Out of 11 Toyota Highlander trims, five are hybrid models. Hybrid systems use electric motors along with 2.5-liter gas-powered engines. Net horsepower is 243.

In comparison, non-hybrid Highlanders run on 3.5-liter V6 engines. These engines are pretty powerful, capable of generating a total of 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque.

As expected, there is a significant difference when it comes to fuel efficiency. A regular Highlander can earn up to 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway. This is a little better than what the Nissan Pathfinder can achieve, which is 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway. The numbers for the hybrid Highlander increase to 36 and 35 miles per gallon for city and highway driving, respectively.

With either type of Toyota powertrain, there is a choice of getting front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The hybrids have electronic on-demand all-wheel drive, while the non-hybrids have a pretty typical all-wheel-drive system. Some trims, though, have a more advanced program called dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive. It can deliver more engine torque to either the left or right wheel, depending on the conditions and which wheel has more traction. Further, the XSE has sport-tuned suspension to improve its handling, especially when cornering.

Automatic transmissions are the only option with the Toyota Highlander. The hybrids have electronically controlled continuously variable transmissions, and the standard models have direct shift eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmissions.

There are several drive modes for people to consider using. Normal mode is the default mode, and honestly, some people may never deviate from this. There is the option of switching to Sport or Eco mode if someone wants to pump up the level of aggression or take things down a notch in favor of efficiency. Hybrids have EV mode so that they can rely on electric power for limited stretches of road, and non-hybrids with front-wheel drive have Snow mode to increase their traction.

If a hybrid has all-wheel drive, it would have Trail mode in addition to the other driving modes. If a non-hybrid has all-wheel drive, it would get to have the Multi-Terrain Select dial. This dial has settings for Mud and Sand as well as Rock and Dirt.

There are many similarities that can be found with the Nissan Pathfinder. Like the traditional Highlander, it has a 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Nissan's engine can generate 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque, so it comes close to what the Highlander's engine can do, even if doesn't quite hit the same mark.

The Pathfinder can have front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and it uses a nine-speed automatic transmission. It comes standard with a manual mode and paddle shifters that have been mounted onto the steering wheel.

The Nissan, too, has different driving modes. Its front-wheel-drive models have five modes, and the all-wheel-drive models have seven modes. They include Mud and Rut mode, Sand mode, and Tow mode. Like the Toyota, the Pathfinder has Sport and Eco modes so that drivers can change things up as their mood changes.

Nissan and Toyota have given both of these SUVs Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. The first program can limit speed when going down steep descents, and the second can hold pressure on the brakes while the driver switches from the brake to the gas pedal.

Trims in the Pathfinder lineup all have the same type of suspension. It does its job well, especially since there are front and rear stabilizer bars and an independent multi-link system in the rear. For anyone looking for it, there is not a Pathfinder trim that has a sport-tuned suspension like what's found in the Highlander lineup.

If those interested in towing cargo with one of these three-row SUVs, either vehicle should be able to handle most jobs. The Highlander has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. However, the hybrid versions can only tow up to 3,500 pounds. With the Pathfinder, the entry-level trim can tow 3,500 pounds as well, but the others can tow up to 6,000 pounds.


With all of their power, these vehicles can be a pleasure to drive in a variety of environments. Especially if they have all-wheel drive, they can navigate their way through rough terrain with some ease.

Keep in mind that they are fairly large vehicles. The Highlander has an overall length of 194.9 inches, and the Pathfinder is a touch longer, with an overall length of 197.7 inches. They may have a bit of trouble in smaller spots, but they should do fine in most parking areas.

Neither SUV has a particularly large third row. In fact, it may be uncomfortable for taller riders to sit in the back. The Highlander has 27.7 inches of third-row leg room, and the Pathfinder has 28 inches of third-row leg room.

Fortunately, there's more space in the second row of the cabins. The Highlander has a generous amount of space in this row, with 41 inches of leg room. In the Pathfinder, there's actually not a ton of room, but it's certainly a decent amount, with there being 35.5 inches of leg room. Select Highlander and Pathfinder trims can have two captain's chairs in this middle row instead of bench seats. This would bring total seating capacity down to seven instead of eight, but it does open the cabin a bit.

The driver and front passenger in these vehicles will have plenty of room to spread out. The Pathfinder has 44.3 inches of first-row leg room, and the Highlander has 42 inches of first-row leg room. The Highlander comes standard with a power-adjustable driver's seat, which is a nice perk. It can have fabric, SofTex, or leather upholstery, and it can have heated and ventilated front seats, a heated second row, and a heated steering wheel.

In the Pathfinder, the entry-level trim has a manually adjustable driver's seat, but all the rest have power-adjustable seats. Cloth, leather, and Semi-Aniline leather are the options for upholstery. Heated front seats come with most trims, and higher trims can have ventilation as well. Those higher trims can also have heated second-row seats and a heated steering wheel. Select Pathfinders can even have power-adjustable steering columns.

The two trims have automatic climate control systems with three different zones. This helps people in various parts of the cabin stay comfortable. In addition, they come standard with smart key systems and push button start. These types of features are very practical, and an available moonroof can add to the sophistication of these vehicles. A panoramic moonroof is available on the Pathfinder, and the Highlander can either have a regular power moonroof or a panoramic one.

Carrying cargo is something that these models can do without an issue. Maximum cargo volume in the Highlander is 84.3, and in the Pathfinder it's 80.5 cubic feet. If all three seats are in use, there would still be 16 cubic feet of storage space behind the Highlander's back seats and 16.6 cubic feet of cargo volume in the back of the Pathfinder.

Both vehicles start out with eight-inch touchscreens, but there are bigger options. The larger touchscreen on the Pathfinder measures nine inches, and the optional one on the Highlander is a 12.3-inch version. With the two vehicles, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM, and Bluetooth are standard, with the Highlander also having Amazon Alexa. Higher trims can be upgraded with navigation.

All trims of the Toyota SUV have Wi-Fi capability. With the Pathfinder, all trims except the first one in the lineup have this feature. In regards to the sound system, the lower Highlander trims have six speakers, while the higher ones can have 11 JBL speakers. Similarly, the Pathfinder starts out with six speakers. Its higher trims have 13 Bose speakers.

With the possibility of having many people in the cabins of these two vehicles, it's important that passengers have access to charging ports. There's good news for anyone who may be concerned with this. The Highlander has five USB ports and available wireless charging. Wireless charging is available with the Pathfinder, too, and it can have four, five, or fix USB ports, depending on the trim.


Toyota has given the Highlander a nice set of driver-assist technologies, just as Nissan has done for the Pathfinder. These vehicles have lane departure warning along with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. The Highlander has lane keep assist, so it can correct its steering if necessary to stay in position. Most of the Pathfinder's trims have this same program, but the base trim does not.

The Highlander's basic safety package comes with road sign assist. Only the higher Pathfinder trims have this mechanism, which can be useful if someone misses a road sign while busy paying attention to other things.

On the other hand, the base trim of the Nissan has blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear sonar, and rear automatic braking. This is great for when the driver can't objects in certain areas around the vehicle. The Highlander can have blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, but its entry-level trim does not have these components. It can have a front and rear parking assist program that comes with automatic braking.

A head-up display is available on each of the SUVs, as is an all-around monitor as opposed to the standard rearview monitor. These are high-end components that can make a difference in keeping people aware of their surroundings and possible safety concerns.

Which Has the Best Value?

By a small margin, the Pathfinder is more affordable. Its first trim costs $34,640, whereas the Highlander starts off with a cost of $35,855. The price of the Highlander slowly creeps up with higher trims. Since there are 11 total options, there are a lot of small increments. The most expensive Highlander is the Platinum, which costs approximately $48,000. If anyone wants a hybrid version of that Platinum, the cost would be $49,510.

There are only four Pathfinder trims. The jump from one trim to the next is a little more dramatic than what's seen with the Highlander. The second trim is the SV, and it has some attractive features like heated front seats and remote engine start. Cost then jumps up to over $40,000 with the SL, a trim that has leather seats and navigation. The most premium Pathfinder is the Platinum, coming in at more than $47,000.

The Pathfinder Platinum rides on 20-inch wheels and has a panoramic moonroof and all the high-tech equipment that was mentioned already. The Highlander Platinum also has a panoramic moonroof and 20-inch wheels. It has a very comparable tech package to its Pathfinder counterpart, and like the Pathfinder it comes standard with second-row captain's chairs.

Which is Better?

These vehicles are very evenly matched. They have the same size engine, but the Pathfinder is better when it comes to towing. However, the Highlander comes as a hybrid model, and this may sway a lot of customers since gas expenses can start to add up over time.

Aside from this, the Highlander has a bit more second-row leg room. The opposite is true for third-row leg room. People might have to see these cabins for themselves to decide which one would be more comfortable for their passengers.

The Pathfinder has a slightly more comprehensive safety package, but the larger touchscreen of the Highlander may attract attention from buyers as well. The Nissan model is a bit larger than the Highlander and has more cargo space behind its third row, but it actually has slightly less total cargo capacity.

All of these differences are minor. If it comes to budget, the Pathfinder will likely win the matchup. If efficiency is important, the Highlander comes out ahead. It's almost too close to call in other areas.

View Comparisons for other Years:

2021 Toyota Highlander VS Nissan Pathfinder
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