Budget Buy Under $40,000: Honda Pilot vs Nissan Pathfinder

Need an SUV on a budget? Here are a couple of options, but which one deserves your money? Find out in this Honda Pilot vs Nissan Pathfinder comparison!

Recent Models for Less Money!

netcarshow.com | hondanews.com
netcarshow.com | hondanews.com

Good news! You don’t have to go back very far to find a Honda Pilot or Nissan Pathfinder that is under $40,000. In fact, there are some models as recent as 2022 that are under $40,000. Some of those have damage from previous accidents, however. That’s why it’s always smart to check out the vehicle history reports that go along with vehicles listed.

There are still several recent model years from both the Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot that have clean titles. All are under $40,000. That’s because both of these two popular mid-size SUVs are reasonably priced to begin with. The 2023 Honda Pilot Sport has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $39,150. Meanwhile, a brand-new 2023 Nissan Pathfinder S and SV are both under $40,000, too.

The used 2022 models do seem to be the lower trims, so to get the more luxury trims, you may need to opt for 2021 and 2020 models. For this comparison, however, I’ll use the 2022 Honda Pilot and 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. On a side note, there was no 2021 Nissan Pathfinder. Nissan opted, instead, to focus on the redesign of the 2022 model instead.

Honda Pilot vs Nissan Pathfinder Specs

2022 Honda Pilot 3.5L V6 - hondanews.com
2022 Honda Pilot 3.5L V6 - hondanews.com

No matter which 2022 Honda Pilot you get, there’s a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood. Paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission, the 2022 Pilot makes 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard on most trims, but all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on lower trims and standard on higher trim levels.

Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates that the Pilot gets 20 miles per gallon (MPG) in the city and 27 MPG on the highway with FWD. Switching to AWD gets 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. This V6 isn’t too thirsty, either.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder 3.5L V6 - netcarshow.com
2022 Nissan Pathfinder 3.5L V6 - netcarshow.com

There are a handful of trims to choose from on the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, but they all come with the same 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard across the lineup, but all-wheel drive is optional on 2022 models.

The EPA estimates the 2022 Pathfinder as getting 21 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway with FWD. With four-wheel drive (4WD), the 2022 Pathfinder increases just a little bit, getting 21 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway, totaling 23 MPG combined.

Driving and Performance

2022 Honda Pilot - hondanews.com
2022 Honda Pilot - hondanews.com

The 3.5-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission work well together in the 2022 Honda Pilot. The combination is responsive and provides a smooth ride overall. Shifting is prompt, steering is precise, and the brakes are consistent. The 2022 Pilot is capable of navigating curved and unpaved roads with relative ease. Settings for snow, sand, and mud help tackle dirt roads or more hazardous weather conditions in city or highway driving. All the while the engine runs quietly.

An AWD 2022 Honda Pilot maxes out at 5,000 lbs. when it comes to towing. FWD versions max out at 3,500 lbs. That’s on par with most SUVS in the class, but less than the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder - netcarshow.com
2022 Nissan Pathfinder - netcarshow.com

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder provides passengers with a composed ride. The transmission is usually smooth, and braking is on point. You’re not going to get excitement out of the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, but it handles well. This Pathfinder is stable around curves, though the transmission can be reluctant when passing cars on the Interstate or downshifting going uphill.

Standard 2022 models can tow up to 3,500 lbs. However, if you get a model with the towing package, that limit increases to 6,000 lbs. That’s more than almost every other midsize SUV.

Comfort and Interior

The interior of the 2022 Honda Pilot doesn’t look as modern as some competitors, but it’s simple enough to use, and it is updated with the latest technology. Hard knobs and buttons are used to control temperature settings or audio levels, while the eight-inch touchscreen is used for switching sources, controlling navigation, and displaying other information.

Leather upholstery is used at every trim level. Some of it is perforated leather while others are orange-stitched leather upholstery. The seats are welcoming, shielding passengers from large bumps on the roadway. Passengers are given 40.9 inches of legroom up front, 38.4 inches of legroom in the second row, and 31.9 inches of legroom in the back.

If you are looking at cargo space, the 2022 Honda Pilot is pretty average in that area. With seats in all three rows upright, there is 16.5 cu. ft. to work with. When the third row is folded down, that space expands to 46.8 cu-ft. With both the second- and third-row seats folded, the 2022 Pilot has 83.8 cu. ft. of space.

When revamping the 2022 Pathfinder from previous models, Nissan spent time and effort on making the cabin quieter. The noise-cancelling work paid off because road and wind noise are minimal here. Controls are situated handily on or near the touchscreen, which ranges between eight and nine inches. There are a number of hard knobs to control functions like music and temperature, too.

The seats are cushioned well enough to cover most bumps on the road. Cloth upholstery is standard, however, so you’ll have to get up to at least the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder SL to get leather-covered seats. Power-adjustable front seats become standard at higher trim levels. The lower trims do have several soft-touch surfaces throughout the cabin. 44.3 inches of legroom is given to passengers in the front of the cabin. 35.5 inches are dedicated to the passengers in the second row and 28.0 inches of legroom is reserved for those in the rear seats.

Cargo space is OK in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, but the more space the better, right? Behind the third row is 16.6 cu. ft. of space. The third row, with a 60/40 split, folds down, opening up the space to 45 cu. ft. If both the second and third rows are folded, there is 80.5 cu. ft. of space.

Trims and Features

2022 Honda Pilot TrailSport - hondanews.com
2022 Honda Pilot TrailSport - hondanews.com

If you want options, there are quite a few with the 2022 Honda Pilot. It comes in seven trim levels: the Sport, EX-L, SE, TrailSport, Touring, Elite, and Black Edition.

Sport – The lowest 2022 Pathfinder trim level has 20-inch alloy wheels, an eight-inch infotainment screen (the only size available across the lineup), satellite radio, two USB ports, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and three-zone automatic climate control. Driver assists include forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, a lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

EX-L – The EX-L uses 18-inch alloy wheels. LED headlights and heated mirrors round out the outside features. A power liftgate, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a push-button start add even more convenience to the Pilot. Speaking of convenience, one-touch slide-and-fold second-row seats make adding extra cargo space a breeze! Power-adjustable heated front seats add the luxury at this level. Two more USB ports are added to the Pilot EX-L, this time in the second row.

SE – The 2022 Honda Pilot Special Edition, or SE, utilizes unique black-painted exterior styling elements. It also has roof rails and a hands-free liftgate. Inside is a wireless charging pad for electronic devices.

2022 Honda Pilot - hondanews.com
2022 Honda Pilot - hondanews.com

TrailSport – If you want to do some off-roading, this is probably the trim for you. It uses 18-inch black alloy wheels with all-terrain tires. The suspension is also lifted by 0.6 inches. The TrailSport had attitude, too. It’s got fender flares and orange-stitched leather upholstery. Inside is a one-touch power moonroof.

Touring – A 10-speaker audio, navigation, Wi-Fi, and a rear onboard entertainment system that is complete with a 10.2-inch screen and a BluRay player are all added at this level. The Touring also gets parking sensors

Elite – The exterior of the Elite has been upgraded with rain-sensing wipers. Blue ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, and heated and ventilated front seats are also added at this level.

Black Edition – Finally, there’s the Black Edition. As you can imagine by the name, the Black Edition has exterior elements that make this the perfect vehicle for the Men in Black. Inside, instead of blue, is red ambient lighting.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder - netcarshow.com
2022 Nissan Pathfinder - netcarshow.com

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder offers a few trims as well. It comes as the entry-level S, an SV, a SL, or the top-of-the-line Platinum.

S – The base trim comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring with a rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, rear automatic braking, and a lane departure warning. Proximity keyless entry with a push-button start is also standard. Inside is an eight-inch touchscreen display on the center dash. The cabin is enhanced with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and three-zone automatic climate control.

SV – A remote start, heated exterior mirrors, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control have been added at this level. Heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat are also included. The SV Premium package is also available. A power liftgate and panoramic sunroof come with that package. So does a tow-prep kit that increases towing capacity to 6,000 lbs. Second-row captain’s chairs are available with this package, too.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum - netcarshow.com
2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum - netcarshow.com

SL – The cabin in the SL is upgraded with a nine-inch touchscreen display, integrated navigation, extra USB ports, a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a power liftgate, and a 360-degree surround-view camera. An optional SL Premium package will outfit the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder with a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, the tow-prep kit with 6,000 lb. towing capacity, a wireless phone charging pad, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, heated rear seats, and second-row captain’s chairs.

Platinum – The king of this mountain is the Platinum, which has ambient interior lighting, a digital instrument cluster, even more USB ports, and a traditional 120-volt outlet. It also adds power-folding mirrors, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a hands-free liftgate.

Honda Pilot vs Nissan Pathfinder: The Verdict

2022 Nissan Pathfinder - netcarshow.com
2022 Nissan Pathfinder - netcarshow.com

If you want ease and comfort, then the 2022 Honda Pilot may be the better option. It does come with leather seats and the Honda stow-and-go feature. However, if you want capability and a modern look inside and out, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is your pick.

It doesn’t have quite as much cargo space, but the Pathfinder can tow a lot more, has just as many driver assist features as the Pilot, and gets a little more gasoline to the gallon. The Nissan Pathfinder also had a lower MSRP, so it’s possible you can find a higher Pathfinder trim (with leather seats and all the premium features) for less than a lower Pilot trim.

If you’re still undecided and want to learn even more about the Honda Pilot or Nissan Pathfinder, you’re in luck! We have several articles on both SUVs. The Honda Pilot is included on our list of the Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUVs of 2022 while the Nissan Pathfinder landed a spot on our list of the Best 3-Row Mid-Size SUVs of 2023. You can also read our Head-to-Head: Subaru Ascent vs. Honda Pilot comparison and our in-depth look at the Nissan Pathfinder Generations: Through the Years.

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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