Ford Explorer vs Nissan Pathfinder

Ford Explorer vs Nissan Pathfinder

When you're looking for an SUV with ample passenger room and impressive performance, you're likely looking at two of the most popular models: the 2018 Ford Explorer and the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder. But which of these capable road warriors will win your affection? Check out our side-by-side comparison guide before you decide.

Will You Love the Look?

The Explorer is not new to the SUV scene--in fact, it's been around in its current fifth-generation form for about seven years. However, Ford has tweaked its styling to keep it fresh, and the result is a thoroughly modern, sporty, and attractive vehicle. The 2018 Ford Explorer has the look of an SUV without resorting to boxy, long, ladder frame construction--it gives you everything you'd want in a stylish crossover.

The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder looks like a rugged, aggressive SUV. New front and rear bumpers, in addition to its more rounded approach, give this SUV a different look from that of the more angular Explorer. There's nothing wrong with the Pathfinder's look, but it could be seen as bland when compared to the Explorer's youthful and exciting design. We'll give this one to the Explorer.

Does Size Really Matter?

Perhaps surprisingly, the dimensions of the Ford Explorer are remarkably close to those of the Pathfinder. The Explorer is 0.2 inches shorter than the Pathfinder front-to-back, 0.6 inches taller and 1.6 inches wider. The Explorer has an extra 0.8 inches of ground clearance, which will come in handy if you're into off-roading or weekend adventuring.

We love the Pathfinder's 42.2 inches of front head room and 41.7 inches of second row leg room (more generous than the Explorer's), but its 120 cu.-ft. of passenger volume falls well short of the Ford's 151.7 cu.-ft. When you buy an SUV, you're buying the value of more passenger room--so this round goes to the Explorer as well.

Who Gives You More Power?

The Ford Explorer lineup offers three engine options to buyers, with the standard 3.5-liter V-6 unit offering a very healthy 290 horsepower. If you're looking for fewer horses but better fuel economy, opt for the smaller but still spunky 2.3-liter turbo. The big kahuna of engine might comes in the final option, a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost with a whopping 365 horsepower.

Nissan adopts a take-it or leave-it approach with engines, offering one unit across all versions of the Pathfinder. Their 284 horses are nothing to sneeze at, and the engine is modern and totally capable of taking you where you want to go. But if you're a person who likes options and wants more power, you're going to opt into the 2018 Ford Explorer instead.

Which Option Will Your Budget Love?

The base model of the 2018 Ford Explorer line comes well equipped, with four more options (XLT, Limited, Sport and Platinum trims) available, but a vehicle of this caliber and quality doesn't come free. Most Explorer buyers are likely to go for the base model or XLT trim, which means a starting MSRP in the mid 30s.

When you opt for an equivalent trim in the Pathfinder, you'll likely choose the front-wheel drive SV which comes in about $1,000 less than the Explorer XLT. You won't pay a ton more for the four-wheel drive option, and even the top-of-the-line Pathfinder Platinum will cost you nearly $10K less than the Explorer Platinum. If budget is your single criteria for choosing a vehicle, you may find the Nissan a more comfortable fit.

Learn More about the Ford Explorer

Side by side, the 2018 Ford Explorer wins against the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder in terms of performance, styling, and passenger room. Test drive the Explorer yourself--then decide.

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