2018 Ford Explorer vs Nissan Pathfinder

August 1st, 2018 by

2018 Ford Explorer vs Nissan Pathfinder

There’s a lot of competition towards the larger end of the SUV market, so manufacturers have to be on top of their game to win buyers over. Let’s see how two of the big guns compare by pitting the 2018 Ford Explorer directly against the Nissan Pathfinder.

Styling: 2018 Ford Explorer

A lot is sometimes made of the Explorer being essentially an eight-year-old design, but nobody would think it if they didn’t already know. There’s inevitably a strong family resemblance to smaller Ford SUVs like the Edge and Escape, but the Explorer is bigger, more upscale, and cuts a much impressive and imposing figure than its smaller siblings.

There’s nothing particularly wrong about the way the Nissan Pathfinder looks on the outside, and like its Ford rival here, the Pathfinder has a strong resemblance to other crossovers in the Nissan family. The problem is the Pathfinder is more than a little bland and nowhere near as attractive as the likes of the Rogue and Rogue Sport and, unfortunately, it’s nowhere near as pleasing on the eye as the Ford Explorer.

2018 Ford Explorer Interior

Interiors: 2018 Ford Explorer

To be fair to its rivals, the Explorer isn’t the smartest or most opulent model in its class when it comes to interiors. There’s certainly plenty of room inside so passengers don’t feel cramped, but the seats are not as well bolstered as they might be and there’s nothing particularly exciting about the design either.

Despite recently benefitting from a mild refresh, the cabin of the Pathfinder remains roomy, functional and practical, without being particularly inviting and luxurious. It’s probably a little utilitarian for some tastes and lower specification models can be more than a little sparse, so another round goes to the Ford.

2018 Ford Explorer On the Road

Engines and Performance: 2018 Ford Explorer

An excellent lineup of engines is waiting for buyers in the Explorer, which includes a modern turbo-four, a naturally aspirated V-6, and a truly outstanding 3.5-liter V-6 twin-turbo. Honestly, there’s no such thing as a below-par engine in the Explorer lineup.

Nissan has updated the ageing V-6 in the Pathfinder, now with a reasonably capable 284 horsepower. The Nissan comes equipped with a CVT transmission that’s now been surpassed by more modern rivals, and a lack of any choice hands this round to the Explorer too.

Fuel Economy: 2018 Nissan Pathfinder

The Ford has what buyers might expect to be a fuel-efficient engine option in the shape of that turbo-four. But the 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway is good, but not exceptional. In front-wheel drive format, the Nissan is rated as good as 20/27/23 mpg, which perhaps surprisingly gives this round to the Pathfinder and its V-6.


If you could have a Nissan Pathfinder for much less money than an equivalent 2018 Ford Explorer, it might be tempting. But as there’s only about a thousand dollars between them at the entry level, it’s hard to see why anyone would shun the Ford in favor of the Nissan.

Posted in New Comparison