2022 Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander Review: Which One Is The New Crossover King?

Toyota's Highlander is one of the most popular three-rows around, but the Nissan Pathfinder brings a host of changes to the table

This is one of the most competitive segments in the industry.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander fight pits a revitalized opponent against the current sales champion. I agree, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander battle may seem like a yawner to some. These are not off-roaders (although Nissan likes the image) and neither are invigorating to drive either. The mid-size, three-row segment is the domain of the family who needs space, with a whisper of the adventurous spirit, depending on which model you’re looking at.

This class caters to vehicles that are not only comfortable for families, but are extremely utilitarian. That means they can haul the goods, in all weather conditions, comfortably – with little drama. Both of these vehicles excel at that, and they are a snap to drive daily as well. Many of their numbers are close, especially on paper, but they feel very different.

Power and performance

The 2022 Toyota Highlander has a few powertrains to choose from, including a hybrid, but we got our hands on a V6 all-wheel drive (AWD) model that directly competes against the Nissan. That 3.5-liter V6 makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, it returns an EPA rating of 23 mpg combined. Its real trick is the new “torque vectoring” AWD system which actually works. It sends up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels, and splits the power to whichever rear wheel needs power. This helps on and off road, but it truly is a boon for better on-road handling.

For the most part, the “Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD” system is seamless, but you also have a Multi-Terrain Select terrain mode. This system changes the throttle mapping and traction control system for various types of terrain. It’s not for off-roading, and there is no tow mode.

How does the Pathfinder compare?

Nissan opted to keep their old 3.5-liter V6 in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. While making 284 hp and 259 lb-ft isn’t outstanding (neither is its 22 mpg combined) it is still plenty quick. That has to do with the gearing of the all-new nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s not only world’s better than the former continuously variable transmission (CVT), it’s smoother than many rivals. The Intelligent 4WD system has a seven-position Drive and Terrain Mode Selector. It’s actually an AWD system, but it’s pretty good. Not only can you keep power running 50/50 front and rear (at slow speeds), but there is an actual tow mode as well.

The Nissan Pathfinder tows up to 6,000 lbs, the Highlander is rated at a maximum of 5,000 lbs. While the Pathfinder is marketed to be more rugged than some in this class, it’s off-road measurements fall short of the Toyota Highlander. Seriously, neither should be doing any boulder bashing.

Both vehicles are very close in weight, yet they handle their mass differently. The Nissan, with its longer wheelbase, seems to be a slightly more comfortable ride. The Toyota, on the other hand, feels far more athletic – at least in the Platinum which gives you wide/stiff rubber and that trick AWD system. Honestly, the overall feel of the cars boils down to their interiors.

Interior and cargo volume

On paper, the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder vs. Toyota Highlander are closely matched. Oddly, while the all-new Pathfinder is larger on paper, the Highlander can hold more cargo behind the first and second row of seats. Maximum cargo space (with both rows folded) has the Highlander at 84.3 cubic feet, and the Pathfinder at 80.5 cubic feet. Behind the second row, the Highlander has over three cubic feet more space, but the Pathfinder has about a half-cubic foot of space behind the third row.

Actually, the seating is where the Nissan truly shines. It has the most usable space, the most comfortable seats, and the easiest to use seating as well. Being that these are family rides that are dependent on easy to use, comfortable interior spaces, that’s where Nissan makes up for other limitations.

This is a close one folks.

In the video below, you will see what makes these two vehicles different, and which vehicle might be right for you: