2020 Nissan Pathfinder – Capable, Roomy, and Not Too Shabby

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder carries on with the new-generation Pathfinder as crossover-SUV introduced about seven years ago. Upgrades between then and now have made it more likeable and competitive, including more ergonomics, while third row access is easy and towing is surprisingly good. There are a lot of high points to the 2020 Pathfinder.

Quick Specs & Info

2020 Nissan Pathfinder Class: Midsized 3-row Crossover
Base Model As Tested: SV 4WD 
Powertrain 3.5L V6, CVT Powertrain 3.5L V6, CVT
Base MSRP $31,980 MSRP as tested $40,280

Overview

There are several reasons to like the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder. It’s a capable and roomy three-row crossover in the midsized category. Most notably, the Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds, an unusually high rating for a crossover-SUV in any category. The Pathfinder’s three rows of seating are useful, though the third row is mostly for kids, but we do note that cargo space isn’t as good as some rivals and doesn’t have the usefulness we’d hoped for.

Every safety gadget in the “advanced” category, such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, are all included in the 2020 Pathfinder regardless of its trim level. That’s a good thing. So is the standard V6 powertrain that produces 284 horsepower at peak. That goes to a smooth, but not very exciting, continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Pathfinder is front-wheel drive as standard with all-wheel drive (AWD) as an option. Nissan labels it 4WD, but those expecting low-range gearing and other off-road goodies will be disappointed.

Most of the Pathfinder’s personality and usefulness are likeable. The infotainment is outdated and not very good compared to others on the market and the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means that many may not like the learning curve associated with the screen either.

In all, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is worth a look, but probably isn’t as competitive as some more newly-updated options on the lot.

Trim Packages

There are four trim levels for the 2020 Pathfinder as well as an appearance package called Rock Creek, introduced last year, that adds more robust bling to the crossover.

  • S – The base package includes a lot for the money spent, including roof racks, tri-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, and USB ports for both front and second-row passengers. Automatic emergency braking and reverse parking sensors are standard as well.
  • SV – Upgrading to this package adds several things for not much in cost. Blind-spot warning, adaptive cruise control, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat are starters. Other conveniences like an auto-dimming rearview mirror are also added.
  • SL – This adds a hands-free rear hatch, heated front and second-row seats, leather upholstery, and navigation.  This is the package we recommend for most buyers.
  • Platinum – The highest-level trim, the Platinum package for the Pathfinder adds a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, premium audio, and the option for a rear entertainment system. The larger wheels, however, make the ride rougher in this package and it’s not as luxurious overall as are many like-priced competitors.

Driving the 2020 Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder in this current generation is a good drive. It’s a solid vehicle with excellent dynamics for everyday use. On the road, it’s generally smooth and predictable, though the drivetrain is never in a hurry. Confidence is good in most situations and the V6 outputs well enough that even freeway onramps and the like are not a problem.

Off the road, the Pathfinder has average chops for getting around a well-worn trail. It’s not what it was back in its SUV days in the 1990s, but still capable enough to get most people to the places they’re likely wanting to go.

Strong Points

  • Good engine and transmission match for everyday driving.
  • Towing is well above average for the segment.
  • Advanced safety systems are standard.

Weaknesses

  • Third row is cramped, even for a midsize crossover.
  • Cargo space is less than expected.
  • Ride and fit-finish quality of the topmost model are not worth the price paid.

Conclusions

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is a competitive option in a field of very competitive offerings. There are newer models from other manufacturers on the market that may be more compelling for some. Others may prefer the more everyday appeal of the Pathfinder instead. We found it a good drive with solid day-to-day ergonomics and good capability.

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An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.
Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.