Three-row SUVs are pickup trucks in disguise. People who want them have a few key criteria: you have to have power. You need room for the gear (or people) you haul. More than likely, you'll need the option to towing big loads. Did you know that pickups and full-size SUVs are even often built on the same frame? That says everything you need to know about the sheer size of these vehicles. In this comparison, we'll take on two of the most popular full-size SUV imports. Which one is the better bet for you?
Power: 2018 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder may not look it, but it's a powerhouse right out of the gate. Even the base engine puts up some impressive numbers--we're talking 284 horsepower and 259 pounds per feet of torque. That power comes from a V6 engine paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). That's plenty of power that you'll feel in the passing lane, while still providing a quiet ride for passengers.
The Toyota Highlander has more mundane numbers. The base engine is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that generates only 185 horsepower and 184 pounds per feet of torque. You can opt for the 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque but right away that adds $2,000 to the price tag.
Towing and Hauling: 2018 Nissan Pathfinder
The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder again has the advantage in this contest. The towing capacity is 6,000 pounds, more than enough for a mid-size metal RV or recreational boat. The payload capacity is slated to be 1,700 pounds, which is considerable for this class.
Even if you do upgrade the Toyota Highlander to the better V6 engine option, towing and payload capacity won't be as good as the Pathfinder's. Payload capacity tops out at 1,500 pounds and towing at 5,000 pounds. Both numbers are lower than what the Pathfinder can tow and haul, so this category goes to the Nissan.
Fuel Economy: Tie
The biggest shock when comparing numbers between the Pathfinder and Highlander is gas mileage. You would expect that the SUV that works the hardest would be the thirstiest. But that's not the case. The 2018 Nissan Pathfinder gets 20 city miles and 27 highway miles per gallon, which is good for the class. And, surprisingly, the EPA estimates the Highlander to get the exact same gas mileage: 20/27 mpg. Chalk it up to stellar engineering on Nissan's part. Their modern-day marvel means you can get brawn without getting a guzzler.
In this contest, the winner is clearly the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder. This full-size SUV behaves more like a truck when it comes to performance, but offers you the space and comfort to haul people and their stuff in style.