Childre Nissan Compares 2015 Nissan Pathfinder VS 2015 Ford Explorer Near Dublin, GA

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2015 Nissan Pathfinder

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2015 Ford Explorer

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front, middle and rear seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Pathfinder are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Ford Explorer doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle or rear seat belts.

The Pathfinder (except S/SV) offers an optional Around View ® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the Pathfinder and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all-wheel drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Nissan Pathfinder is safer than the Ford Explorer:





4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Compression

25 lbs.

69 lbs.



5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Stress

137 lbs.

159 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Nissan Pathfinder is safer than the Ford Explorer:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Abdominal Force

120 G’s

135 G’s

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

18 inches

22 inches




Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

661 lbs.

676 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Reliability Comparison

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Pathfinder has a standard 550-amp battery. The Explorer’s 540-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine Comparison

The Pathfinder’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 20 more horsepower (260 vs. 240) than the Explorer’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Pathfinder is faster than the Ford Explorer:


Explorer turbo 4 cyl.

Explorer V6

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

9.2 sec

8.1 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

16.9 sec

16.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.5 MPH

82.9 MPH

88.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Pathfinder gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer:





20 city/27 hwy

17 city/24 hwy



19 city/26 hwy

17 city/23 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Nissan Pathfinder uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Explorer with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Pathfinder has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Explorer (19.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The Pathfinder stops much shorter than the Explorer:



70 to 0 MPH

170 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The Pathfinder has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Explorer doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Pathfinder’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the Explorer (114.2 inches vs. 112.6 inches).

The Pathfinder SL 4x4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Explorer Limited (28.7 seconds @ .6 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .56 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Pathfinder’s turning circle is .2 feet tighter than the Explorer 4WD’s (38.7 feet vs. 38.9 feet). The Pathfinder’s turning circle is 1.1 feet tighter than the Explorer Sport’s (38.7 feet vs. 39.8 feet).

Passenger Space Comparison

The Pathfinder has 6.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Explorer (157.8 vs. 151.7).

The Pathfinder has .8 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more rear legroom, 1.3 inches more third row hip room and 6.3 inches more third row shoulder room than the Explorer.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pathfinder’s middle and third row seats recline. The Explorer’s third row seats don’t recline.

Ergonomics Comparison

If the front windows are left down on the Pathfinder the driver can raise them using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from outside the vehicle using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote. The driver of the Explorer can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Pathfinder has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Explorer doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Consumer Reports rated the Pathfinder’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Explorer’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

When the Pathfinder SL/Platinum is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Explorer’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Pathfinder has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Explorer and isn’t available on the Explorer Base.

The Pathfinder’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Explorer Base doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Economic Advantages Comparison

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pathfinder is less expensive to operate than the Explorer because typical repairs cost much less on the Pathfinder than the Explorer, including $680 less for a water pump, $396 less for an alternator, $2 less for front brake pads, $131 less for front struts, $60 less for a timing belt/chain and $343 less for a power steering pump.

Intellichoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Nissan Pathfinder will be $2467 to $3671 less than for the Ford Explorer.

Recommendations Comparison

The Nissan Pathfinder won two awards in Kiplinger’s 2014 car issue. The Ford Explorer didn't win any award.

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