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A white 2022 Ford Explorer XLT is shown parked in an open dirt area.

2022 Ford Explorer vs 2022 Nissan Pathfinder: Which SUV Is More Versatile?

If you’re searching for a versatile vehicle, you’re not alone. You may be a daily commuter who just so happens to venture off the beaten path on the weekends, or you may be an avid adventurer who also needs a vehicle that’s perfect for your young children. Instead of owning multiple vehicles, each with a specific skill set, wouldn’t it be nice if your vehicle could do it all? That’s where two SUVs stand out in the industry, the Ford Explorer and the Nissan Pathfinder, both recognized for being incomparably versatile, catering to a vast number of drivers and their ever-changing needs. So, when it comes to the 2022 Ford Explorer vs 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, which three-row SUV takes the lead when versatility means everything?

Family Friendly

Every driver who has ever traveled with children knows that the vehicle they choose needs to offer a few key elements in order to ensure enjoyable travels for all on board. One of these elements is space. Whether it’s space for passengers or space for gear, it may seem as though you’re packing more and more into your vehicle every time you travel, and it needs to be able to keep up. That’s where the 2022 Explorer really impresses, with its substantial cabin space and loads of cargo volume to accommodate strollers, hockey gear, diaper bags, school projects, and anything else accompanying you and your kids along the way.

Able to handle up to seven comfortably inside, the Explorer showcases outstanding legroom, providing up to 32.2 inches for rear-seated passengers. With the ability to hold up to 87.8 cu.ft. of cargo, the Explorer can accommodate more travel gear, groceries, and anything else you’re hauling. Plus, with convenient E-Z Entry second-row seats, entering and exiting the vehicle is easy, especially for those seated in the back. The Pathfinder is touted as a family-friendly traveler, and it’s also able to make your family’s ride better; however, you’ll find that it is slightly smaller than the Explorer and can’t offer as much room for your gear. Only able to handle up to 80.5 cu.ft. of cargo, this can prove to be challenging, especially as the kids get older and start traveling with more stuff.

In addition to a spacious and flexible interior space, you’ll also want to be sure that the vehicle you’re transporting your precious cargo in is as safe as possible. In the Explorer, you’ll get to enjoy some of the most advanced safety features through the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite, which offers plenty of tech to stay safe on the road. Plus, with parking assistance, a Rear View Camera, and other add-ons available, you won’t have to worry while you’re traveling with the kids. The Pathfinder also has a nice suite of safety and assistance features via Nissan Safety Shield 360, like Rear Automatic Braking to help you avoid making contact with obstacles behind you and Blind Spot Warning to provide more visibility in hard-to-see areas.

A close up of the rear cargo area of a blue 2022 Ford Explorer is shown.

Adventure Ready

Now that you know that both SUVs are capable of accommodating a family, what about drivers who yearn for the thrill of exploration? The 2022 Ford Explorer proves that it’s ready to take on any journey, with available intelligent 4WD and a Terrain Management System capable of offering control and stability, no matter what type of terrain lies beneath your tires. Switch effortlessly from Deep Snow/Sand to Sport, Slippery to Tow/Haul, so that you remain in control, no matter what lies ahead of you during your travels.

The Pathfinder can also be outfitted with all-wheel drive and seven distinct drive modes to maximize your time behind the wheel on any terrain. It also has a 6,000-lb towing capacity, which makes it easy to take the camper with you during your weekend escapades with the family. Drivers have reported, however, that the Pathfinder’s handling could use some work, especially when attempting to navigate difficult terrain. Opting for all-wheel drive capabilities can help, but overall, there are much better options out there if adventure is on your mind.

Another element that adventurers are looking for is durability, which is exactly what you’ll find with the Explorer. Its Timberline model offers off-road-ready features just waiting to amplify your ride, like a higher stance for increased ground clearance, strong steel underbody skid plates, and a bold design that just screams excitement. You’ll also find that inside, the Explorer is ready for adventure, with ActiveX seating materials, making this the perfect ride for your weekend encounters in nature.

Being able to handle the elements is a key component of an adventurous SUV, and the Pathfinder’s new intimidating presence adds to its allure with off-roaders. A wider stance, bigger tires, and a ruggedness that can’t be ignored radiate from the Pathfinder. It’s not quite equipped to handle some of the most treacherous conditions like the Explorer and other rivals can, but it definitely looks the part.

Your Everyday Drive, Handled

What if you’re looking for the perfect daily driver that can also prove itself off-road and cart around your family comfortably? Few vehicles can accomplish all three feats, but the Explorer and the Pathfinder are doing a great job so far. Although adventure may be on your mind, the daily drive can make or break your experience behind the wheel. Fortunately for the 2022 Explorer, it offers drivers everything they’re looking for in their everyday ride—efficiency, comfort, and a high-quality ride. Opting for its hybrid model will allow you to enjoy outstanding efficiency, able to get up to 27 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, and with its smooth-operating 10-speed automatic transmission, the ride is precise and enjoyable, no matter where you’re traveling.

The daily drive is where the Pathfinder really falls short. Since the hybrid Pathfinder was discontinued, all that’s left is a 3.5L V6, which only gets 21 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway. The ride quality isn’t impressive either, with reports of a lack of excitement during the drive and a lack of steering responsiveness. However, Nissan did finally replace its CVT with a 9-speed automatic, which helps the quality of the ride. It’s quick, too, outperforming many of its rivals, shooting from 0-60 mph in only 6.7 seconds. Although it’s fun to be able to get off the line quickly, drivers want more out of this Nissan staple.

As far as comfort is concerned, both SUVs bring the heat here. The 2022 Ford Explorer boasts a cozy interior cabin, complete with captain’s chairs, massaging seats, premium materials, and more elegant upgrades as you move up the trim levels. Speaking of trims, you’ll find a lot more options than the Pathfinder, ranging from modern simplicity to sophisticated opulence, so you’re able to get the model that speaks to you. Not to be outdone, the Pathfinder showcases climate-controlled front seats, a panoramic moonroof, and a luxury feel radiating from front to back. We wish there were more trims to choose from, though, as it seems like you’re really limited with this model.

A green 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the front during a 2022 Ford Explorer vs 2022 Nissan Pathfinder comparison.

The Most Versatile SUV

When it comes to versatility, which SUV is right for you? It’s clear that the 2022 Ford Explorer offers a lot more to your ride, whether you’re searching for a family hauler, off-roader, or everyday commuter. Its practical interior cabin allows you to accommodate more gear than the Pathfinder, while its adventurous capabilities and durable build prove that it was made for discovery. Having a hybrid in the mix is a big draw for daily drivers too, and with its comfortable cabin and top-quality ride, the Explorer proves that it’s perfect for any traveler.

The Pathfinder is another great pick; however, it’s overshadowed by its rivals, especially when it comes to interior space, ride quality, and ruggedness. In the end, the choice is yours to make. The good news is that there are vehicles out there that can appeal to multiple types of drivers. So, the next time you’re wondering which vehicle could transport your family on a weekend adventure on the trails or which efficient commuter can also handle your kids, you definitely have options. However, our pick lies with Ford.