2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2019 Nissan Pathfinder

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Nissan Pathfinder doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the XC90 and Pathfinder have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Pathfinder’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Nissan doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Pathfinder. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Pathfinder’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The XC90’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC90 and the Pathfinder have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available around view monitors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Nissan Pathfinder:

 

XC90

Pathfinder

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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 Volvo XC90 is safer than the Nissan Pathfinder:

 

XC90

Pathfinder

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

51

114

Chest Movement

.7 inches

.9 inches

Hip Force

255 lbs.

457 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

101

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

41 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

18 inches

HIC

209

338

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

42 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

661 lbs.

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

Warranty

The XC90 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Pathfinder’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Pathfinder’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Pathfinder.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the XC90 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Pathfinder’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Pathfinder’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

The XC90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 32 more horsepower (316 vs. 284) and 36 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 259) than the Pathfinder’s 3.5 DOHC V6. The XC90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 116 more horsepower (400 vs. 284) and 213 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 259) than the Pathfinder’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Pathfinder 4WD (59 city/56 hwy MPGe vs. 19 city/26 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Pathfinder 4WD (24 city/27 hwy vs. 19 city/26 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 gets better fuel mileage than the Pathfinder:

 

 

 

MPG

XC90

 

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/29 hwy

 

AWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

 

 

T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4 cyl.

19 city/26 hwy

Pathfinder

 

FWD

3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

 

AWD

3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 17 miles. The Pathfinder must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the XC90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Pathfinder doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Nissan Pathfinder (3 to 5). This means the XC90 produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Pathfinder every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the XC90’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Pathfinder:

 

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 T8

Pathfinder

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

12.13 inches

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Pathfinder:

 

XC90

Pathfinder

 

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

170 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

145 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Pathfinder (275/45R20 vs. 235/65R18).

The XC90 T5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Pathfinder S/SV/SL’s standard 65 series tires. The XC90’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Pathfinder Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Pathfinder’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Pathfinder’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 3.3 inches longer than on the Pathfinder (117.5 inches vs. 114.2 inches).

The XC90’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.7% to 48.3%) than the Pathfinder’s (54.6% to 45.4%). This gives the XC90 more stable handling and braking.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the Pathfinder Platinum 4x4 pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Pathfinder Platinum 4x4 (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 29.2 seconds @ .53 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 2.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Pathfinder (9.4 vs. 7 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 3.5 inches higher than on the Pathfinder (10.5 vs. 7 inches).

Chassis

The XC90 is 3.6 inches shorter than the Pathfinder, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The XC90 has .5 inches more rear hip room, 1.2 inches more third row legroom and 2.9 inches more third row hip room than the Pathfinder.

The front step up height for the XC90 is 3.2 inches lower than the Pathfinder (15.8” vs. 19”). The XC90’s rear step up height is 4.8 inches lower than the Pathfinder’s (16” vs. 20.8”).

Cargo Capacity

The XC90’s cargo area provides more volume than the Pathfinder.

 

XC90

Pathfinder

Second Seat Folded

85.7 cubic feet

79.5 cubic feet

The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the Pathfinder’s in almost every dimension:

 

XC90

Pathfinder

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

19.2”/43.7”/78.9”

Max Width

54.7”

45.9”

Min Width

44.5”

45.4”

Height

35”

31.4”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the XC90’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Servicing Ease

The XC90 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Pathfinder uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The XC90 has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Pathfinder doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Pathfinder SL/Platinum, the XC90 R-Design/Inscription/Excellence has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the XC90 and the Pathfinder have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the XC90 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Pathfinder prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The XC90’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Pathfinder’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically. The Pathfinder SV/SL/Platinum’s rear windows don’t close automatically.

The XC90’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Pathfinder S’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Pathfinder SV/SL/Platinum’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The XC90 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The automatic headlight on/off feature is not available on the Pathfinder S.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the XC90 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the XC90 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC90 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A manual rear sunshade is optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The XC90’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Pathfinder and aren’t offered on the Pathfinder S.

The XC90 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Pathfinder offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The XC90 Inscription/Excellence has standard front air conditioned seats and the XC90 Excellence also has them in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

The XC90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the Pathfinder because it costs $396 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the Pathfinder, including $101 less for a muffler, $3 less for fuel injection and $411 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Pathfinder has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Pathfinder has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Pathfinder has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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