2020 Subaru Ascent vs Nissan Pathfinder Comparison in Olympia, WA

The Subaru Ascent is a recent addition to the Subaru lineup, and it's already become one of the more popular vehicles! This three-row SUV is the biggest Subaru model in the United States, and it's perfect for larger families or those who simply need more room in their vehicles. Of course, it's not the only three-row SUV on the market; the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder, for example, is a popular rival. But when you compare the two, you'll see why we think Subaru is the way to go.

Subaru Ascent interior

Subaru Ascent vs Nissan Pathfinder: Design

The Subaru Ascent and the Nissan Pathfinder share a number of design features; after all, they are both three-row SUVs. But the 2020 Pathfinder comes standard with seating for only seven people. Choose the 2020 Subaru Ascent and there are seats for up to eight! They have similar passenger volumes, but the Subaru Ascent has considerably greater maximum cargo capacity. Fold down the second and third rows of seating in the Subaru Ascent and you'll get up to 86.5 cubic feet cargo space. Do the same in the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder and the most you'll get is 79.5 cubic feet. The design of the Subaru Ascent is also geared towards comfort, with nineteen standard cup and bottle holders (the Pathfinder lags behind with fourteen).

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Subaru Forester with boat in tow parked by a lake.

Subaru Ascent vs Nissan Pathfinder: Performance

When it comes to performance, the engines in the Subaru Ascent and the Nissan Pathfinder may seem similar. The Nissan Pathfinder has a bit more horsepower, and the Subaru Ascent has a bit more torque. But the design makes the drive drastically different. The engine in the Pathfinder is a V6, while the Ascent has a SUBARU BOXER® engine. The flat design and symmetrical layout of the BOXER® allow it to be placed lower in the engine compartment, giving the Subaru Ascent a lower center of gravity for improved balance. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive also comes standard in every Subaru Ascent. The Nissan Pathfinder, by comparison, is a two-wheel drive vehicle. While four-wheel drive is available, it will end up costing more. And, the Subaru Ascent gets better gas mileage in the city than even the front-wheel drive Nissan Pathfinder!

Subaru Ascent driving down rainy road

Subaru Ascent vs Nissan Pathfinder: Safety

Both of these SUVs are safe, but the Subaru Ascent goes above and beyond. The standard all-wheel drive provides extra traction on wet roads and other slick surfaces, for one thing. The Subaru Ascent also offers LED Steering Responsive Headlights, which the Nissan Pathfinder lacks. These headlights can track in the direction of your turn, making it easier to see corners in the dark. The experts agree on the safety of the 2020 Subaru Ascent: it received five out of five stars in the Overall, Frontal Crash, and Side Crash ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder received five stars in the Overall and Side Crash categories, but only four stars in the Frontal Crash category.

Blind Spot Warning on a Subaru Ascent

Subaru Ascent vs Nissan Pathfinder: Driver Assistance Technology

When it comes to driver assist technology, we admit that both vehicles have a number of outstanding features. Standard Pre-collision Braking can make accidents less severe, or even prevent them altogether. Both vehicles also offer Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. But the Subaru Ascent comes standard with a number of features that aren't available at all in the Nissan Pathfinder! For instance, the Subaru Ascent can be had with lane departure and sway warning while the midsize SUV from Nissan doesn't offer that level of driver assistance. And, for those with driveways where things sometimes get left behind the vehicle, the latest Subaru Ascent can also be had with reverse automatic braking. It's just one more advantage you won't find in a 2020 Nissan Pathfinder.

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Subaru Ascent vs Nissan Pathfinder: Value

The Subaru Ascent and Nissan Pathfinder are quite close in price. The starting MSRP of the Subaru Ascent is just a little over $300 more than that of the Nissan Pathfinder. But keep in mind that the Pathfinder is a front-wheel drive vehicle. To get the extra traction of four-wheel drive, you'll have to pay more. This makes the AWD Subaru Ascent a better choice already. Add in the greater cargo space, increased seating capacity, and extra driver assist features and it's clear that the 2020 Subaru Ascent is a perfect 3-row SUV for your family.

2020 Subaru Ascent2020 Nissan Pathfinder
$31,995Starting MSRP*$31,680
277 lb.-ft.Torque259 lb.-ft.
21 City / 27 HighwayFuel Efficiency (MPG)20 City / 27 Highway
All-Wheel DriveDrivetrainTwo-Wheel Drive (4WD Available)
5,000 lbs.Maximum Towing Capacity6,000 lbs.
8Seating Capacity7
5 StarsNHTSA Frontal Crash Test Score4 Stars
Standard FeatureAdaptive Cruise ControlAvailable Upgrade
86.5 cu. ft.Maximum Cargo Volume79.5 cu. ft.

*Manufacturer's suggested retail price does not include destination and delivery charges, tax, title and registration fees. Destination and delivery includes handling and inland freight fees and may vary in some states. Prices, specifications, options, features and models subject to change without notice.