Car Comparisons

2022 Nissan Pathfinder vs Subaru Ascent Comparison Test

Comparison Data

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum
2022 Subaru Ascent Onyx
Engine Displacement
Engine Cylinders
Peak Horsepower
284 hp
260 hp
Peak Torque
259 lb-ft
277 lb-ft
Fuel Economy
11.6 / 9.2 / 10.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
11.7 / 9.0 / 10.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space
470 / 1,274 / 2,421 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row
458 / 1,193 / 2,061 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row
Base Price
A/C Tax
Destination Fee
Price as Tested
Optional Equipment
$300 – Paint, $300

If you have kids, a couple of dogs, or even a wardrobe full of stylish threads that you have to take everywhere you go to make jaw-dropping first impressions, then you’ve probably been eyeing the various three-row crossovers on the market.

There are tons of options in this class including the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, which recently underwent a massive makeover. What used to be forgettable-looking now appears tough and imposing, and feels far less like an appliance on the go.

Alternatively, there’s the 2022 Subaru Ascent, a three-row that seems simple and basic, but packs a lot of practicality and mechanical ruggedness behind its sheet metal. The newer and bolder Nissan may attract a lot of attention, but the humble and capable Subaru may fit your needs in several ways.


The Ascent looks like a big Forester, which has pros and cons. The squared-off look feels familiar, isn’t distracting, and tells the world this is a large family-oriented vehicle and little else. The trim tested is known as the Onyx, which blacks out a few of the exterior bits and pieces. It doesn’t help the vehicle stand out. It feels as though Subaru just isn’t taking risks with the Ascent, which is a fairly new nameplate for the brand.

The Forester and Outback, two of the longer-lived names in the Subie portfolio, are now offered in flashier trim levels known as Wilderness and Sport. Design-wise, the Ascent lacks the confidence those other models pack.

The 2022 iteration of the Pathfinder is a far cry from the bulbous design of the last generation. Boxy and rugged-looking, Nissan is trying to lean a bit on the off-road legacy of its older SUVs. It has presence and feels like an answer to the bolder-looking Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade. It is also offered in playful, fetching colours like our Obsidian Green Pearl tester. There are even two-tone paint finishes. The only awkward part of the design is the C-Pillar, with a raised painted panel that stands out.

The cabin of the Ascent is also on the simple side, but this approach has usability benefits. While top trim levels of the Ascent boast soft leather upholstery, the true Subaru approach seems to be usability over flashiness. This impression arrives through the large windows, grab handles on the second-row captain’s chairs, and other small but smart details.

Nissan took a different approach to the Pathfinder’s cabin, and it’s one that aims to wow and impress. The atmosphere is far more upscale thanks to premium materials that look and feel nice. The cabin is definitely stylish and clean, though similar to the smaller Nissan Rogue. A few cheap feeling and rickety buttons mar the experience a bit, but overall the cabin feels like a pleasant place to be for a road trip or commute.

Nissan Pathfinder: 8.5/10; Subaru Ascent: 7/10

User Friendliness

Those seeking simplicity will appreciate the Subaru. Big, easily accessible buttons are located right on the dashboard. Large, upright windows provide excellent visibility, and there are handy steps to get into the back or access the roof rack. The infotainment system is relatively easy to get used to, though it hides a few frequently used functions behind submenus. Far from visually elegant, the infotainment eyesore continues with the portrait layout and its approach to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that doesn’t take advantage of all that screen real-estate. Unfortunately, the devices have to be tethered with a cable.

The Pathfinder is not lacking in usability. The first impression is a bit weak, with a nubby electronic shifter, but the modern look rocks several buttons and knobs, which are a boon for ergonomics. The infotainment system is familiar, using a similar setup to the Rogue, and the vehicle also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Top-trim Platinum models even feature Wireless Apple CarPlay, which is convenient.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7.5/10; Subaru Ascent: 7/10


Both vehicles take a safety-first approach, although the Pathfinder keeps several of its more impressive tech features for higher trim levels, while the Ascent includes them all in the very base model. For example, the Ascent comes standard with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high-beam headlights, and a notification for when the vehicle ahead moves when stopped and you take too long to respond. All those features, along with the overall crashworthiness results, add up for the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) to award the Ascent with a Top Safety Pick+ rating, the highest recognition available. Major credit goes to Subaru for including all of these features on its base model, which is more affordable than the base Pathfinder.

The Pathfinder is stingy with its standard safety features, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beams. All the goodies like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, the surround-view camera, and a head-up display are on higher trim models. The 2022 Pathfinder has also failed to score any awards from the IIHS, with poor headlight performance and underwhelming head restraints being a concern to the organization.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7/10; Subaru Ascent: 8/10


Subaru loads the Ascent with safety features, but in terms of in-cabin features or must-have gadgets, it falls short. Everything feels basic, and the only items to get excited about are the heated seats and heated steering wheel, which are lukewarm at best (literally and figuratively, that is).

The Pathfinder feels far more impressive, with a digital dash and an available head-up display. There’s also a massive sunroof, rear sunshades, a wireless charging pad, heated and ventilated seats, and a heated steering wheel that doesn’t need a second guess about whether it’s active or not.

Nissan Pathfinder: 8/10; Subaru Ascent: 6/10


The Pathfinder emerges as the more practical vehicle, with plenty of cargo space and the ability to tow as much as 2,722 kg (6,000 lb). Behind the third row, you’ll find 470 L of cargo space, which expands to 1,274 L when those seats are folded. Fold the second row of seats, too, and the vehicle offers 2,421 L of cargo space.

The Ascent can’t measure up, with a maximum towing capacity of 2,268 kg (5,000 lb), along with just 458 L of space behind the third row, 1,193 L behind the second row, and 2,061 L when both back rows are folded down.

The Pathfinder also feels more practical for passengers, with an accommodating and accessible third row. The Ascent packs a ton of cubbies and cup holders, as well as a massive central storage bin.

Nissan Pathfinder: 8.5/10; Subaru Ascent: 7/10


When it comes to the seats, the Pathfinder clearly feels more comfortable, especially on longer trips. The seats in the Ascent feel unsupportive, which will lead to grouchy glutes and sore spines. On the other hand, the Ascent features a cushier (though vague) ride, while the Pathfinder was a bit more firm and communicative.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7.5/10; Subaru Ascent: 7/10

Driving Feel

The Pathfinder is far more confident on the road, with a reassuring heft that’s felt through the steering wheel. Large and in charge, it always feels like it’s tracking true, especially on highway journeys. Even the braking response is adequate.

In contrast, the Ascent can feel more appliance-like and anonymous. The steering feels surprisingly light, with limited engagement and response. Tracking straight required constant corrections, and even the lane-keeping assist isn’t confidence inspiring, bouncing between lane markings at times.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7.5/10; Subaru Ascent: 6/10


The driving feel of the Ascent is disappointing given how stout the powertrain is. The 2.4L turbocharged boxer engine puts out 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, which is less than the V6 engine in the Pathfinder. However, the continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the Subaru does a great job of making the motor feel lively. It leaps to a start, and the Ascent never felt out of breath or incapable. The only downside is the grating noise from the powertrain, which can overwhelm the cabin.

The Pathfinder has far less drama and joy under its hood. It uses a 3.5L V6 engine with 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that changes gear smoothly, though not with any urgency. Both vehicles come standard with all-wheel drive, and the Pathfinder has a few different drive modes to help navigate tricky conditions, while the Ascent features a single setting to help it plow through the likes of heavy snow and mud.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7/10; Subaru Ascent: 7.5/10

Fuel Economy

Despite the different engines and transmissions, the two crossovers feature an identical combined fuel consumption rating of 10.5 L/100 km. The Ascent is rated slightly better in highway conditions, while the Pathfinder is more efficient in the city. However, in practice, we found the Ascent to be easier to match its official fuel consumption estimates.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7/10; Subaru Ascent: 7.5/10


One glance at the prices suggests the 2022 Subaru Ascent is perfect for shoppers on a budget. It starts at $39,270, including freight compared to $46,198 for the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder. It’s a significant discount considering the Ascent comes with plenty of standard safety features. However, the Pathfinder is more practical and powerful. When it comes to fully equipped models, that price gap narrows, with the Ascent Premier coming in at $53,670 and the Pathfinder Platinum $56,858.

Nissan Pathfinder: 7.5/10; Subaru Ascent: 8/10

The Verdict

This comparison has a different outcome depending on the needs of the shopper. Those on a budget will find even lower trim Ascents should fulfill their needs. It’s a spacious, safe, and efficient SUV. However, those seeking a more premium vehicle with all the bells and whistles won’t be disappointed splurging for the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, which outdoes the Ascent in terms of features, performance, and practicality, not to mention style.