2023 Nissan Pathfinder vs 2023 Kia Sorento

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  • 2023 Nissan Pathfinder

    A grey 2023 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek is angled left.

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    2023 Kia Sorento

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    So many SUVs are on the market today, and many claim to be the best at everything. But let's be honest, nothing can be the best at everything, so why not find the one that's best for you? Comparing your options is a great way to see the sort of features that are typical and the sort of features that set an SUV apart. For example, let us put the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder vs 2023 Kia Sorento, two standout models in the midsize SUV segment.

    Cars are usually judged by comfort, fuel efficiency, and performance, while trucks are typically considered for their capabilities with towing and hauling, off-roading, or just general hard work. Now SUVs fall right in the middle, with the ability to excel at one or many of these qualities. An SUV will most likely never be able to tow as much as a truck or get quite the same gas mileage as a sedan, but that doesn’t mean they can't come close. For instance, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder offers a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 lbs.

    The towing potential is partly thanks to the powerful engine equipped in the 2023 Pathfinder. The Kia Sorento offers two engine options, allowing you to get up to 3,500 lbs of towing capability when properly equipped. Whether you decide to tow or haul, both SUVs offer safety features, such as blind spot detection and lane assist. When you want to take a trip with the family, you can enjoy luxuries like heated seats, leather appointments, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Let's take a look at how these two trucks compare to one another.

  • Performance

    A white 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the rear at an angle.

    To put the "utility" in sport utility vehicle, an SUV should be able to function as more than just a mode of transportation. Towing, hauling, and off-roading are a few things that prompt people to choose an SUV over a sedan, which is why the performance of an SUV matters. Horsepower and torque play a major role in how much you can expect from your SUV. That is why we are comparing the performance and towing capabilities of the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder against the 2023 Kia Sorento.

    What to Expect From the Nissan Pathfinder

    The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is available in five trim levels, which are available in front-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive, including the S, SV, SL, and Platinum trims and the four-wheel drive Rock Creek, which is the newest edition to the line-up. All five trim levels sport a V6 Direct-Injection 3.5-liter engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Together, the V6 and 9-speed provide smooth yet powerful acceleration and plenty of control when you need it most. A manual shift mode paddle shifter is also standard and offers a more hands-on driving experience, along with quick shifting between gears.

    The V6 delivers 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque with the Rock Creek capable of pumping out a maximum of 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque for even more towing and off-road capability. The four-wheel drive models feature Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive and are a fantastic choice for those who want to get the most out of their Pathfinder. Intelligent Four-Wheel Drive takes it up a notch by including unique drive modes designed to take on any terrain. The Drive and Terrain Mode switch lets the driver match the road conditions with seven modes that include Standard, Eco, Snow, Sport, Sand, Mud/Rut, and Tow.

    Towing is no problem in the Pathfinder, ranging from 3,500 lbs on the S, SV, and SL and maxing out at 6,000 lbs on the Rock Creek and Platinum trims. The SV and SL trims can also swing 6,000 lbs when properly equipped. That's more than enough to load up for a hard day's work or better yet, hitch the toys and ditch the work.

    Will the Kia Sorento Meet Expectations?

    The 2023 Kia Sorento offers plenty of options with eight different trims to choose from. Options include the front-wheel drive S, and EX, the all-wheel drive X-Line S, X-Line EX, SX Prestige, and X-Line SX Prestige, as well as the front-wheel drive with optional all-wheel drive LX and SX trims. The LX, S, and X-Line S AWD trims are equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. The remaining trims are equipped with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine that offers a bit more with 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque.

    The LX, S, and X-Line S AWD trims are equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the other trims are paired with an 8-speed Dual-Clutch transmission. A Dual-Clutch transmission is designed with two clutches, allowing it to switch gears quicker than a traditional automatic or manual transmission. These transmissions still behave like an automatic, with a computer controlling gear switches. The all-wheel drive trims feature torque vectoring, which is a system that improves handling, control, and stability.

    The Sorento features a Drive Mode Select that offers five drive modes on the front-wheel drive trims and six on the all-wheel drive trims. The driver can choose between Eco, Sport, Comfort, Smart, and Custom, with the addition of Snow on all-wheel drive. Despite not having a tow mode, the Kia Sorento still has some towing capabilities. The LX, S, and X-Line S AWD trims have a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs, and the remaining trims have a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs.

    Who Offers the Best Capabilities?

    When we place the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder against the 2023 Kia Sorento, it is hard not to see a clear winner. Despite the Kia Sorento offering two engine options, one of which is a turbo, both options still rate lower than the V6 in the Nissan Pathfinder. Turbochargers have the potential to crank out more power from a smaller engine size, however, that is not entirely the case here. The V6 in the Pathfinder produces 284 hp on the low end and 295 on the high end, while the Sorento only manages 191 hp on the low end and 281 on the high end. That is definitely enough horsepower to make an impact on performance.

    In terms of torque ratings, the Kia Sorento pulls ahead slightly, but not enough to make a real difference. The Nissan Pathfinder manages between 259 to 270 lb-ft of torque, while the Kia Sorento rates at 181 to 311 lb-ft of torque. As we can see, though the Sorento has a higher torque rating for the trims with the turbo engine, those with the 2.5-liter engine come in under that of the Nissan. Horsepower and torque aren't the only noticeable differences between the models. Another notable advantage of the Nissan Pathfinder is the available off-road drive modes. The Pathfinder has drive modes designed for diverse terrains, such as mud and sand. In comparison, the Kia Sorento does possess a snow mode, just as the Nissan Pathfinder does, but it does not have any other off-road settings.

    Torque and horsepower also play a role in a vehicle’s towing abilities, which is why we see such a drastic difference in towing capacity between the two SUVs. The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder has nearly double the towing capacity of the Kia Sorento. So, if you are looking for a vehicle to tow trailers, recreational equipment, and other fun stuff, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder definitely comes out on top. It should also be mentioned that the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder comes standard with Trailer Sway Control to increase safety when trailering. Plus, the Rock Creek and Platinum trims come standard with a transmission oil cooler to help keep the vehicle running smoother when towing. This feature is also an optional add-on for the SV and SL trims.

    In the end, the Nissan Pathfinder is simply better equipped to handle towing and off-road terrain. Plus, with its paddle shifter and more impressive horsepower, the Pathfinder is also a strong contender in the performance category. Ultimately, the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder has better capabilities.

  • Safety

    A red 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the side during a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder vs 2023 Kia Sorento comparison.

    Safety matters whether you are considering an SUV because you have a family to transport or you are looking for a vehicle that can handle the great outdoors. Safety and driver assistance features can make a huge difference in how safe you are on the road and your confidence in varying driving conditions. With that in mind, let's see how the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder fairs against the 2023 Kia Sorento when safety is on the line.

    Playing It Safe in the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder

    A long-standing representation of safety and protection, the symbol of the shield means strength and comfort. That's why Nissan chose to call their advanced suite of safety features the Nissan Safety Shield 360. This safety suite comes standard on all Pathfinder trims and includes Blind Sport Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist, Rear Automatic Braking, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection. From front to rear, the Nissan Pathfinder is covered, ensuring you are prepared for whatever lies ahead or behind.

    In addition to the Nissan Safety Shield 360, all Pathfinder trims also come standard with Intelligent Driver Alertness, which is a great feature that helps the driver stay focused on the road and aware of their surroundings. Rear sonar sensors also help with rear awareness and come standard across trim levels. Front sonar sensors are an available feature that increases driver awareness at the front end.

    Other optional safety features that can improve driver safety and confidence are Intelligent Blind Spot Intervention, Intelligent Around View Monitor, and Traffic Sign Recognition. These features function as they sound, such as Blind Spot Intervention detecting blind spots and applying the brakes if needed. And how Traffic Sign Recognition identifies traffic signs and displays them for convenience.

    Additional features come standard on select trims, like ProPILOT Assist and ProPILOT Assist with Navi-Link. ProPILOT uses a combination of sensors and cameras, along with other tools, to provide assistance on the road, much like a highly advanced cruise control. The program can slow your vehicle and even bring it to a complete stop. The Pathfinder features many other standard and optional safety features to keep everyone on board safe and confident about the journey ahead.

    The Safety Features of the 2023 Kia Sorento

    The 2023 Kia Sorento features several advanced safety features to improve safety and convenience. The first is a set of tools called Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist technologies. This group includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist along with Pedestrian Detection. These features can detect vehicles and people in front of the Sorento and help avoid potential collisions, and come standard on all Kia Sorento trim levels.

    Another similar feature includes the standard Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, which monitors traffic behind the vehicle and will apply the brakes if needed to avoid a collision. Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist are also standard, which will alert you if you are beginning to drift out of your lane and provide corrective steering if you are outside of it.

    Another standard safety feature is Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist-Parallel Exit. This feature displays a feed of your blind spot to the instrument cluster and will engage the brakes if action is not taken. Safe Exist Assist is another standard feature that is in a way similar to a blind spot monitoring system. It detects hazards outside the car and will alert everyone in the car to the hazards prior to exiting. This feature can also initiate child safety locks if needed.

    Moving up to the EX trim level and higher, the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist technologies become more of a suite with the addition of Cyclist Detection and Junction Turning Assist. Junction Turning Assist is a collision warning system that goes into effect when turning through an intersection. To see an aerial view of the SUV and get assistance with parking, an available 360-degree Surround View Monitor is available.

    Who’s the Safest of Them All?

    The Nissan Pathfinder and The Kia Sorento have many of the same standard safety features, such as a detection system to help avoid or lessen the impact of a collision as a result of a vehicle or a pedestrian detected in front or rear of the vehicle. Both models have a program that addresses the vehicle exiting their lane and a warning for vehicles detected within the blind spot of the vehicle.

    However, the similarities end there, with the Nissan Pathfinder pulling ahead. The Pathfinder has many more safety features than the Sorento that are either standard or optional. Features like Intelligent Driver Alertness will monitor the driver’s wheel movements, and if the pattern indicates that the driver is not showing alertness, it will provide a gentle buzz to draw the driver’s attention back to the road. A Head-Up Display and a Tilt Down when reversing feature function as safety and convenience and come standard on select trims.

    The only feature that appears to be on the Kia Sorento and not the Nissan Pathfinder is a specific program for Junction Turning Assist. Though the ProPILOT Assist with Navi-Link on the Pathfinder does map out junctions, it doesn’t specifically call attention to a potential collision. However, ProPILOT does adjust the speed of the vehicle to go with the flow of traffic for a more comfortable and safe driving experience. While the Sorento offers notable safety features, the Pathfinder wins with its diverse array of standard and available safety and driver assistance tools.

  • Interior

    The brown interior of a 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is shown from the passenger side.

    When looking for a new vehicle, the interior can either draw you in or turn you away. This can be especially true for SUVs as they have quickly taken their place as the ideal family vehicle. Roomy, safe, comfortable; you name it, and the SUV seems to have it. So, when looking for an SUV, you want the interior to match your expectations. Is it fair to have the same expectations for all SUVs, or are some a cut above the rest?

    The Luxuriously Comfortable 2023 Nissan Pathfinder

    The 2023 Nissan Pathfinder is roomy with enough seating for eight, with the exception of the Rock Creek trim that seats seven due to the standard Captain’s Chairs. The SV, SL, and Platinum trims have the option to upgrade to the Captain’s Chairs as well, dropping their seating capacity, which seems like a fair trade for the added comfort. The Rock Creek features Leatherette-appointed seats, a durable, high-quality faux leather that looks and feels just as luxurious as the real thing. The SL and Platinum trims feature leather-appointed seats, with the Platinum trim featuring leather in both the front and middle rows.

    Heated front seats are standard across the board, with the exception of the S trim, and for even more comfort, the Platinum also features cooled seats. Nothing like a hot day and some relaxing, cooled seats to make you forget the sweltering sun. The third row is easily accessible with the unique Nissan-designed EZ FLEX Seating System that uses Latch and Glide tip-up technology.

    All trims are equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, voice recognition, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM. Trims feature either an 8-inch or a 9-inch color touch display, making it easy to access apps and program features. Tri-Zone automatic climate control is standard on all trim levels so that everyone can customize their climate settings. Another standard is a Remote Keyless Entry System, so you can say goodbye to fishing around for your keys.

    The Comforts of the 2023 Kia Sorento

    The 2023 Kia Sorento offers seating for up to seven, but with the top five trim levels seating six due to the second-row Captain’s Chairs. A majority of the trims feature seats trimmed in Kia’s version of faux leather, a fabric called SynTex, and the top two trims feature genuine leather. All trims, with the exception of the first, offer heated front seats, and the top two trims include heated outboard seats in the second row. To further the comfort level, the top two trims are also equipped with cooled front seats.

    The driver and passengers get to enjoy a dual-zone climate control system, along with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth. For convenience, all trims are equipped with Remote Keyless Entry, but trims other than the LX use an upgraded version called Smart Key w/ Push Button Start and Remote Start. Information and apps are displayed on either an 8-inch or a 10.25-inch touchscreen that includes navigation, and all trims, except the first trim, include a wireless phone charger.

    Which Interior Wins the Gold?

    It appears to be a close call between the 2023 Nissan Pathfinder and the 2023 Kia Sorento, as both interiors feature some inviting options. On the one hand, the Kia Sorento offers two out of the eight trim options with ventilated seats, and the largest display available is a tad over ten inches, whereas the Nissan Pathfinder offers only one out of their five trim options with ventilation and the largest display offered is an inch smaller than that of the Sorento. It would seem the Kia Sorento may win this one; however, the Nissan Pathfinder has some advantages that may outweigh those of the Kia.

    The Pathfinder seats up to eight rather than seven, meaning you can fit more passengers in the Nissan than the Kia. However, it isn't just more seating; there is simply more room in the Nissan than there is in the Kia. With the exception of the second-row legroom, the Nissan Pathfinder offers more room for passengers to stretch out. More cargo room is also available in the Nissan, with the Pathfinder offering up to 80.5 cu.ft. of cargo space, compared to the Sorento's 75.5 cu.ft., meaning you can pack more for a weekend getaway than you could if you were taking the Kia Sorento.

    Another consideration is that although the display screen is larger in the Kia, the Pathfinder offers three digital displays, whereas the Kia offers two. This includes the instrument cluster on both models, which means the Nissan Pathfinder has an additional display. Another advantage is the Nissan Pathfinder is that it offers tri-zone climate control, not a dual-zone climate control like the Kia. So although the Kia Sorento has some great interior features, it would seem that the Nissan Pathfinder has an overall better interior.

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