Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2020 Buick Enclave is parked at a park with bikes on the liftgate.

SUV Faceoff – 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder

Between the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder, when put head to head, which of these three-row crossover SUVs comes out on top? On the surface, the two vehicles may appear to be fairly similar in size, power, and features. But a deeper look reveals some significant differences. From interior layout to mechanical performance to vehicle features and infotainment, the 2020 Buick Enclave proves to be the superior option almost across the board. While the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is far from a bad choice for a midsize SUV, unless you have specific needs that make use of its strengths or are simply looking to save money, the 2020 Buick Enclave will almost certainly serve you better.

From the outside, the two vehicles are very similar in size. Even if they were put side by side, you might be unable to see much of a difference between them. However, the 2020 Buick Enclave is about 6” longer and 2” wider than the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder. Although this may not appear to be much and has no noticeable effect on handling, it does translate into a roomier interior and more cargo space. While the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder maxes out at 79.5 cubic feet of cargo space with its back two rows of seats folded, the 2020 Buick Enclave boasts an impressive 97.6 cubic feet of cargo space. However, comparing passenger space is more difficult because the two vehicles allocated it quite differently.

Despite being smaller overall, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder actually has a couple more inches of legroom in the front two rows. But it achieved this feat by sacrificing the third row. While the 2020 Buick Enclave offers 33.5” of third-row legroom, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder has just 19.8”. This effectively makes the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder a three-row SUV in name only, as even children will have difficulty spending much time back there. So if you need to routinely fit more than five people in your vehicle, then the 2020 Buick Enclave wins this comparison hands down.

A blue 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is parked under a bridge.

Power, Mechanics, and Towing

When it comes to comparing the drivetrains of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder, the American SUV again comes out on top. Powered by a 3.6L V6 engine, the Buick has 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is limited to a 3.5L V6 with just 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. And if these raw numbers are not enough, the 2020 Buick Enclave also has a superior nine-speed automatic transmission against the standard Nissan CVT in its rival. While neither of these vehicles are sports cars, the 2020 Buick Enclave has a significant advantage in acceleration, making it a generally more comfortable vehicle to drive.

When it comes to the all-wheel drive variants of the two SUVs, the 2020 Buick Enclave has an even larger advantage. Although the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is advertised as having “Intelligent 4×4,” this is really just a normal AWD system with a single central clutch to send power to the rear wheels when needed. The lower Essence trim of the 2020 Buick Enclave uses a similar single-clutch system. However, the higher Premium and Avenir trims have a more advanced twin-clutch system that allows them to split power between the left and right rear wheels. While still not quite up to the standards of a true 4WD vehicle, it is a significant improvement over the more basic AWD systems.

But curiously, despite having less power and an arguably inferior drivetrain, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder actually has a higher tow rating, and it is advertised as being able to pull up to 6,000 pounds regardless of its configuration. In contrast, the 2020 Buick Enclave is intended to only tow up to 5,000 pounds and requires the optional Trailering Package to do so. However, although its maximum tow rating is lower, a 2020 Buick Enclave with the Trailering Package does have the advantages of an additional Tow/Haul transmission mode, heavy-duty engine cooling, and Hitch Guidance as well as its more powerful engine. So unless you need to pull more than 5,000 pounds, the 2020 Buick Enclave will probably offer a better towing experience.

A black 2020 Buick Enclave Avenir is driving on a tree-lined road after winning the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder comparison.

Interior Features Shoot Off

While dimensions and the powertrains are important considerations in any vehicle, it is the little features that make a vehicle livable. And here again, comparing the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder puts the American car on top. This may not be a particularly surprising revelation given that the MSRP of the 2020 Buick Enclave ranges from $40,000 to $53,800 while the price tag on a 2020 Nissan Pathfinder is between $31,680 and $42,290. However, the price overlap between these two vehicles is large enough that a fair comparison can be made by pitting the top Platinum trim of the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder against the second from the bottom Essence trim of the 2020 Buick Enclave. The comparison between these two trims is surprisingly close, with both vehicles running almost exactly $43,000 in their FWD configurations.

In terms of standard interior features, both the 2020 Buick Enclave Essence and the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum are fairly similar. Both vehicles offer basic luxury features such as keyless entry and remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, and a hands-free power liftgate. The Nissan does have some additional features, such as a power tilt/telescope steering column and a heated steering wheel. However, the Buick has some tricks of its own, including four one-touch power windows, active noise cancellation, an air ionizer, and an optional keypad entry system. But when it comes to seating, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum is the clear winner with its heated and cooled front seats and heated outboard second-row seats. Infotainment on both vehicles is built around an 8” touchscreen and includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. However, the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum comes with navigation and a 13-speaker Bose sound system, while the 2020 Buick Enclave Essence only gets navigation and a 10-speaker Bose sound system as part of its optional Sound and Sites package.

All in all, this apples-to-apples interior features comparison of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder has the Japanese car come out ahead. Still, it is difficult to say that its edge in interior features is enough to overcome the Buick’s significant advantages in interior room and engine power. And more importantly, the higher trims of the 2020 Buick Enclave offer all of the features found on the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder while retaining all of the 2020 Buick Enclave’s advantages as a vehicle. Indeed, the 2020 Buick Enclave even offers some far more advanced interior features such as HD Surround Vision, a Safety Alert Seat, and wireless phone charging. So while the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder may represent a slightly better value if you desire comforts over performance and do not intend to use the third-row seats often, an overall comparison of the 2020 Buick Enclave vs 2020 Nissan Pathfinder will have to give the win to the Buick. On nearly every factor except for cost, it comes out ahead, and even the cost difference is not particularly large given what your money is buying.

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