For many car shoppers, midsize SUVs have overtaken midsize sedans as the preferred form of family transportation. Offering roomy accommodations for passengers and cargo, these SUVs have what it takes to meet the needs of active families.
Which of these three-row midsize SUVs is the right choice for you? Below, we’ll take a look at how they stack up in a few areas that are of crucial concern to many car shoppers.
Every time a model gets redesigned, it enters what’s called a new generation, and this article covers each model’s most current generation. The Pilot’s most recent generation was introduced for the 2016 model year, and the Highlander entered its current generation with the 2014 model. If you’re looking for a used Honda Pilot or a used Toyota Highlander that offers the amenities discussed in this article, limit your search to vehicles from each model’s current generation.
Fuel Economy: Toyota Highlander
Used for everything from cross-country road trips to daily commutes, family SUVs log lots of miles. For this reason, smart car shoppers with an eye on their finances often seek out models that offer strong fuel economy.
The current generation of the Honda Pilot achieves gas mileage of up to 20 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. These figures are respectable enough, but there are choices in this segment that offer better fuel economy.
One such choice is the Toyota Highlander. Unlike the Pilot, the Highlander is available with a hybrid powertrain, and this allows it to deliver outstanding fuel efficiency. With the Highlander Hybrid, you can expect gas mileage of up to 30/28 mpg city/highway. Highlander SUVs with the gas-only powertrain achieve fuel economy of up to 21/27 mpg.
Cargo Space: Honda Pilot
Wondering why so many car shoppers are choosing midsize SUVs over midsize sedans? One reason concerns cargo space. A midsize SUV can more than double the cargo capacity offered by a midsize sedan.
With the Honda Pilot, you’ll get 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space with all three rows in use. With the third-row seats folded, cargo capacity jumps to 46.8 cubic feet. Lowering both the second and third rows allows the Pilot to provide 83.9 cubic feet of room for your belongings.
The Highlander provides less cargo space than the Pilot. It offers up to 13.8 cubic feet behind its third row and 42.3 cubic feet with the third row folded. With the second- and third-row seats lowered, the Highlander packs 83.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Technology Features: Honda Pilot
We rely on tech features to keep us entertained and informed when we’re on the road. The Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander both cover most of the basics in this area, but there are some differences worth pointing out.
The Pilot comes standard with features such as a 5-inch touchscreen and a seven-speaker audio system. Optional tech amenities include an infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a rear-seat entertainment system with a 10.2-inch screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration became available starting with the 2017 model.
With the Toyota Highlander, an infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker audio system are standard. Options include an 8-inch touchscreen and a rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch screen.
The Toyota Highlander isn’t available with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration. Also, a Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t available. If these features are important to you, stick with the Honda Pilot.
The Highlander is available with a unique optional tech feature that will be of interest to any driver who’s ever struggled to communicate with passengers in the third row. It’s called Driver Easy Speak, and it uses a microphone and the vehicle’s speakers to help the person behind the wheel communicate with passengers in the back of the vehicle. This feature isn’t offered by the Pilot.
Highlander and Pilot: Comprehensive Driver-Assistance Features
Safety is an important consideration to weigh when evaluating family vehicles. Since they can help prevent accidents, driver-assistance features play a key role in vehicle safety.
The Highlander’s list of standard and optional driver-assistance features includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane keep assist, a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert and a surround-view camera.
With the Pilot, you have access to standard and optional amenities such as road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, a frontal-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane keep assist, a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.
Both the Highlander and the Pilot are more or less evenly matched when it comes to driver-assistance technology.
Tow up to 5,000 Pounds with Either Model
Many drivers use their midsize SUVs for towing boats and trailers. Though they’re not as powerful as full-size SUVs, these models have the goods to pull sizable loads.
Once again, the Pilot and the Highlander find themselves in a dead heat. Both models are able to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The Bottom Line
While the Highlander and Pilot are similarly matched when it comes to driver-assistance features and towing capacity, they differ in areas that matter to many car shoppers. You won’t find a Wi-Fi hotspot or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration in the Toyota Highlander, but these features are offered in the Honda Pilot.
However, the Highlander surpasses the Pilot in fuel efficiency, especially when equipped with its available hybrid powertrain.
Both these SUVs are top choices in what has become a very popular and competitive segment. By considering the differences discussed above, you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to which of these two models is right for you.