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Toyota Highlander vs. Honda Pilot

This is a blue Honda Pilot on display at a car show.

Sports Utility Vehicles are becoming one of the most popular vehicle shapes in the world, with many people purposefully looking for something larger. The Toyota Highlander has been a part of the SUV club since 2000 when it was first announced, but how does it compare to something new like the Honda Pilot.

Both vehicles have V6 engines that are powering them, coming in multiple trim levels; the true dividing feature of the cars is the hybrid options. The Toyota Highlander was introduced as a hybrid vehicle in 2020, making it both stronger and more fuel-efficient, while the Honda Pilot still uses the old 2016 shape and engine.

When choosing between these two vehicles, it can be challenging, with many people wondering if it is worth choosing either one. However, understanding all the features inside, outside, and beneath the hood will help you know how much value you will actually be getting for your money.

On The Outside

When parked next to each other, the Highlander and the Pilot only have a few features that set them apart. The Highlander is sporting a diamond grill instead of the flat line grill that the Pilot has, with the overall body shapes being extremely similar to each other.

It is only on closer inspection and knowing what to look for that, you will see that the Honda has a few smoother lines than the Toyota. With the side features having the same general shape but the Highlander having lines that flow from the front wheels to the back, while the Pilot has smoother lines following the door handles.

When looking at the lights, you may see that the Highlander has smoother LED lights that are shaped to be accentuated with the shape of the body, making the lights disappear into the overall shape of the SUV. Honda went with the more familiar look with the Pilot having the lights stand out when looked out, which are still LEDs.

Based on looks alone, both of these punch in the same category but at different weights, with the Pilot aiming for a sleeker flowing look than the Highlander. However, the Highlander is created with a more rugged and aggressive look that has become favored in recent years.

Step Inside

To look at how these two vehicles really are different, we need to take a look at their interiors, and all of the creatures features that you will find here. Each one has a unique set of standard features, and several options that you can add on that will drastically increase their appeal to customers.

Seating And Upholstery

This is a close look at the interior of a Honda Pilot showcasing the dashboard.

Both of these vehicles offer space for up to eight people to sit comfortably, with seats that can be folded down completely as well. Making them both capable of a massive amount of storage owing to the higher roofs of both SUVs allowing for significant storage when needed.

Further, both vehicles come standard with cloth upholstery that can be chosen with several different color arrangements. As you move through the higher-end models, you will be able to choose leather upholstery; similarly, with different trim levels that are available, you can get different colors.

The Highlander features a robust interior material that allows for easy cleaning when you are looking for it, while the interior plastics are robust enough to handle most abuse. There is very little creaking with either vehicle as the plastic has been manufactured to be competitive in the market.

The Honda Pilot has similar trim levels starting at the lowest level with pure cloth upholstery that only goes up to a combination of leather and cloth at higher trims. The plastics of the interior are the same, with the quality of the plastic being high and zero to no creaking allowed.

Cargo Space

This is a view of the interior of Honda Pilot with the seats folded to showcase the cargo space capability.

When it comes to cargo space, there is very little difference between these two vehicles, with the space to store almost anything you can think of. The Highlander has a total storage capacity of 84.3 cubic feet when all the seats are folded down, while the default cargo space is 48.4 cubic feet.

However, the Pilot excels at storage capacity because of some of the smaller interior trims, giving you 109.2 cubic feet with all eight seats folded down. In normal usage, the Pilot has a grand total of 55.9 cubic feet and will allow you to do most shopping with the family comfortably.

Features And Infotainment

This is a close look at the ceiling multimedia system of the Honda Pilot interior.

A standard, the Toyota Highlander has several features that make it an attractive option, with Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi Connectivity, a full JBL sound system, and a navigation system. It has an active pedestrian collision warning, road sign assist, cruise control, and electrically adjustable seats.

The Honda Pilot at the base level follows the trend of all Honda vehicles, it offers very little in creature features and only has Bluetooth, a 5-screen display, and USB ports included. However, when moving up, just one tier offers a range of new features, including an 8-inch touch screen.

Under The Hood

Both of these vehicles are around 5000-pounds with large engines that have been fitted specifically to have them be efficient and strong. The SUVs are not just made to be a car driving around the suburbs, with enough power and the ability to traverse rougher terrain easily.

Engine, Drivetrain, And Transmission

This is a close look at the engine under the hood of the Toyota Highlander.

When it comes to engine power and the technology put into it, the Toyota Highlander far outperforms the Honda Pilot. The Pilot has been using the same 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that has been in the SUB since its introduction in 2016, with little to no change.

This means that the nearly 4000-pound Honda Pilot is not efficient compared to even other SUVs of larger sizes. Fortunately, the Pilot does have a nine-speed automatic transmission that adds some comfort, with the only benefit being that the Pilot weighs slightly less.

However, the Toyota Highlander has been completely refreshed for 2020, and the inclusion of the hybrid 295-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine makes a massive difference. The Highlander’s stronger and more efficient engine allows the heavier chassis to work with the eight-speed automatic transmission comfortably.


Despite having less overall power, the Pilot is faster in accelerating to 60 mph, making it quite faster than the Highlander. With its hybrid engine, the Highlander does not accelerate as fast as the Pilot but does reach the same speeds on the open road, with the Hybrid engine working well at lower speeds.

As both their engines and sizes are so large, the vehicles can comfortably and easily two over 5000-pounds.

At The Pumps

This is a close look at the dashboard meters of the Toyota Highlander beyond the steering wheel.

With times changing, the move to electric cars is not the only thing that has become popular, with many countries recently facing gas shortages. When buying a gas-guzzling SUV, it is important to know whether or not it is a gas-guzzling monster or something that is surprisingly efficient.

As the Honda Pilot uses much older technology, it does not do well with fuel economy, only achieving 20 mpg inside the city. While its highway attempt is only 27 mpg, making it burn through gas wherever it is going, only getting worse once you add something to tow.

The Toyota Highlander is significantly more fuel-efficient, with its hybrid engine working overtime to overcome the usual bad image SUVs have. Getting 21 mpg when in the city and easily reaching 29 mpg when driving on the open highway, with the engine becoming more efficient the slower you go.

Safety First

The Highlander has reached top marks in every safety test that it has undergone, usually getting five stars, making it perfect for those who are safety conscious. At the same time, the older Honda Pilot has a few safety issues regarding the front passenger side.

Pricing Comparison

This is a silver Toyota Highlander on display at a car show.

Despite having a Hybrid engine and being newly refreshed, the Toyota Highlander has a reasonable price at only $34 810. The top-level tier with almost every feature added onto the vehicle only goes up to $46 965 with the optional features you can add, easily increasing the price to nearly $50 000.

This is a black Honda Pilot on display at a car show.

The Honda Pilot, despite its older design, starts at $39 060 for the base model, which does include several features that will make it comfortable. However, the top-tier model called the Elite starts at $49 120 and easily reaches nearly $55 000 when you add several features and functions.

And The Winner Is…

The Toyota Highlander has been around for nearly 20 years and has been updated several times to adjust the technology, the shape, and the internal technology. It handily wins compared to the Honda Pilot as its engine is both more efficient and much stronger.

Further, the overall price difference between the two SUVs makes the Highlander the clear winner as it comes in at a much lower price and is significantly stronger. The Pilot has a few advantages when it comes to looks and advanced features, but that does not save it from lack of features and power.


Honda Automobiles: Honda Pilot

US NEWS: Honda Pilot vs. Toyota Highlander

Toyota: Toyota Highlander