Honda Pilot Vs. Toyota HighlanderEnlarge Photo
Both of these models are among the best affordable mass-market family crossovers—affordable yet comfortable, safe, and well-equipped. But which fits your family better? Read on carefully, as it comes down to a few subtle yet important points.Over a couple of generations, both the Pilot and the Highlander have really proven themselves for family utility. Yet if there's one distinct thing that separates the Pilot out as better, it's the Honda's superior driving dynamics. And for the Highlander, it's the Hybrid offering, as well as the unique second-row pass-through seat.
Still, when we tally up our numeric ratings, it's the Highlander that comes out on top, particularly where family matters matter most. In safety, the Pilot's crash-test scores have been re-measured, and it's in the IIHS's good graces again--both are Top Safety Picks--but Honda bundles some of the most common safety features like rearview cameras on its most expensive models. Visibility also suffers on the Pilot, with its very thick, very SUV-like rear pillars.
Both of these models are tall and spacious, as well as easy to load and get into and out of (despite the lack of sliding doors). A slight nod for interior room goes to the Highlander, where even large adults fit easily in the second row. That bench has an option for a hide-away middle seat that stows to allow walk-through access to the Toyota's big third-row seat. The Pilot's third-row seat is wide but leg room is a little shorter than some, but the interior brims with useful cubbies and bins.
Both of these models can be fitted with a power tailgate, DVD entertainment systems, Bluetooth, navigation, and other luxury features. Yet if you're on a budget, Toyota has the edge for now, as even on the most affordable models Display Audio systems now offer a USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming, and Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity.
You'll enjoy driving the Pilot more, for sure, since its steering and ride are far more controlled than the Highlander and its numb, loose feel. The Pilot comes in just a single powertrain offering, a 250-hp V-6 with a five-speed automatic good for up to 18/25 mpg with front-wheel drive. With either vehicle, all-wheel drive is available, but probably only needed if you live in a place where rough weather lasts for more than a month a year.
The Highlander scores for its variety of powertrains. A base four-cylinder with 187 horsepower earns very good fuel economy; it's topped by a fairly expensive Hybrid model that's rated at up to 28/28 mpg by the EPA. The strong V-6 version is best for towing or carrying a full load of passengers often.
Big family utes like these don't have to be good-looking to be great choices. However, one of the best vehicles in the segment happens to do that: while the Highlander outpoints the Pilot in this head to head, the Ford Flex outscores them both by a wide margin, with more infotainment features, and with a famously boxy shape that looks compelling while hitting all the right marks for safety and utility. All three are built to serve and protect--it's up to you if you want to serve something else, too.
|2013 Honda Pilot||2013 Toyota Highlander|
|The 2013 Honda Pilot looks tough and truck-like from the outside, yet inside it's one of the better family haulers.||The 2013 Toyota Highlander isn't exciting in any dimension, but like the Camry, it's competent and is a good value.|
|Read moreThe 2013 Honda Pilot is refreshingly boxy overall, but overwrought in its details.||Read moreThe ubiquitous 2013 Toyota Highlander doesn't have much styling at all, but it looks functional.|
|Read moreForget the boxy look; the 2013 Pilot performs as if it were low and lean.||Read moreA strong, torquey V-6 makes the 2013 Highlander confident and quick; but its soft suspension commands little enthusiast.|
|Read moreThe 2013 Honda Pilot has a usable third-row seat and is quite comfortable, but its control layout should be simpler.||Read moreWith three rows of seating and a relatively smooth ride, the Highlander is spacious and versatile in all the ways a busy family would want.|
|Read moreFamily shoppers will be happy to find the Honda Pilot among one of the safest choices in this class.||Read moreThe Highlander a safety edge thanks to some enviable safety ratings, although it's not at the forefront in advance-tech accident-avoidance features.|
|Read moreThere are some exciting features and options available on the Pilot, but many are only offered on much pricier EX-L or Touring models.||Read moreThe Toyota Highlander has a thoughtful set of standard features, and upgraded infotainment keeps the 2013 model in the good graces of busy parents.|
|Read moreThere's no four-cylinder engine offered in the Pilot, but if a V-6 and three rows of seating are priorities, it's one of the most efficient picks.||Read moreFour-cylinder and Hybrid versions of the 2013 Highlander get impressive gas mileage, but strong V-6 models aren't as noteworthy.|
|from $29,520||from $29,020|
|from $27,000||from $26,494|
|Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway|
|Front Leg Room (in)|
|Second Leg Room (in)|
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