Honda Pilot vs. Toyota Highlander – Comparing Family SUVs

You need a new SUV in Denver—we suspect that’s why you’re here. But with dozens of great crossovers available, you may be having trouble picking the very best one. (Such is the life of a car-shopper in America!)

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Don’t let the saturated SUV field bowl you over. If you’re in the market for a new family vehicle, two high-quality SUVs are likely to be on your list: the new Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. But which one is better? Let’s talk about that.

Who Has the Bigger Engine?

The entry-level 2018 Toyota Highlander LE 2WD comes standard with a 2.7L 4-cylinder DOHC that makes 185 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, which is below average for the segment. To pump those rookie numbers up, you’d have to upgrade to the Highlander SE or AWD LE, which would get you access to a pricier V6 (which, oddly enough, improves MPG from 22 combined to 23).

All 2019 Honda Pilot trims, including the base Pilot LX 2WD, are equipped with a boisterous, not-so-little V6 powerhouse that rides 280 ponies and delivers 262 pound-foot of torque. It’s essentially the Big Engine That Could in our tale of two SUVs, beating the comparable base Highlander LE FWD straight-up in towing capability (3500 lbs. vs. 1500 lbs.).

If you’re looking for an affordable SUV that has ambitions as great as your own, the 2019 Pilot is a better pick than the Highlander.

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Which SUV Offers More Space?

Driving the new Honda Pilot, you’ll forget about the destination. That’s in large part thanks to its enormous cabin, which also happens to be one of the largest in the mid-size SUV market. With seating for eight, the 2019 Pilot offers an astounding 152.9-cubic-foot cabin, besting the Highlander’s 144.9-cubic-foot interior.

You may be thinking, “Only eight measly cubic feet separate these two? That’s nothing!” For all intents and purposes, the Pilot’s extra passenger space allows for nearly 60 additional gallons of milk when compared to the Highlander’s. And that’s something Honda should be proud of.

As a “normal” Denver grocery shopper, you probably limit your dairy purchases to one gallon at a time. Even so, the new Honda Pilot provides more cargo space than the Toyota Highlander; behind the third-row, the Pilot offers an expansive 16.5 cubic feet of room, which is a dramatic upgrade over the Highlander’s 13.8 cubic-foot cargo area.

Buy milk in bulk or by the gallon—either way, the Pilot is the most accommodating SUV between the two.

How Do the Features Compare?

Things get much more competitive when discussing features in the new Pilot vs. Highlander. Both full-size SUVs come with a brilliant array of gizmos, gadgets, and thingamajigs, making the choice for “best SUV” difficult. But the show, as they say, must go on.

Many similar features are shared between the base Pilot LX and Highlander LE, including standard USB ports, Bluetooth, AUX, SVC, and luscious touchscreens. However, the Pilot LX also includes a few standard features you won’t find on the comparable Highlander model:

  • A 215W 7-speaker sound system with subwoofer
  • LED glovebox illumination
  • 15 cupholders (vs. the Highlander’s 12)

At the top of the line, however, the Pilot Elite offers the following standard or optional features, which are not available in the Highlander Limited:

  • Hands-free liftgate
  • Remote engine start
  • Rear entertainment system (10.2-inch screen) and Blu-Ray Player
  • Second-row HDMI connection
  • 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
  • CabinTalk In-Car PA system
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto

Which Is the Safest SUV?

Having won numerous safety awards over the years, both the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are world-class SUVs. They each offer systems like collision mitigation, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

But it’s the Pilot that gets the slight edge as the safest SUV of the bunch, earning the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. That high grade comes from exceptional headlights and general crashworthiness, though the Highlander isn’t far behind with its TSP rank.

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Safe, powerful, and (nearly) as spacious as outer space itself, the 2019 Honda Pilot is quite the exceptional SUV.

Come take a look at the new Pilot at our Centennial Honda dealership (10750 E Arapahoe Rd). It’s ready and waiting to make your life easier—as are our salespeople! Call our Honda dealership near Denver at (720) 636-7000 to schedule a test drive, or simply find your way to the Kuni Honda showroom to get acquainted with any of our new Honda models.


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Categories: New Inventory