The 3-row SUV class is one of the most competitive in the world. The top contender is clearly the 2017 Honda Pilot, winning the US News Best 3 Row SUV for Families award. The Pilot was also a top finalist for the Best 3-Row SUV for the Money award. (The Highlander was also a finalist in these categories, but if you ain’t a winner, you’re a loser.) Here’s how these two best-selling SUVs compare to each other.
Large SUV’s are family-centric vehicles, making safety the most important consideration in this class. To be fair, both the Pilot and the Highlander received 5-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded both vehicles their Top Safety Pick+ designation—the Institute’s highest honor.
Toyota’s suite of driver-assist technology is comprised of a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection. The suite includes lane departure and steering correction software, as well as electronic ABS. The Highlander’s ABA (Advanced Airbag System) has front and side-mounted airbags with rollover sensing but does not include front passenger knee airbag protection. The Highlander has a birds-eye-view camera system, but the 360-degree perimeter view is only enabled when the vehicle is parked, making it essentially just a parking aid.
In the other corner of the safety ring is the 2017 Pilot. The Pilot uses Honda’s refined active and passive safety approach. Active safety features include driver-assist technology such as Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with Traction Control, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist. Honda also augments the rear-view mirrors with a profoundly good camera system, and even uses a small camera above the windshield for its Forward Collision Warning system.
Passive safety features include front seatbelts with pre-tensioner and load limiter, which automatically reduce belt pressure on the chest in the event of frontal impact. Advanced airbag technology with rollover sensing and front knee airbags provide the ultimate protection for both the driver and the front seat passenger. The front passenger knee airbag, rearview camera, and Honda’s ongoing commitment to a collision-free future puts the Pilot over the top in the 5-star safety category.
Interior & Cargo Space
One of the most outstanding interior features of the Pilot is the third-row seats, which are generously sized for adults. This large seat is a rarity in the class, and the Pilot’s front seat is as comfortable as we’ve ever felt.
The Highlander uses the standard SUV compact third-row seating configuration, which can result in cramped quarters for adult passengers stuck back there. With both SUV’s seats down, the Pilot’s 16.8 cubic feet of cargo space easily outmatches the Highlander’s (13.8 cubic feet).
Once again, Honda’s attention to detail is incredible and gives the Pilot a clear edge in the interior and cargo space category.
Performance & Power
Fuel efficiency comparison is tight between the Pilot and the Highlander. With the standard four-cylinder engine, the Highlander checks in at 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway. The Pilot, with its standard 3.5-liter V6, gets 19 mpg in the city but an incredible 27 mpg on the highway. Even when all-wheel drive is selected, the Pilot only drops to 18 mpg in the city with 26 on the highway. The Highlander can only match these numbers when you upgrade from the base model’s 4-cylinder engine to the more expensive 3.5-liter V6.
The Pilot’s standard V6 gets the most from its available 280 horsepower when married to either a six- or nine-speed gearbox. Choose the six-speed for quicker shifting, or the nine-speed for more vigorous acceleration. The Highlander, when upgraded to the V6, produces 15 more horses at 295hp, but the engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic that has infamously been known to shift awkwardly.
Yep—the new Pilot is the winner since its fuel-efficient V6 engine is standard.
Get a Winner at our South Florida Honda Dealers
It’s obvious that the 2017 Pilot wins this Honda vs. Toyota competition. Although the Highlander certainly has its moments, the newest Pilot is just a step above in all the metrics that matter most to SUV-loving families. If you’re in the market for a spacious, efficient large SUV, look no further than the driver’s seat of a Pilot.
For all you SUV shoppers around Miami, be sure to visit your nearest South Florida Honda Dealers location to view our selection of 2017 Honda Pilots or other crossovers for sale. We’ve also got tons of Honda specials available!
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