2021 Honda Pilot vs. 2021 Toyota Highlander
The field of three-row family SUVs has grown considerably over the years. Yet even as these new crops of vehicles get churned out, two full-size models have steadily weathered the storm to remain at the top: Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. They’re both spacious, rich in features, and great values for the segment. Pitted head to head, however, and it’s easy to see why the 2021 Pilot is a better buy.
Rear Entertainment System
Three Honda Pilot models (Touring, Elite and Black Edition) come standard with rear entertainment. Honda’s Advanced Rear Entertainment System features a 10.2-inch high-resolution screen with a Blu-Ray™ and DVD player and several built-in streaming apps. Keep those kids happy as clams, even on long (i.e. boring) road trips.
Zero Toyota Highlanders come with a rear entertainment system. Parents: You know what to do.
CabinControl & CabinTalk
Honda Pilot comes with available CabinControl, allowing riders to commandeer the audio system even when seated in the third row. Passengers needn’t do more than open a smartphone app to change stations, skip songs, pick playlists, or even adjust their own personal climate settings.
Taking its own name literally, the Honda Pilot allows drivers and front passengers to become de facto pilots of the entire cabin. With CabinTalk, users can communicate ETAs and landmark sightings to rear-seat riders, either via Pilot’s speakers or through connected RES headphones.
The Toyota Highlander does not come with any such comparable features.
One-Touch 2nd-Row Seats
Convenience comes standard in all Pilot models, especially the EX and higher trims. Just look to its spectacular One-Touch 2nd-Row Seats for proof. Unlike the seats in the Highlander, Pilot’s seats come with no hassles, no struggles, no fussy levers to fuss over. With the push of a button, you have immediate access to the third row—plain and simple.
Let’s take a look at the specs that matter most: Passenger volume. Inside the 2021 Honda Pilot Elite are 153.1 cubic feet of good, old-fashioned space for riders. Even the base Pilot LX keeps passenger room high, offering 152.9 cubes.
The Toyota Highlander, by comparison, is far less spacious. In its largest form, the Highlander L trim, you get just 141.3 cubic feet of space. Pop a moonroof in what is Pilot Elite’s rival, the Highlander Platinum, and passenger volume shrinks to a meager 136.1 cubic feet.
Pilot also out-delivers Highlander in those secondary, albeit still significant specs like 3rd-row legroom. Comparing the Pilot Elite to the Highlander Platinum, Honda’s full-size SUV offers more overall headroom, over 4 inches of additional rear legroom, and more room for shoulders and hips from front to mid-row seats. It’s a cornucopia of extra inches, essentially.
|2021 Pilot Elite||2021 Highlander Platinum|
|Passenger Volume||153.1 cu. ft.||136.1 cu. ft.|
|Headroom (front/middle/rear)||40.1 in/40.2 in/38.9 in||38.4 in/37.1 in/36.1 in|
|Shoulder Room (front/middle/rear)||62.0 in/62.0 in/57.6 in||59.0 in/58.4 in/55.0 in|
|Hiproom (front/middle/rear)||59.1 in/57.3 in/44.6 in||57.2 in/57.0 in/45.6 in|
|3rd-row Legroom||31.9 in||27.7 in|
The cargo king has arrived, and its name is “Honda Pilot.” Not only is Pilot more passenger-friendly than the Highlander, but it’s also more item-friendly. Open the liftgate. See that? It’s 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room, all for you and your gear. That’s 2.5 cubic feet more than what you get in the Highlander.
What’s that? You need more space? Flip the third row flat to expand cargo volume to 55.9 cubes, over 7 cubic feet more than the Highlander. Or pull the middle seats down and enjoy 109 cubic feet, which is over 25 cubic feet larger than the Highlander. Viva la king!
|2021 Pilot LX||2021 Highlander L|
|Rear Cargo Volume||18.5 cu. ft.*||16.0 cu. ft.|
|2nd-Row Cargo Volume||55.9 cu. ft.*||48.4 cu. ft.|
|Max Cargo Volume||109.0 cu. ft.*||84.3 cu. ft.|
In terms of dollars and cents, Honda’s Pilot is a better value than Toyota’s Highlander. Base Pilot LX models, which include the full Honda Sensing suite, seating for 8, and a multi-angle rearview camera, come with a price tag that’s about $2,000 less than the entry-level Highlander L trim. Those eye-opening pricing differences extend to all but the tippity-top Pilot Elite and Highlander Platinum models, too—and Highlander Platinum doesn’t include features like Pilot Elite’s i-VTM4 AWD System or Multi-Zone Audio.
|2021 Pilot Trim||MSRP*||MSRP||2021 Highlander Trim|
|Special Edition 2WD||$38,960||$41,405||XSE|
Cargo volume based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.
MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $1120 destination charge and accessories. Dealer prices may vary. MSRP does not include $395 charge for select premium colors. $395 charge only applies to 2021 models.