2016 Honda Pilot 2WD LX 6AT vs 2016 Toyota Highlander

2016 Honda


2016 Toyota

Yes280 HP No240
Yes262 Torque No248
Yes19.5 Fuel Capacity No19.2

3/3 Winner

  • Horse Power 100% 100%
  • Torque 100% 100%
  • Fuel Capacity 100% 100%

You Get Honda and Toyota in the automotive ring, and you are bound to witness a few cheap shots thrown. The two, both Japanese automakers that thrive for segment crowns, compete in one segment that, while slowly being replaced by the crossover, is important to those needing to drive the local soccer team up Mt. Everest. Three-row SUVs are a bastion of American urban hauling, whether it is kids and groceries or plywood for a home improvement project. An SUV provides seating, cargo space, inclement weather capability and platform from which family vacations are launched.

Putting the 2016 Honda Pilot against the 2016 Toyota Highlander may seem like a dastardly task; however, in this competition, there is a clear winner that claws its way to the top.

Downsizing Without Benefits

Honda slipped in a 3.5-liter V-6 engine into its all-new 2016 Pilot because the engine does all that it should and does it well. The 3.5-liter mill provides ample power, 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, while still providing a fuel economy rating of 19 miles per gallon while driving in the city and 27 mpg when cruising on the highway.

Toyota went a different route, one that was supposed to increase fuel efficiency yet sees no gains. If you opt for a 2016 Highlander, there are two engine choices, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter six-cylinder.

Now, you would think being significantly smaller than its V-6 sibling, the 2.7-liter inline-four makes 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. That is significantly less than the 270-hp, 248 lb-ft of torque 3.5-liter V-6.

If you added a smaller engine, less horsepower and torque and wrapped it in a three-row SUV package, you would think fuel economy would be through the roof. It would also be proof that math is harder than simple addition and subtraction. The 2.7-liter returns 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Ouch. The four-cylinder can barely outdo its 3.5-liter sibling on the highway. That six-cylinder engine returns 18 mpg in the city and the same 24 mpg on the highway.

Toyota stumbles over itself with its own engine lineup and in doing so cannot overtake the 2016 Honda Pilot in terms of fuel efficiency or power.

Yes19 City MPG No19
Yes27 Highway MPG No25
Yes22 Combined Fuel Economy No21

3/3 Winner

  • City MPG 100% 100%
  • Highway MPG 100% 100%
  • Combined Fuel Economy 100% 100%

Transmission Transitions

Both the 2016 Toyota Highlander and 2016 Honda Pilot come equipped with six-speed automatic transmission powering the front wheels. An all-wheel drive is an available option. What sets the Honda Pilot above the Toyota Highlander is the fact that on certain trims, a nine-speed automatic gearbox is available. This increases fuel efficiency and shows how the Japanese automaker is dedicated to new technologies.


When you sit the 2016 Toyota Highlander next to the 2016 Honda Pilot, you will notice the Pilot is a few inches taller, longer and wider than the Highlander. We are talking about differences of less than 4 inches. However, while the packaging may be similar in size, the Pilot uses that space significantly better than the Highlander.

Behind the third row of seats, Pilot owners can carry up to 16 cubic-feet of cargo. With the seats folded down, that space grows to 108.5 cu-ft of cavernous cargo space. For some reason, the Toyota Highlander has a slight differentiation in cargo space depending on which engine is equipped.

For a 2016 Highlander with the four-cylinder engine, cargo space measures 13.8 cu-ft with the seats up and 83.7 cu-ft with the seats down. The six-cylinder Highlander offers the same cargo space with the seats up, 13.8 cu-ft, but that space only grows to 82.6 cu-ft when the seats drop. It may be a small difference, but we are not sure where those few inches disappeared.

Yes3500 Tow Capacity (lbs) No1500
Yes16.5 Cargo Volume (cu. ft.) No13.8
Yes152.9 Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) No145.0

3/3 Winner

  • Tow Capacity (lbs) 100% 100%
  • Cargo Volume (cu. ft) 100% 100%
  • Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) 100% 100%

Elbow Room

Inside, passenger space is vastly different, favoring the all-new Honda Pilot, where engineers were able to work their magic and increase cabin space without hindering functionality and features. The Pilot offers 171.4 cu-ft of interior passenger space. The Highlander only offers 158.7 cu-ft. This is likely due to the fact Toyota has somehow squeezed a third seat into its second row. It is already a tight squeeze, and two three-row benches is a lot for the long haul.

9/9 Winner

  • 9/9 Winner 100% 100%
U.S. News Best Cars for Families   NHTSA 5-Star Safety Ratings   2016 IIHS Top Safety Pick+   

2016 Honda Pilot is the clear winner!

Word on the Street

“Also hugely impressive is the new Honda Pilot’s cabin, which is miles better in materials and execution than the outgoing model, and it’s quieter at speed thanks to myriad improvements on the noise, vibration, and harshness front.” – Automobile

“The Pilot’s three rows provide plenty of room for all and a host of active-safety tech is available to keep everyone safe.” – Car and Driver

“Toyota’s Entune infotainment system gets confused if you plug in multiple devices.” – Motor Trend

Crowning a King

So folks, there you have it. Let’s roll this one up and hit the sack. We have a winner and a clear winner at that. The 2016 Toyota Highlander offers a compelling package, but it is not a competitive one. The 2016 Honda Pilot, all-new for the model year, has more tricks up its sleeve than a magician in Las Vegas. No car is perfect, but the Honda Pilot comes closest to offering it. Anyone getting behind the wheel will be satisfied with power, features and functionality. You cannot get all that with the Highlander.

Fuel economy estimates and driving range based on EPA test data. Your actual driving distance will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle. Based on 2014-2016 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors. Complete comparison details can be found at Awards and accolade information can be found at

The 2016 Honda Pilot with Honda Sensing™ has been awarded the coveted 2016 TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in recognition of its superior crash safety performance. Safety matters most, and the 2016 Honda Pilot earned top marks with a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). [1] Government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s New Car Assessment Program ( Model tested with standard side airbags (SAB). U.S. News has recognized the 2016 Honda Pilot as the Best Car for Families in its class of 3-Row SUVs. This vehicle was recognized for its expansive standard features, spacious interior, and safety and reliability ratings. [1] View U.S. News Best Cars at