- The 2019 Toyota 4Runner is a highly competent off-road SUV while the 2019 Honda Pilot is more of a family-friendly minivan alternative.
- A third row of seats is optional in the 4Runner and standard in the Pilot.
- The 4Runner TRD Pro gains some new off-road performance features while the Pilot gets new standard safety tech for 2019.
If you’re shopping for a midsize SUV, a good way to see some of the variety in this segment is to compare the Honda Pilot to the Toyota 4Runner. They’re both technically in the same segment, but these SUVs are actually very different. The Pilot is a unibody crossover with car-like ride quality and driving dynamics while the 4Runner is an old school body-on-frame SUV that’s more of an off-roader.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the Honda Pilot and the Toyota 4Runner and see which is better.
The very different exteriors of these SUVs speak to their differences. The Pilot has a lot of soft edges and an overall inviting presence while the 4Runner has more of a mean look to it with a body design and rugged exterior features. The Pilot looks more like a family car and the 4Runner looks more like an off-roader and that’s exactly what they are, respectively. The 4Runner is a little taller than the Pilot, but the Honda is wider and longer than the Toyota.
The interior design is pretty congruent with the exterior design of both of these SUVs. The inside of the Pilot is a nice place to be for the driver and passengers alike, with roomy comfortable seats and a third row that’s actually spacious enough for adults. See the 2019 Honda Pilot models for sale near you
The inside of the 4Runner, on the other hand, looks quite dated, but it also has a bit of a rugged look to it in its simplicity. The available third row in the Toyota is a little tight and should really only be used by children. It’s worth noting that the Pilot is available with second-row captain’s chairs and the 4Runner is not. See the 2019 Toyota 4Runner models for sale near you
Both SUVs have cargo space that is above average for this segment, meaning you can bring everyone’s stuff along with you.
Both of these SUVs only have one engine available under the hood, both of which are strong V6 engines. The 4Runner comes standard with rear-wheel drive (RWD) with available 4-wheel drive (4WD) while the Pilot has standard front-wheel drive (FWD) and is upgradable to all-wheel drive (AWD).
2019 Honda Pilot Engine
- 3.5-liter V6; 280 horsepower, 262 lb-ft of torque; 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway (FWD); 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy (AWD)
2019 Toyota 4Runner Engine
- 4.0-liter V6; 270 hp, 278 lb-ft of torque; 17 mpg city/21 mpg hwy (RWD); 17 mpg city/20 mpg hwy (4WD)
The V6 engines in the Pilot and the 4Runner make pretty similar performance numbers, but the Pilot is significantly more fuel-efficient. This is partly because the 4Runner has a 5-speed transmission as its only option and the Pilot’s V6 is linked to either a 6-speed or a slightly more efficient 9-speed transmission. The two have identical maximum towing capacities of 5,000 pounds.
The Pilot is smooth, comfortable and respectably efficient on the road, but when the pavement ends is where the 4Runner really shines. The Toyota is a very strong off-roader when equipped with 4WD. There are two different 4WD systems available for the 4Runner: part-time and full-time 4WD. When you upgrade to the TRD trims, you get more off-road kit with the TRD Pro model coming with 2.5-in Fox shocks, a TRD-stamped skid plate, a TRD roof rack and a JBL stereo (which isn’t really an off-road feature) which are all new features for this trim for 2019.
Technology is another area where it’s clear that the Pilot is a family vehicle and the 4Runner is built with a different purpose in mind. Every 2019 Pilot comes with Honda Sensing, which is newly standard for 2019. Honda Sensing gives you automatic emergency braking, a road departure mitigation system, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. These are features that are standard on the Honda and not available at all on the Toyota.
The infotainment system is also much more modern in the Honda than it is in the Toyota. On every trim of the Pilot except the base LX model, you get an 8-in infotainment system that comes loaded with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These smartphone connectivity features aren’t available at all on the 4Runner.
A few things that you can get in both SUVs include navigation, premium audio and a moonroof. A couple more things you can get in the Pilot that you can’t get in the 4Runner include a back seat entertainment system, wireless charging, a hands-free power lift gate, tri-zone automatic climate control and more creature comforts giving the Pilot almost minivan-like levels of family-friendly convenience.
With all of the advantages and more standard technology in the Pilot, you might think it’s the more expensive of the two, but the 4Runner actually has a higher starting price. The Toyota has a starting MSRP of $35,310 and the Pilot starts at $31,450. Both of these SUVs can get into high-$40k territory in the higher trims with the range-topping Pilot Touring adding features like standard AWD, a panoramic roof, wireless charging, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs and much more. The top-of-the-line 4Runner is the TRD Pro model, which is an off-road beast with features like 4WD, Fox shocks, hill-start assist control, Multi-Terrain Select, crawl control, a locking rear differential, SofTex seats that are heated in front and more. For both SUVs, there are several trims in between the bottom and the top allowing you to shop for the one that suits your needs and your budget.
If you’re not planning on ever going off-road, the Honda Pilot is a clear winner over the Toyota 4Runner. The 4Runner is an excellent off-roader, but, quite frankly, that’s the only thing it’s really good at. The Pilot is more modern through and through, from the more efficient engine to the nicer interior to the tons of technology you can get in the Honda that just isn’t available in the Toyota. If you like the idea of a 3-row SUV that can do some serious off-roading then the 4Runner is a great choice. For the rest of us whose tires will never or rarely leave the pavement, the Pilot is just plain better. Find a Toyota 4Runner for sale or Find a Honda Pilot for sale