For families who want or need more than five seats, a big, 3-row crossover like the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot are good options. They offer generous space for both passengers and cargo and can transport the family safely and comfortably. Their versatility makes them great for anything from errands around town to cross-country road trips or anything in between.
The Honda Pilot is a little bigger than the Toyota Highlander. The Honda is about four inches longer, three inches wider and three inches taller than the Toyota, meaning it will take up a little more space in your garage.
The exterior of the Pilot and the Highlander are both very modern while retaining a traditional boxy SUV profile. They can both be had with a blacked out grille giving them both a more rugged aesthetic while still looking refined.
Between the Pilot and the Highlander, we don’t think one looks much better than the other. Which option is better looking is up to you.
The Pilot and the Highlander both have seating for up to eight people, but they both also both get pretty cramped with three people in the third row. They’re both available with second-row bucket seats making the third row easier to access.
The Pilot has a little more legroom in the third row than the Highlander, but it’s still really only comfortable for children on long distances. If you think you’ll be using the third row for adults with any regularity, then a minivan is still your best bet.
Both of these crossovers have ample space for passengers and cargo, but the Pilot is a little roomier for cargo and for third-row passengers.
2019 Toyota Highlander Engines
2.7-liter inline four; 185 horsepower, 184 lb-ft of torque; 20 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway
3.5-liter V6; 295 hp, 263 lb-ft of torque; 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy
Hybrid 3.5-liter V6; 306 net hp, 30 mpg city/28 mpg hwy
2019 Honda Pilot Engine
3.5-liter V6; 280 hp, 262 lb-ft of torque; 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy
Obviously, the Highlander has more variety under the hood than the Pilot, but the sole engine in the Honda is a good one. However, with the V6 in the Highlander having a little more power and slightly better fuel economy, the Toyota has a slight edge over the Honda.
The 4-cylinder in the Highlander is only available on the base trim and we’d strongly recommend upgrading to the V6, especially if you’re planning on ever doing any towing. The hybrid is an attractive option, as well, and it’s one that won’t cost you that much extra, which we’ll get into shortly.
As you might expect, both SUVs come standard with front-wheel drive and are available with all-wheel drive. AWD is a nice addition for anyone living in snowy climates for extra traction when the road conditions get bad.
Mechanically, the Highlander beats the Pilot thanks to its variety and its stronger, more efficient V6.
The Pilot got a slight face-lift for 2019 and part of that includes some nice tech features. One of the most notable updates is standard Honda Sensing on every trim. Honda Sensing is a safety tech suite that includes collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. See the 2019 Honda Pilot models for sale near you
Honda Sensing is similar to the Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) safety tech package that’s standard on the Highlander. TSS-P has everything that Honda Sensing has with the addition of automatic high beams.
As for infotainment systems, the Toyota comes standard with a 6.1-in Entune audio system and it’s upgradable to an 8-in unit with SiriusXM. It can also be had with satellite navigation and JBL premium audio, but disappointingly, neither Android Auto nor Apple CarPlay are available on any trim of the Highlander. See the 2019 Toyota Highlander models for sale near you
The 2019 Pilot comes with an 8-in infotainment system on every trim except the base LX model which has a 5-in unit. The 8-in system comes with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is a big advantage over the Toyota if these connectivity features are important to you.
The safety tech credentials of the Pilot and the Highlander are very similar, but the availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a big perk for the Honda.
Pricing for these two modern family SUVs is very similar. The 2019 Pilot has a starting MSRP of $31,450 and the Highlander starts at $31,330. However, it’s worth noting that the most affordable V6 Highlander is $33,380. Remember, the V6 is standard on every Honda Pilot.
For both, you can work your way up through the $30k range upgrading to higher trims and adding options well into the high $40k range in the top trims like the Pilot Elite and the Highlander Limited.
The most affordable Highlander hybrid you can get is the Hybrid LE trim which starts at $36,970. Whether or not that price jump is worth it depends on how important to you the hybrid efficiency is. Depending on how many miles you put on it, the price difference could eventually pay for itself in fuel savings.
In many ways, this race is a close call, but we prefer the Honda Pilot over the Toyota Highlander. We think interior space is important in a 3-row SUV and the Pilot’s slightly bigger size, smart packaging and roomier third-row makes it a little more family friendly. We also think having Android Auto and Apple CarPlay being widely available on the Pilot and not available at all on the Highlander is one deciding factor, especially for more tech-conscious drivers. The Pilot can’t match the efficiency of a Highlander Hybrid, but we think it can beat the Toyota on value. Find a Toyota Highlander for sale or Find a Honda Pilot for sale