- The Honda Pilot and the Toyota 4Runner are technically in the same class, but they’re very different.
- The Pilot is more of a family SUV, and the 4Runner is more of a rugged off-roader.
- The 4Runner gets some nice updates for 2020 but hasn’t gotten a full redesign since 2010.
The Honda Pilot and the Toyota 4Runner have kind of an odd relationship. The two technically compete in the same segment of midsize SUVs, but we wouldn’t call them direct competitors. They both have dimensions that put them in the midsize class, they both have a standard V6 engine, and they both have three rows of seats (standard in the Pilot, optional in the 4Runner), but that’s about where the similarities end.
These two SUVs have very different styling that hints at their respective strengths. The Pilot has a soft, almost minivan-like aesthetic, while the 4Runner has a more boxy and rugged look to it. That’s because the Pilot is a family SUV and the 4Runner is an off-roader. See the 2020 Honda Pilot models for sale near you
As for sizing, these two SUVs are proportioned a little differently. The Honda is about six inches longer and three inches wider than the Toyota, but the 4Runner is taller and has more ground clearance, which helps with off-roading. See the 2020 Toyota 4Runner models for sale near you
The Pilot has standard 3-row seating, and the 4Runner comes standard with two rows with an optional third row. When the third row is added to the Toyota, it cuts into cargo space quite a bit, and there’s not much legroom back there. It’s also worth noting that that Pilot is available with second-row captain’s chairs and the 4Runner is not. They both have a generous amount of cargo space, but again, the 4Runner has a lot less cargo space when optioned with a third row of seats.
As for interior design, the Pilot is clearly designed more with families in mind than the 4Runner. The 4Runner has some rugged charm in the simplicity of its interior design, but some might just see it as dated. The Pilot is more modern on the inside with plenty of soft-touch materials and a roomy, airy cabin. If you’re planning on using the third row of seats regularly, then the Pilot is the more family-friendly SUV.
Both SUVs have just one engine option: a naturally aspirated V6. The Pilot uses a car-like unibody construction, while the 4Runner uses a more old-school, truck-like body-on-frame architecture. The result is the Honda being the more comfortable, road-friendly crossover, while the 4Runner offers a more truck-like driving experience.
2020 Toyota 4Runner Engine
- 4.0-liter V6; 270 horsepower, 278 lb-ft of torque; up to 16 mpg city/19 mpg hwy
2020 Honda Pilot Engine
- 3.5-liter V6; 280 hp, 262 lb-ft of torque; up to 20 city/27 mpg hwy
Clearly, the engine in the Pilot is significantly more efficient than the one in the 4Runner while making very similar power and torque numbers. For most drivers, that automatically makes the Pilot the preferred SUV, but Toyota loyalists love the dependability of the tried-and-true V6 that powers the 4Runner.
The Pilot has front-wheel drive with available all-wheel drive that’s nice to have when the roads get slippery. The 4Runner has standard rear-wheel drive and available four-wheel-drive, which turns this Toyota into a very capable off-roader in a way that the Pilot can’t match. This is especially true when you get into the more off-road-oriented TRD trims of the 4Runner.
The 4Runner gets a much-needed technological update for 2020. Toyota Safety Sense-P driver assistance technology is standard on every trim and includes forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic high-beam headlights. This is the first time any of these technologies have ever been available on the 4Runner, and it’s great to see them as standard equipment. Also new for 2020 is a standard 8-in infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa.
The Pilot comes standard with a safety tech suite called Honda Sensing, which includes automatic high-beam headlights, forward-collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, road-departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control. It uses a pretty bare-bones 5-in infotainment system in the base LX trim, but every other trim of the Pilot has an 8-in touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The 4Runner has a better standard infotainment system, but if you upgrade to the EX trim for the Pilot, you can then get the upgraded 8-in system and still spend less than you would on a base 4Runner.
The Pilot and the 4Runner are priced a little differently. The Pilot has a starting MSRP of $31,650, and the 4Runner starts at $36,120. Both SUVs get up to around the $50K mark in their top trims but have different priorities in that price range.
A high-end Pilot Elite puts a greater focus on luxurious, family-friendly features such as an available back seat entertainment system, second-row captain’s chairs and a hands-free power lift gate. Alternately, a high-end 4Runner TRD Pro prioritizes off-road capability with upgrades such as Fox shocks with TRD-tuned springs and a rugged appearance package that includes a front skid plate, matte-black TRD alloy wheels and a special front grille.
The choice here is obvious depending on your priorities. If you want a comfortable, practical family SUV, then go with the Honda Pilot. If excellent off-road capabilities are more important to you than a smooth, car-like ride and good fuel economy, then the rugged 4Runner is the midsize SUV for you. Find a Toyota 4Runner for sale or Find a Honda Pilot for sale