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For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Chrysler Pacifica are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.
Both the Pacifica and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Pacifica the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 120 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Highlander has not been tested, yet.
There are almost 2 times as many Chrysler dealers as there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pacifica’s warranty.
On the EPA test cycle the Pacifica Hybrid on full charge gets better fuel mileage than the Highlander FWD (87 city/76 hwy vs. 21 city/29 hwy).
The Pacifica Hybrid can drive on battery power alone for up to 32 miles. The Highlander must run its internal combustion engine to move.
Regenerative brakes improve the Pacifica Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Highlander doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
The Pacifica’s standard fuel tank has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander (19 vs. 17.9 gallons).
The Pacifica has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chrysler Pacifica, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.
The Pacifica Hybrid has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Highlander doesn’t offer a CVT.
For better traction, the Pacifica’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (245/50R20 vs. 235/65R18).
The Pacifica’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.
The Pacifica has vehicle speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Pacifica’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Highlander doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Pacifica’s wheelbase is 9.4 inches longer than on the Highlander (121.6 inches vs. 112.2 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Pacifica is 3 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Highlander.
The front grille of the Pacifica uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Highlander doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Pacifica uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Pacifica has 23.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander (165.1 vs. 141.3).
The Pacifica has 1.8 inches more front hip room, 4.8 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 7.8 inches more rear hip room, 4.3 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, 8.8 inches more third row legroom, 3.9 inches more third row hip room and 6.2 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander.
The Pacifica’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.
Behind Third Seat
32.3 cubic feet
16 cubic feet
Third Seat Folded
87.5 cubic feet
48.4 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
140.5 cubic feet
84.3 cubic feet
The Pacifica has standard Stow ‘n Go™ second and third row seats (except Hybrid for the second row), which fold flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Highlander doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Pacifica’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The Pacifica offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The Pacifica Limited non-Hybrid’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Pacifica’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Highlander does not have an oil pressure gauge.
The Pacifica’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Pacifica (except Hybrid Touring)’s optional ParkSense Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
The Pacifica was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 4 years. The Highlander has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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