2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Toyota 4Runner

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Pilot has a standard Collision Mitigation Braking System, which uses forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 4Runner doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Pilot’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Pilot uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The 4Runner uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition has standard HondaLink Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Pilot and the 4Runner have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and rear parking sensors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Toyota 4Runner:

Pilot

4Runner

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

149

267

Neck Injury Risk

28%

47%

Neck Stress

189 lbs.

438 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

54 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

488/468 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

3 Stars

HIC

216

367

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

35%

57%

Neck Stress

116 lbs.

271 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the 4Runner:

Pilot

4Runner

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

12 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.1/.5 kN

3.9/2.4 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.41/.41

.95/.85

Tibia forces R/L

1.8/1.5 kN

5/2.9 kN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Toyota 4Runner:

Pilot

4Runner

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

101 G’s

179 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

304 lbs.

381 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

20 inches

HIC

406

507

Hip Force

838 lbs.

895 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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 Pilot the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 4Runner was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engine in the 4Runner has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

Engine

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 10 more horsepower (280 vs. 270) than the 4Runner’s 4.0 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Honda Pilot is faster than the Toyota 4Runner:

Pilot

4Runner

Zero to 60 MPH

6 sec

7.8 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.2 sec

22 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.3 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

88 MPH

Top Speed

113 MPH

105 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Pilot gets better fuel mileage than the 4Runner:

MPG

Pilot

FWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

AWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

4Runner

RWD

5-spd

4.0 DOHC V6

17 city/21 hwy

AWD

5-spd

4.0 DOHC V6

17 city/20 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 4Runner doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Pilot 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 4Runner doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a five-speed automatic is available for the 4Runner.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops much shorter than the 4Runner:

Pilot

4Runner

70 to 0 MPH

180 feet

201 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

138 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Pilot LX/EX/EX-L’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4Runner’s standard 70 series tires. The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the 4Runner Limited’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Pilot LX/EX/EX-L has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the 4Runner.

The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The 4Runner doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Honda Pilot has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Toyota 4Runner has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional 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 4Runner doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Pilot’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the 4Runner (111 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the 4Runner.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .80 G’s, while the 4Runner TRD Off-Road pulls only .71 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2 seconds quicker than the 4Runner TRD Off-Road (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 29.5 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 500 pounds less than the Toyota 4Runner.

Unibody construction lowers the Pilot’s center of gravity significantly without reducing ground clearance. This contributes to better on the road handling and better off-road performance and stability. In addition, unibody construction makes the chassis stiffer, improving handling and reducing squeaks and rattles. The 4Runner uses body-on-frame design instead.

The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The 4Runner doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Pilot Elite 4WD is quieter than the 4Runner TRD Off-Road:

Pilot

4Runner

At idle

37 dB

43 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the 4Runner can only carry up to 7.

The Pilot has 24.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 4Runner (152.9 vs. 128).

The Pilot has .8 inches more front headroom, 2.6 inches more front hip room, 4.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear headroom, 5.5 inches more rear legroom, 1.6 inches more rear hip room, 4.2 inches more rear shoulder room, 4.6 inches more third row headroom, 2.6 inches more third row legroom and 1.3 inches more third row hip room than the 4Runner.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The 4Runner’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the 4Runner.

Pilot

4Runner

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

9 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

46.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

89.7 cubic feet

The Pilot has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The 4Runner doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Pilot EX-L/Touring/Elite/Black Edition has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or on the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Servicing Ease

The Pilot has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The 4Runner doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A Maintenance Minder is standard on the Pilot to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, spark plug replacement, air filter replacement, tire rotation, radiator flush, brake pad replacement and transmission fluid replacement based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Toyota doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the 4Runner.

Ergonomics

The Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite/Black Edition has a standard 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 4Runner doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The engine computer on the Pilot disables the starter while the engine is running. The 4Runner’s starter can be accidentally engaged while the engine is running, making a grinding noise and possibly damaging the starter and ring gear.

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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 4Runner doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Pilot’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The 4Runner’s power mirror and cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Pilot has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Pilot’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The 4Runner’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Pilot Elite/Black Edition’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Pilot has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the 4Runner only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Pilot’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the 4Runner’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

The Pilot has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 4Runner has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Limited/TRD Pro.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Pilot detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 4Runner doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

When the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The 4Runner’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Pilot Elite/Black Edition has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 4Runner offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Pilot and the 4Runner offer available heated front seats. The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition also has standard heated second row seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated second row seats aren’t available in the 4Runner.

On extremely cold winter days, the Pilot Elite’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The 4Runner doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Pilot has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 4Runner doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Pilot owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Pilot will cost $565 less than the 4Runner over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the 4Runner because it costs $37 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the 4Runner, including $76 less for a water pump, $85 less for a starter, $91 less for fuel injection and $1245 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

4Runner

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Toyota 4Runner by 14% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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