2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Compared to metal, the Pilot’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a metal gas tank.

Both the Pilot and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

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 Highlander Hybrid:

Pilot

Highlander

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

149

195

Neck Injury Risk

28%

47%

Neck Stress

189 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

73 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

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

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 Highlander Hybrid:

Pilot

Highlander

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.6 inches

Hip Force

269 lbs.

348 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

304 lbs.

440 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

16 inches

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

Reliability

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

Fuel Economy and Range

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

The Pilot has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (19.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops shorter than the Highlander Hybrid:

Pilot

Highlander

70 to 0 MPH

180 feet

187 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition has standard 20-inch wheels. The Highlander Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Pilot 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 Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

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 Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid (111 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander Hybrid.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .80 G’s, while the Highlander Hybrid Limited pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander Hybrid Limited (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.2 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 650 to 800 pounds less than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

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

Passenger Space

The Pilot has 8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander Hybrid (152.9 vs. 144.9).

The Pilot has 1.9 inches more front hip room, 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, .2 inches more rear hip room, 3 inches more rear shoulder room, 3 inches more third row headroom, 5.2 inches more third row legroom and 2.6 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander Hybrid.

Pilot

Highlander Hybrid

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

83.7 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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is limited to 3500 pounds. The Pilot 4WD offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the Pilot the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander Hybrid can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Highlander Hybrid’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 Highlander Hybrid’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Model Availability

The Pilot is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Pilot owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Pilot will cost $475 to $1940 less than the Highlander Hybrid over a five-year period.

Recommendations

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

Pilot

Highlander Hybrid

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

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

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