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In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Highlander are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The MKT doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.
The Highlander has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The MKT doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Highlander has standard Pre-Collision System, which use 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 MKT offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.
The Highlander has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The MKT doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Highlander Limited/Platinum has standard Automated Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The MKT doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Highlander AWD’s standard Downhill Assist Control allows you to creep down safely. The MKT doesn’t offer Downhill Assist Control.
The Toyota Highlander XLE/Limited/Platinum has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The MKT doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.
The Highlander (except L/LE/XLE) offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The MKT only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.
The Highlander’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The MKT doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Highlander and the MKT 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, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Highlander the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The MKT does not qualify as a “Top Pick.”
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Highlander for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Lincoln only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the MKT.
There are over 55 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Lincoln dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 39 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked 19th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Lincoln is ranked 15th.
On the EPA test cycle the Highlander AWD gets better fuel mileage than the MKT (20 city/27 hwy vs. 15 city/21 hwy).
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Highlander’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 MKT doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Highlander uses regular unleaded gasoline. The MKT requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Toyota Highlander, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the MKT.
The Highlander XLE AWD handles at .82 G’s, while the MKT pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The Highlander XLE AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the MKT (27.4 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.7 seconds @ .57 average G’s).
For better maneuverability, the Highlander’s turning circle is 4.1 feet tighter than the MKT AWD’s (37.4 feet vs. 41.5 feet).
The Toyota Highlander may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 800 pounds less than the Lincoln MKT.
The Highlander is 1 foot shorter than the MKT, making the Highlander easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Highlander has standard seating for 8 passengers; the MKT can only carry 7.
The Highlander has 1.1 inches more front headroom, 1.5 inches more front hip room, .4 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 1.1 inches more rear hip room, .6 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.6 inches more third row headroom, 5 inches more third row hip room and 5.9 inches more third row shoulder room than the MKT.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Highlander’s middle and third row seats recline. The MKT’s third row seats don’t recline.
The Highlander’s cargo area provides more volume than the MKT.
Third Seat Folded
48.4 cubic feet
39.6 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
84.3 cubic feet
75.9 cubic feet
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Highlander Limited/Platinum’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The MKT doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Highlander’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the MKT’s (5000 vs. 2000 pounds).
The Highlander Platinum has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The MKT doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The Highlander’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The MKT’s parking brake has to released manually.
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 Highlander’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the MKT’s headlights are rated “Marginal.”
When the Highlander Limited/Platinum 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 MKT’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Highlander is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The MKT doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.
The Toyota Highlander outsold the Lincoln MKT by almost 71 to one during 2019.
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