2021 Honda Pilot vs. 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the Pilot deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The Pilot’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Highlander Hybrid’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

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, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Reliability

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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.

Engine

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The Pilot’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 37 more horsepower (280 vs. 243) and 262 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. ) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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An engine control system that can shut down some 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 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (19.5 vs. 17.1 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.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Pilot has larger tires than the Highlander Hybrid (245/60R18 vs. 235/65R18).

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 Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE’s standard 65 series tires. The Pilot SE/Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

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

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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.

Chassis

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The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 350 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

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The Pilot has 11.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander Hybrid (152.9 vs. 141.3).

The Pilot has 1.9 inches more front hip room, 3 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, .3 inches more rear hip room, 3.3 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.8 inches more third row headroom, 4.2 inches more third row legroom and 2.6 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

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

Pilot

Highlander Hybrid

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

16 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

48.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

84.3 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.

Towing

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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

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The Pilot EX/EX-L/SE/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 EX-L/SE/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.

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.

The Pilot EX-L/SE/Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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 Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/08/14

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

Pilot

Highlander Hybrid

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

n/a

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

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