Highlander Vs. Pilot: Which 2017 3-Row SUV Should You Buy? — Cars.com


like the Red Sox and Yankees Coke and
Pepsi and McDonald’s and Burger King the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are
the fiercest of competitors we spent a week testing these SUVs and we’re gonna
tell you which one you should spend your money on the pilot and Highlander we
tested were surprisingly similar they each earn the same top safety scores
from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety they both had the same fuel
economy at 22 miles per gallon combined and the price was just a hundred and
fifty dollars different car that comes expert reviewers and guests in markets
shopper drove the Highlander and pilot on identical driving loops and assigned
scores and categories including seating comfort and all three rows cargo room
visibility acceleration ride quality and much more the Honda Pilot won our three
row SUV comparison in 2016 and is relatively unchanged since its previous
win the Highlander didn’t participate in that test because the updated 2017
wasn’t available at the time the 2017 pilot now includes apple carplay and
android auto smart phone connectivity standard on all trim levels except the
base LX what we like about the Honda Pilot is that visibility remains a
strong point and our judges love to this old-school safety feature of tall
windows and little triangle windows in each front door where most other SUVs
have blind spot our test SUV also included new school safety equipment
with Honda sensing a package set standard on this touring trim and
includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking adaptive
cruise control and lane departure warning it’s not a package that standard
across the board however the pilots interior is a nice place to be with less
wind and road noise of a Highlander and this touring trim level also has a
standard rear entertainment system to keep kids entertained with a massive
video screen and a number of video and power inputs for a variety of devices
where you really start to see the difference between
pilot and Highlander is what unique access to that third row with one touch
of a button the second row slides forward and tilts to accommodate passage
to the third row and once you’re back there it is a much more comfortable
experience than the Highlander what we don’t like is how the pilot
drove in this configuration the optional 9 speed automatic transmission in our
test SUV exhibited hesitation while trying to pass as it took a long time to
kick down gears when he needed more power the 9 speed comes on higher trim
levels of the pilot including the Turing but the lower trim levels have the
transmission that we want the six-speed Automatic the touchscreen and multimedia
system also drew criticism from our judges for having purely touch sensitive
controls and not buttons dials or knobs it’s still fare better than the
Highlander however because of its inclusion of apple carplay and android
auto that alleviate some of the touchscreen interaction with voice
controls the 2017 Toyota Highlander was mildly updated for 2017 with a new
engine an 8-speed automatic transmission this is the first time we’ve tested this
updated version against the redesign honda pilot what we like about the
highlander is the dashboard device trim which is a crowd favorite Toyota made it
into a shelf that can fit phones and has a cord management system to keep
charging cables neat unlike the pilot the Highlander has its forward collision
warning with automatic emergency braking standard and that’s on all trim levels
while both of our test su of these had the safety features it’s optional on the
pilot but every Highlander gets this technology which also includes adaptive
cruise control to Lane keep assist what we don’t like is that the Highlander is
clearly the smaller SUV in this test which showed up in cargo space behind
the third row and second and third row seating comfort judges complain you sit
almost on the floor in the back of the Highlander with your knees up and
Headroom is severely limit the captain’s chairs didn’t offer much
support and the opening to get into the third row is very small behind the third
row there’s just not enough cargo judges noted it’s hard to see how the small
cargo area behind the third row would ever be enough space for a family like
the pilot the touchscreen and multimedia system drew criticism from a review team
mostly from not including the popular smartphone connectivity of apple carplay
and android auto it would be less of an issue of the system worked good but the
highlander screen is a low resolution and the operation isn’t very intuitive
out of 14 judged categories including safety features and child seat fitment
the pilot won eleven of those categories the highlander takes a few wins to know
especially in front seat comfort and powertrain performance where the
highlanders 8-speed automatic transmission was much more predictable
than the pilots 9-speed they tied in safety features but the pilot had the
biggest spread in interior quality second and third row comfort and cargo
storage and for those reasons if you’re shopping between the highlander and the
pilot we’re going to lean toward recommending the pilot you