2023 Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot Three-Row SUV

2023 Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot: Which Three-Row SUV Should You Buy?

The Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are two popular midsize three-row SUVs that provide reliability, versatility, and good value. Both models have undergone significant updates for 2023, making them more appealing than ever. In this post, we’ll compare the 2023 Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot to help you determine which one is right for you.

Toyota Highlander : Reliability and Resale Value

If you want to buy a reliable, well-built three-row SUV, the Toyota Highlander has long been one of the safest options, but the Honda Pilot isn’t far behind, and Honda has fully updated it for 2023, making it more appealing than ever before. So the question is, which is the better midsize three-row SUV to buy?

The Highlander’s steering wheel, which has also been updated for 2023. First and foremost, as previously said, if you want to buy a dependable, well-built three-row SUV, the Highlander is one of the safest alternatives on the market. It has been around for over two decades and has a well-proven reputation for lasting a long time. You can buy one and keep it for 10 or 15 years without having to spend a lot of money on repairs. Because of that reputation for reliability, it also has a very high resale value, which is great to see.

Toyota Highlander : Engine

Toyota has made one significant modification for 2023, replacing the long-running 3.5 liter V6 engine with a fresh new four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Although there was nothing wrong with the old V6 engine, this change was mostly made for emissions reasons because the four-cylinder turbo has fewer emissions than the old V6.

This is the same engine that’s also found under the hood of the Lexus nx350 and the new RX350, and it’s also going to be used on some other Toyota models as well. It produces 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, which is slightly less horsepower than the old V6, but more torque and it also has the same towing capacity of up to 5000 pounds which is great to see.

In terms of real performance, this four-cylinder turbo engine is no better than the ancient V6. It can reach highway speeds in around seven and a half seconds, which is almost the same as the V6, and although having a smaller displacement engine, it has a comparable fuel efficiency of 20 to 28 miles per gallon or 9 to 13 liters per 100 kilometers. So, in many respects, this four-cylinder turbo hasn’t moved the bar ahead at all, while in some ways, it’s moved the bar backwards.

Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot

Toyota Highlander : The engine is quiet loud

For example, while it’s relatively smooth and fine when driving normally, when you accelerate hard, the engine is quite loud and a little crude, certainly a lot more than the old V6, and you have those potential long-term reliability concerns due to the fact that it’s a turbocharged engine. Despite Toyota’s excellent reputation, turbocharged engines in general are renowned for requiring more maintenance as they age.

What’s great about this engine is that it uses well-proven and time-tested Toyota components. It’s based on the dynamic Force engine family, which includes the same 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine found in the Camry, RAV4, and several other Toyota models that are known for being extremely reliable in any case.

Even if I wish Toyota had remained with the original V6, neither the V6 nor the four-cylinder turbo would have been my first choice for the Highlander. If I were to buy a Highlander, there is little doubt that the engine I would choose is the optional hybrid, which is not available in the Pilot Highlander. Toyota Synergy drive hybrid system utilizes a normally aspirated 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine with a two motor hybrid system and an ECVT to provide a total system output of roughly 245 horsepower.

Toyota Highlander : Incredible Fuel Economy

The first key advantage of the Highlander Hybrid is its excellent fuel efficiency. It can achieve around 35 miles per gallon or 7 liters per 100 kilometers, which is amazing for a large three-row SUV like this. On top of that, it performs extremely well; it’s very smooth and refined when driven normally, and it has an excellent reputation for reliability. It’s not known for having major repair issues, and it’s known for lasting a very long time.

The only real downside to it is that it doesn’t produce all that much power, which you notice a lot more when you load up this car with a lot of passengers and cargo. However, in practice, it is not significantly slower than the standard engine. In any event, I am more than willing to give a small bit of performance for significantly greater fuel economy, which is quite essential to many purchasers.

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Toyota Highlander : Very Well Designed

When it comes to the Highlander’s interior, there are some high and low aspects. On the plus side, this is a very well built interior space with plenty of storage space, it’s simple and easy to use, and the control arrangement is excellent.

Toyota Highlander : Brand New Infotainment system

Toyota has also made some nice updates for 2023, including a brand new infotainment system with an 8-inch screen on lower trim models and a large 12-inch screen on higher trim models. Both screens come with the latest Toyota multimedia interface, which is a huge upgrade over the system Toyota was using previously, as well as Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Highlander is also a highly well-equipped SUV, with a comprehensive list of active safety measures as part of Toyota safety sense, which is fantastic.

Toyota Highlander :  Interior space

However, the Highlander’s interior has certain shortcomings, particularly in terms of internal room and cargo space, while space in the first and second row seats is adequate. The third row seats are obviously on the small side, and there isn’t a lot of cargo space, but I can see this working absolutely fine for a lot of families. if you desire the most capacious three-row SUV . The Highlander is not going to be the one. So, while the Highlander has a lot of nice things going for it, how does it stand up against the new Honda Pilot? It’s time to get behind the wheel and find out.

Honda Pilot : Redesigned Exterior and Interior

As previously stated, Honda has entirely revamped the Pilot for 2023, giving it a bolder, blockier, more rugged SUV style while also expanding the overall dimensions slightly. Those who value practicality above all else should be pleased with the Pilot because it was already one of the largest and most roomy mid-sized SUVs available, so the fact that Honda has made it even roomier than before is a very positive thing.

Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot : Engine

But Honda hasn’t just changed the look and size of the Pilot; it’s also got a fresh new engine under the hood. The Pilot now features a naturally aspirated 3.5 liter V6 engine that delivers 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. As with the previous generation V6, this is a naturally aspirated non-turbo engine, but it now has twin overhead cams and direct fuel injection, both of which I particularly appreciate.

First and foremost, it’s naturally aspirated rather than turbocharged, which is great for longevity and lowering repair costs. It’s also incredibly smooth and refined; having a V6 engine in a big SUV like this feels great, and it’s a noticeable difference from the Highlander’s four-cylinder turbo.

Although this engine is not turbocharged, it is direct fuel injection, which means that carbon buildup could become an issue down the road, and it, like the old V6, continues to use a timing belt rather than a timing chain, which means that you will eventually have to replace the timing belt at 100,000 miles or 160,000 kilometers, which is unusual for a brand new vehicle.

Apart from that, I’m a major admirer of this engine. Honda has long been known for producing some of the best and most reliable engines on the planet, and I’m confident that this will be another great example. In addition to the new V6, we have a smooth shifting Honda design 10-speed automatic transmission and the option of front wheel or all-wheel drive or standard all-wheel drive in Canada. This V6 engine can get around 19 to 27 miles per gallon or 9.5 to 13 liters per 100 kilometers owing to the 10 gear transmission, which is quite comparable to the four-cylinder turbo featured in the Highlander.

Honda Pilot : Great Driving Experience

Another advantage of hiring a pilot is that you will get valuable driving experience. Overall, the Pilot feels extremely well balanced. It has a very smooth and comfortable ride and surprisingly good handling, which is something that Honda is very well known for. Overall, the ride and handling combination is certainly better than what you get in the Highlander.

If you really want, you can also get the Pilot in a more off-road oriented trail sport trim, which comes with all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels and a tweaked all-wheel drive system. Now, I know it’s sort of a fad these days to provide some kind of off-road package on a lot of SUVs, but I don’t view the Pilot as that kind of SUV, but it’s available if that’s what you’re into in addition to having a wonderful Driving Experience.

Honda Pilot Very well Designed and spacious interior

The interior of the cockpit is likewise extremely beautifully built and roomy. The main control arrangement is pretty similar to previous Honda vehicles, which means we get a very fine digital display behind the steering wheel as well as an optional 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a superb user interface with Wireless Apple carplay and Android auto. You also have a simple temperature control arrangement and a lot of wonderful storage space. The Honda is also excellent.

Honda Pilot : Lot of Safety Features and Well spacious

When it comes to safety, it has a number of active safety technologies as part of Honda sense, which is wonderful, but it’s the interior spaciousness and cargo space that truly set the Pilot apart from the Highlander. Not only is there plenty of space in the first and second rows. However, you also have a roomy third row seat that can easily seat people.

Honda Pilot : Large Cargo Space

You also have plenty of cargo space behind the third row seat and when you fold the seats down you have a huge cargo area that can hold a lot of stuff. Perhaps my favorite feature of the Pilot is that you don’t have to choose between having seven or eight passenger seating if you go for one of the higher trims you get a second row bench with a removable middle seat giving you Captain’s chairs and you can even store that middle seat underneath the floor in the lower trims.

Honda Pilot has lot more spacious

There’s little doubt that the Pilot is a lot more spacious and practical than the Highlander, and if you’re going to transport a lot of passengers on a regular basis and make regular use of that third row seat, this is probably the one you want.

Now, there aren’t many flaws with the pilot, but you do get a fairly small touchscreen and, if you choose for the entry model, a ridiculously small seven-inch display from the Honda Civic, which is strange to find in an SUV at this price. You also can’t purchase the Pilot as a hybrid, which is a shame given that Honda makes a really nice hybrid system that is available on some other models, and then there’s the price. Although the Pilot competes with the Highlander in the United States, it is substantially more costly in Canada, with a four to five thousand dollar price premium when comparing identical trim levels.

The Highlander ranges in price from around 38 to 52,000 USD or 48 to 58,000 Canadian, with the hybrid being about a 2500 premium over the non-hybrid, whereas the Pilot ranges in price from around 38 to 54,000 USD or 53 to 65,000 Canadian, so which is it going to be?

Additional Information

  • The Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are two of the most popular midsize three-row SUVs on the market.
  • The Highlander is known for its reliability and fuel economy, while the Pilot is known for its spacious interior and comfortable ride.
  • Both SUVs offer a variety of features and amenities, including a variety of safety features, infotainment systems, and powertrain options.
  • The Highlander starts at $36,000, while the Pilot starts at $37,000.


Well, I think this is one of those comparisons where you’re not going to go wrong with whichever SUV you choose at the end of the day both of these SUVs have an amazing reputation when it comes to their reliability longevity and low repair costs as well as maintaining strong resale value as they age if I had to pick one specific variant to be a winner.

With that said, I believe the Highlander Hybrid would still win. For those who aren’t interested in a hybrid, I believe the redesigned Honda Pilot would win over the non-hybrid Highlander. There’s no doubt that the V6 engine in the Pilot is a much nicer engine than the four-cylinder turbo in the Highlander.

You also get a better driving experience with the pilot. It also has a lot of wonderful features and safety technologies, and it’s the winner in terms of interior capacity and cargo space. If space and practicality are important to you, the pilot is without a doubt the one to choose. However, the pilot will not be the winner for long.

Because Toyota is introducing the Grand Highlander in the second half of 2023, which could completely change things, it may have to bring the pilot back for another comparison against the Grand Highlander in the near future, but in the meantime, what do you think of these two SUVs? Which one would you choose or would you buy a different SUV instead? Let me know in the comments.

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