You should buy it
You should buy it
Seats up to eight. Lower and mid-grade Pilot models with a bench seat in the middle row of seats can seat eight people, with two up front, three in the middle and three in the rear (the higher trims have captain’s chairs in the middle row). Meanwhile, all Explorers can only seat two in the rear row of seats. It’s not super roomy back there in either model, but if you’re regularly pulling carpool duty and need three kids in the rear seat, the Pilot is your best bet.
It’s newer. This generation of Pilot went on sale for the 2016 model year while this generation of Explorer first debuted for the 2011 model year (though Ford updated it in 2016 and 2018); an all-new Explorer will launch for the 2020 model year. So when comparing the ‘18 Pilot to the ‘18 Explorer, remember that the Pilot will have more modern safety tech, build construction (to save weight and fuel) and interior packaging and refinement.
Interior packaging: Despite measuring several inches shorter than the Explorer, Honda’s Pilot offers more headroom and marginally more legroom in the second and third row of seats...plus more cargo room too. People buy these crossovers to be practical...so this is an important advantage for the Pilot.
Safety. Not only does the Pilot have better crash safety ratings from the IIHS but the Honda also offers features like adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking on a wider (and cheaper) spectrum of the Pilot than Ford does on the Explorer. Short version: you have to spend thousands more on a relatively high-end Explorer to get the same active safety tech as a mid-grade Pilot.
Engine choices. The 2018 Explorer comes with one of three engine choices. Base models start with a 290-horsepower V6 and a 280-horsepower turbo four or a 365-horsepower turbocharged V6 are optional. The Pilot, meanwhile, only offers a 280-horsepower V6. So if you’re picky about your engine (or engine’s power), the Ford has more to offer you.
Amenities. Ford’s Explorer offers things like a hands-free power tailgate, WiFi connectivity, massaging front seats and a self-parallel park system. While they’re all optional, they can be nice features to have...and they’re nice features that the ‘18 Pilot doesn’t offer.
Ford’s Explorer has long been one of the most popular crossovers on the market and this model shows why: it has excellent styling, a nice range of engine choices and amenities that will make any owner’s life more enjoyable. But all this can’t mask its age, or the fact that Pilot does the important things better: more safety and interior refinement, better handling and interior packaging and seating for eight. So this is an easy one for us: we say Buy the Pilot.
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