• Comparisons

Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer

By Autolist Staff | February 1, 2019

2018 Honda Pilot

2018 Ford Explorer

Automotive Website Analyzed


88%

Really Good

You should buy it

91%

The Best

You should buy it

Our User's Take

What owners think


100%

Would Buy Again

1 Ratings

50%

Would Buy Again

2 Ratings


What’s better about the Honda Pilot?

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.


What’s better about the Ford Explorer?

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.


Autolist’s take:

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.


Cost of Ownership

2018 Honda Pilot

2018 Ford Explorer

Annual Fuel Costs

$1,821
15k miles at $2.55/gal
$2,125
15k miles at $2.55/gal
Fuel Economy

18 mpg (miles per gallon)
City
16 mpg (miles per gallon)
City
26 mpg (miles per gallon)
Highway
22 mpg (miles per gallon)
Highway

Safety

2018 Honda Pilot

2018 Ford Explorer

NHTSA Crash Test Results

5 stars
Overall
5 stars
Overall
Safety Features

Available
Autonomous Braking
-
Autonomous Braking
Available
Blind-Spot Warnings
Available
Blind-Spot Warnings
Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control
Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control
Available
Lane-Keep Assist
Available
Lane-Keep Assist
Available
Cross-Traffic Alert
Available
Cross-Traffic Alert

Interior

2018 Honda Pilot

2018 Ford Explorer

Interior Features

-
Leather
Available
Leather
Available
Moonroof
Available
Moonroof
Available
Heated Seats
Available
Heated Seats
Available
Keyless Entry
Available
Keyless Entry
Available
Climate Control
Available
Climate Control
Technology

Available
Apple Carplay
Available
Apple Carplay
Available
Android Auto
Available
Android Auto
Available
Satellite Radio
Available
Satellite Radio
Standard
Bluetooth
Available
Bluetooth
Available
Navigation System
Available
Navigation System

Under the Hood

2018 Honda Pilot

2018 Ford Explorer

Powertrain

6-Speed Shiftable Automatic
Transmission
6-Speed Shiftable Automatic
Transmission
FWD
Drivetrain
FWD
Drivetrain
Drivetrain

280+ HP @ 6000 RPM
Horsepower
280+ HP @ 5600 RPM
Horsepower
262+ lb-ft @ 4700 RPM
Torque
310+ lb-ft @ 3000 RPM
Torque
V6
Cylinders
I4
Cylinders