Toyota Highlander vs Ford Explorer

    By Autolist Staff | October 1, 2018

    2018 Toyota Highlander

    2018 Ford Explorer

    Automotive Website Analyzed


    81%

    Really Good

    You should buy it

    91%

    The Best

    You should buy it

    Our User's Take

    What owners think


    100%

    Would Buy Again

    4 Ratings

    50%

    Would Buy Again

    2 Ratings


    What’s better about the Highlander?

    • Hybrid availability. Toyota is one of the only brands in this segment to offer a hybrid model so if you’re looking for a three-row family CUV that sips gas, this is an excellent choice.

    • Better reliability. Consumer Report confirms Toyota’s longstanding excellence for reliability by finding the 2018 Highlander to be considerably more reliable than the Ford Explorer.

    • More standard safety features. The 2018 Highlander comes with the following standard active safety features: adaptive cruise control, pre-collision alert and braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure alert with steering assist. The Ford doesn’t have these as standard. PLUS the Highlander was rated as a Top Safety Pick by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; it did not give the Explorer that rating for 2018.

    What’s better about the Explorer?

    • More room inside. While both models have comparable cargo space behind the second row of seats (with the third row folded), the Explorer has more cargo space behind the third row of seats and more room for the second and third row of seats. Third-row legroom is particularly small in the Toyota so if you’re planning on putting even tall teenagers in the rear seats, the Ford is a much better bet.
    • More engine choices. While the Toyota has a base four-cylinder model, a V6 and a hybrid, the Explorer has a base V6 and an optional turbocharged four-cylinder or an optional turbocharged V6. Setting aside the Highlander’s hybrid options, we favored the choices the Explorer offers consumers -- they’re all powerful, easy to drive and refined.

    • Better handling. Reviewer praised the 2018 Explorer for its handling prowess while they dinged the Highlander for this very thing. This matters when you’re driving the CUV on a daily basis.

    • Better interior. Not only does the inside of the Explorer have more space, but reviewers also praised the interior’s quality while criticising the cheap plastics and lack of Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto in the Highlander.

    Autolist’s take:

    While this may seem like a tough decision on paper, we see it as an easy one. Yes, the Explorer has more interior space -- a crucial consideration for crossover shoppers -- and we liked the Explorer’s engine lineup more. But the Highlander’s safety, reliability and hybrid offering are key advantages too important to overlook. Thus, we say Buy the Highlander.


    Cost of Ownership

    2018 Toyota Highlander

    2018 Ford Explorer

    Annual Fuel Costs

    $1,740
    15k miles at $2.552/gal
    $2,125
    15k miles at $2.55/gal
    Fuel Economy

    19 mpg (miles per gallon)
    City
    16 mpg (miles per gallon)
    City
    24 mpg (miles per gallon)
    Highway
    22 mpg (miles per gallon)
    Highway

    Safety

    2018 Toyota Highlander

    2018 Ford Explorer

    NHTSA Crash Test Results

    5 stars
    Overall
    5 stars
    Overall
    Safety Features

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

    Interior

    2018 Toyota Highlander

    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

    -
    Apple Carplay
    Available
    Apple Carplay
    -
    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 Toyota Highlander

    2018 Ford Explorer

    Powertrain

    8-Speed Automatic w/Sequential Shift Mode
    Transmission
    6-Speed Shiftable Automatic
    Transmission
    FWD
    Drivetrain
    FWD
    Drivetrain
    Drivetrain

    185+ HP @ 5800 RPM
    Horsepower
    280+ HP @ 5600 RPM
    Horsepower
    184+ lb-ft @ 4200 RPM
    Torque
    310+ lb-ft @ 3000 RPM
    Torque
    I4
    Cylinders
    I4
    Cylinders