|21/29||Fuel Economy (city/hwy mpg)||20/27|
When families need a car that can comfortably fit everyone but is more stylish and offers a sportier behind-the-wheel feel than a minivan, they look for a three-row SUV. These are the choice vehicles for active families and professional parents because they offer all of the comforts and space needed for children but still have a sleek aesthetic and nimble handling that offer a distinctly non-carpool-life feel. So they’re really a great option for those who want to dip their toes into a few categories, and when considering the best three-row midsize SUVs at an affordable price point, people often look at the 2022 Toyota Highlander vs 2022 Honda Pilot. Both from beloved manufacturers, these are two popular family cars that prove that space and comfort don’t only come in a bulky minivan.
Each of these contenders is loaded with features that make them great for a family road trip, including generous cargo and convenient storage compartments throughout, along with infotainment that keeps the driver informed and passengers entertained. With three rows of seating and space for up to eight passengers, they’re ready to transport the entire crew and maybe some friends along for an adventure. But the devil is in the details, and ultimately, the 2022 Toyota Highlander stands out as a better option between the two.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander and 2022 Honda Pilot are certainly loaded with comfort features, but the person behind the wheel has to like the way the car drives and feels. So the first thing you’ll notice right away is the major discrepancy in trim options. The Highlander is going to offer a whopping six trims with five hybrid trim options. The seven trims offered by the Pilot pale in comparison. You will have a lot more versatility in the trim lineup for the Highlander, so it’s more accessible to a wider range of budgets and feature needs.
Fuel economy matters to all drivers but might be of particular importance to families. When you’re watching your finances and dealing with impatient young backseat passengers, pulling over often to get gas is hard on the budget and on people’s patience. You’re going to get a slightly better fuel economy on the Highlander than the Pilot. The Highlander has a 3.5L V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and enjoys 21 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. You'll get an eight-speed automatic transmission with this engine. The Pilot also comes with a 3.5L V6 that generates 280 horsepower with a nine-speed automatic transmission and gets 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. It’s not a major difference at first glance, but on long trips, you will notice the need to pull over for gas a bit more frequently in the Pilot.
Now here’s where the Highlander really stands out: it comes in a hybrid variety. The Pilot does not have a hybrid offering. With more manufacturers going electric every year, this is one area the Pilot is falling behind in. The Highlander Hybrid is a fun and efficient vehicle. It has selectable drive modes, allowing the driver to choose between a range of specs for different conditions. These include Eco mode for maximum efficiency, Trail mode for better traction, Sport for better acceleration, and EV mode, which allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.
The 2022 Highlander and 2022 Pilot offer three spacious rows of seating, with optional captain’s chairs for the second row if you prefer a seven-seat configuration. So whether you need a vehicle that’s ready for carpooling, a road trip, or being a driver for a school field trip, these spacious SUVs have you covered.
The second row on each of these can slide and fold, which makes it easy for third-row passengers to get to their seats without much hassle. The second-row bench seats recline on both models. So while sometimes being a backseat passenger can feel like pulling the short stick, this comfort feature makes the second row nearly as comfortable as the first row.
Both options have heated and ventilated front seats. So on cold days, the driver and front seat passenger can enjoy toasty seats, and on particularly hot days, the ventilation will prevent sweaty backs. You’ll also get tri-zone climate control, empowering all rows of passengers to customize the temperature and prevent fights about the climate in the cabin. Each SUV also boasts a large and easy-to-use moonroof, which is great for sky gazing and taking in the sites on road trips and camping trips.
Like we said above, the second row folds down, along with the third row of both models, so there is plenty of flexibility when it comes to cargo storage. Throughout the cabin of each SUV, you’ll find convenient cubbies and compartments for small miscellaneous items like beverages and magazines. We will give a nod to the Pilot because it offers a little bit more space behind the third row (18.5 cu.ft. as compared to the 16 cu.ft. in the Highlander). However, the Highlander offers 42 inches of legroom for front-row passengers and 41 inches for second-row passengers, while the Pilot only has 40.9 inches in the front and 38.4 inches in the second row. So, the choice between these two models comes down to whether you want a little more cargo room or a little more passenger space.
Drivers have come to expect a certain level of infotainment in new vehicles today. The Highlander and the Pilot deliver on different levels, with the Pilot falling slightly behind the Highlander. First off, the Highlander base trims start with an eight-inch touchscreen, and higher trims enjoy a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen. So even those who opt for a lower trim will see their apps and other information loaded up on a large, crisp display. Meanwhile, all of the Pilot's trims come with an eight-inch screen and no option to get a larger one, and some users say the Pilot’s touchscreen is awkward to use.
Many drivers expect and even need internet access in their vehicles today. When you’re taking your SUV on long road trips, access to Wi-Fi is essential for streaming entertainment, checking emails, looking up directions, and more. The Highlander offers a Wi-Fi hotspot on all trims. Unfortunately, the Pilot only offers it on higher trims, so you’ll have to pay up the bigger bucks to access this feature that most drivers have come to expect in new vehicles.
You will get convenient wireless phone charging on both SUVs––you’ll find it in the center console of the Highlander and just above the gear shift on the Pilot. This reduces the need for messy, tangled cords in the driver’s area. Both offer impressive audio systems, but it’s worth noting that the Highlander has an available eleven-speaker JBL audio system, and the top audio system available on the Pilot has ten speakers. So the surround sound will be a little stronger in the Highlander. Both have Apple Car Play and Android Auto, so you can easily load up your smartphone features right onto your touch screen and use them in the cabin.
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