The 2019 Highlander Vs 2019 Pilot continues to offer top safety scores, remarkable space inside, and all-round versatility; it’s still one of the best small SUVs, and a good value for money.
Compared to metal, the Pilot’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander has a metal gas tank.
Both the Pilot and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.
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New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.
The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Highlander have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.
The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 95 more horsepower (280 vs. 185) and 78 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.
Fuel Economy and Range
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The Highlander doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
The Pilot has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.
Tires and Wheels
The Pilot Touring/Elite’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Pilot Touring/Elite has standard 20-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.
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The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Highlander doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
Suspension and Handling
The Pilot has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The Pilot (except LX)’s optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Highlander doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Pilot’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Highlander (111 inches vs. 109.8 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.
The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the Highlander LE pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander LE (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).
The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Highlander doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Pilot has 8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander (152.9 vs. 144.9).
The Pilot has 1.9 inches more front hip room, 2.7 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, .2 inches more rear hip room, 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room, 3 inches more third row headroom, 4.2 inches more third row legroom and 2.6 inches more third row shoulder room than the Highlander.
The Pilot has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Highlander doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Pilot Touring/Elite’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Pilot’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (3500 vs. 1500 pounds).
The Pilot has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Highlander doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.
The Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver’s house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
The Pilot Touring/Elite’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
If the windows are left open on the Pilot the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Pilot’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
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When the Pilot Touring/Elite is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Pilot Elite has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because it costs $198 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the Highlander, including $4 less for a starter, $164 less for fuel injection and $1321 less for a timing belt/chain.
The best value in 2019 Highlander Vs 2019 Pilot is a base model with manual gearbox, but it’s still decently priced after adding fancy audio, leather, and a moonroof.