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Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander

tornadogtornadog Posts: 80
I have a 08 Honda CRV LX. We are having another addition in our family and we wanted an SUV that can seat at least 7 without putting too much strain on my pocket. I have a general bias towards Honda cars, but all the tests and reviews seem to think the Highlander is ahead. I dont see too many user reviews for the 2010 Pilot. Anyone care to help me out?


  • bigdadi118bigdadi118 Posts: 1,207
    reviews for the 2010 Pilot? Yopu can pretty much use the reviews for the 2009, majoritily no change.
  • zdogszdogs Posts: 18
    Just got an '09 Pilot EX for my growing family and I really like it. (Although we had an '03 Highlander Limited several years ago and liked it, too.) I've never been in the new Highlander and understand it's bigger than the '03, but I still don't think it has as much space as the Pilot. Plus, the 3rd row seat in the Highlander is not a split-fold meaning the entire seat is either up or down. The split-fold 3rd row in the Pilot is really convenient. It may just come down to what options are must-haves for you. I do like the simplicity of the Honda configurations, but I wish they had one more level between the EX and the Touring. I wish they had a true EX-L (meaning the EX with the addition of leather seats only). They could then do an EX-LS that was more like today's EX-L that includes the sunroof and the other things. I would have liked the leather, but ended up going with the EX because I couldn't see paying an extra $3,500 when all I really wanted was the leather seats.
  • tornadogtornadog Posts: 80
    thank you for your feedback. I have always been a Honda person. Whats additional in the EX trim over the LX trim. If I may ask how much did u end up paying for it?
  • jpettibonejpettibone Posts: 51
    We were in the same situation (owned a CR-V), and got the Highlander instead. Part of that was because of how Honda treated us when our A/C exploded, but part of it was also because the Highlander was a more manageable size, got better gas mileage (v-6 & 4 cyl), and generally performs better. Coming from the CR-V, the new Pilot was simply larger than I wanted to drive & park. I might have gone with the older pilot, but the new one is just too big. Test drive both to see what you think.
  • tornadogtornadog Posts: 80
    For me, the seating capacity is a huge reason for going from the crv. Absolutely need 6+ capacity. I havent drivn either but the Highlander looks like it would be a tight squeeze for seven adults, while the Pilot looks much larger and roomy.
  • zdogszdogs Posts: 18
    Going to the EX from the LX adds:
    -Fog Lights
    -Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control System with Humidity Control And Air Filtration
    -Driver's Seat with 10-Way Power Adjustment, Including Power Lumbar Support
    -AM/FM/6-Disc Audio System with 7 Speakers, Including Subwoofer
    -XM® Radio
    -17-Inch Machine-Finished Alloy Wheels

    I think the alloys, better audio system, and rear air are definitely worth the extra cost (I can't stand the steel wheels on the LX). As jpettibone says though, the Highlander may be a little more maneuverable than the Pilot, but I really wanted the extra space. I moved to the Pilot from an Accord and I've had no trouble with the extra size. Again though, with Toyota, you can add individual options for the most part and configure the car how you want rather than having to go with Honda's pre-configured packages. As for pricing, I think I got a great deal on one of the last '09s the dealer had in stock. Got an EX for $25,250 right at the end of June.
  • kharriskharris Posts: 41
    I bought an 09 Highlander sport in April and am pleased with it. However, I looked at and drove the 09 Pilot EXL and you definitely get more for your money with the Pilot. It has noticeably more interior room, included standard features such as roof rack cross rails, body side moldings, dual exhaust system, more sophisticated AWD system. So why didn't I get it? My small old house has a small old garage and I would have to get out and fold the side mirrors(or at least one of them) each time I went in or out. The Pilot is considerably higher and wider than the Highlander. It's also not quite as nimble and a bit more sluggish. The engine has a timing belt rather than a chain which requires an expensive replacement at specified time/mileage intervals. Still, as I said, more for your money.
  • tornadogtornadog Posts: 80
    after test driving both, I am inclined towards the Pilot, but does not look like I can get a good deal on the Pilots now. So I may go for the highlander if I can get a good enough deal, or even get the CX-9 which I have yet to testdrive.
  • ptf205ptf205 Posts: 8
    Just thought I'd throw my 2c in if anyone finds it helpful. My wife and I test drove the Pilot (EX-L) and the Highlander (base) today. We went in thinking we'd end up with the Pilot because it has a little extra room, but both were surprised when we came away liking the Highlander better hands down. Relative to the Highlander, we both felt the Pilot felt more like driving a truck. The Highlander handled much better. The 3rd row seat in both is too small to be used on a regular basis (in our opinion), but it's a nice feature to have if you just want to cart a bunch of people short distances once in a while. Pilot 3rd row was a bit roomier, but still not big enough to be used regularly, so we didn't think it made much difference.
  • apex1123apex1123 Posts: 6
    We also test drove the Pilot EX-L and the Highlander Limited and my wife and I both liked the Highlander as it had better acceleration, was easier to see out of overall seemed like a better made car. The Pilot is also nice but does have many plastic parts inside like the door handles and parts of the doors. The one thing the Pilot has that we like better than then Highlander is the child LATCH in the middle seat of the second row. We have read that it the safest position to put your child and since we have a 7 month year old this is an important feature to us. Sure we could probably just use the seat belt but the LATCH makes it so much easier. Does anyone know if I can use the two inside LATCH's from the outboard seats instead? We also like the seats in the Pilot better. The highlander from what we have read also has the added advantage of having a timing chain rather than a belt which will save alot of money 4-5 years later.
  • tornadogtornadog Posts: 80
    i finally decided to go with the Pilot. Its much more spacious than the Highlander. The Pilot to me felt like a steady vehicle, the highlander was too light and shaky on turns. I also liked the overall construction and design on the Pilot. Bought the EX Dark Cherry. The third row is also much comfortable in the Pilot, which is the biggest reason to go from the CRV.
  • Which SUV has the timing belt rather than a chain? Had a SUV that had a chain that needed to be replaced and was over a few thousand dollars. Would rather go with the belt from now on. . . so info on between the Pilot and Highlander would help! Thanks!!
  • Its my understanding that the Highlander V6 has a chain and the Highlander v4 has a belt. The Pilot is suppose to have a belt. Belts need to be replaced at a certain milage amount, usually around 90K, chains are suppose to last but unfortunately your did not.
  • mdhuttonmdhutton Posts: 195
    From the FAQ section of Toyota's website, and another thread here:

    Highlander Gas:
    2001-2007 4 Cylinder Chain
    2001-2007 V6 Belt
    2008 V6 Chain

    Highlander Hybrid:
    2006-2008 V6 Belt
  • kharriskharris Posts: 41
    As you have seen from the replies, the Pilot has a timing belt and the Highlander has the timing chain. Long term data has shown that timing chains have a much longer service life than timing belts, and that chains rarely fail(despite your experience). I am personally familiar with several cars that had their timing belts break but have never personally known of a timing chain that broke. Also, a broken timing belt only causes expensive engine damage in what is called an interference type engine(which is what the Honda V6 is). A non-interference engine does not get this kind of damage if its timing belt should break.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Timing chains don't break, they just get loose enough due to wear that they become extremely noisy. And if that is not corrected they often jump a tooth and now you MUST pay attention.
  • zc1zc1 Posts: 34
    Our previous vehicles: Honda Civic SiR, Mazda6 Sport (hatchback), BMW 335i, Toyota Rav4. My wife currently drives a 2010 Lexus RX350, which shares a platform with the Highlander, and I drive a 2010 Honda Pilot Touring.

    We test drove the Toyota Highlander 4 times (3x V6 Limited and 1x Hybrid Limited). Two test drives were with my wife sitting in the second row. We test drove the Pilot 4 times (2x touring and 2x EX-L). Again, two of the test drives were with my wife sitting in the second row.

    Here were our impressions:

    *Styling -- Entirely subjective; won't comment other than to say that we prefer the styling of the Pilot (both exterior and interior). Compared black exterior + black interior for both vehicles.

    *Sound/Noise Levels -- The Pilot was more quiet, and it was far easier to maintain a conversation in that car than in the Highlander. In both vehicles, the majority of noise intruding on the cabin was road noise.

    *Ride Quality -- Highlander was more floaty, Pilot more firm. Neither was harsh or punishing. A very smooth ride was offered by each. Seats not only looked better in the Pilot, but were also more comfortable (comparing leather interiors of both). The third row seat of the Pilot was far superior to that of the Highlander with respect to comfort. If you're looking for the most isolating ride (with respect to road imperfections) then the Highlander's the one. If you're looking for comfort with sporting ability then the Pilot's the one. The Pilot displays surprisingly little body roll for an SUV/CUV, especially compared to the Highlander.

    *Steering Quality -- Pilot steering wheel looked and felt better to the touch. Weight of steering was greater and felt better in the Pilot than in the Highlander. Parking lot manners seemed better with Pilot than with Highlander, despite similar turning radii on paper.

    *Control Quality -- The Highlander's instrument panel, gauge cluster, and dash initially *looked* better to us, but when actually using them, we felt the opposite. The Honda gauges were preferable with respect to feel, feedback and look...especially at night time. The Highlander's controls felt very low-budget in comparison. It sounds funny, but one of my favourite controls in the Pilot is the turn signal stalk. It is beatifully weighted...just the right amount of resistance and no harsh "click" when it engages. Interestingly, my first impressions of the two vehicles were opposite. Initially, I preferred the Highlander's interior to that of the Pilot. It was after spending more time with each, and driving each several times, that I changed my opinions in favour of the Honda.

    *Child Seating
    The Pilot has 4 pairs of LATCH connectors, which are very convenient when installing child seats. Three pairs are in the 2nd row and one is in the 3rd row passenger side position. This provides a lot of flexibility when seating adults and children

    -Can enter 3rd row of Pilot from either side of the car
    -Can only enter 3rd row of Highlander from passenger side

    *Total Seating
    -Pilot seats max of 8
    -Highlander seats max of 7

    Navigation: The Toyota system looks better, but both function equally. No winner here. The touchscreen of the Toyota is nice and intuitive, but the jog wheel of the Honda works well once you get used to it. Both have bluetooth connectivity that works well.

    Audio: 10 speaker, 500-watt sound system with subwoofer in the Pilot easily outclasses the Highlander's 440-watt, 9-speaker JBL Audio system. 6-disc, in-dash CD changer systems for both, but only 4-disc in Highlander if you opt for the Navigation. Both come with satellite radio...which sounds better in the Honda. Connecting iPod/iPhone is a breeze with the Pilot, and the iPod/iPhone can be controlled remotely using the Pilot's controls. Alternatively, with the Pilot you can also plug in a USB jump drive/flash drive or a different MP3 player.

    Bluetooth: The Highlander may support bluetooth streaming audio, which the Honda does not.

    DVD Player and A/V Input: The rear-seat DVD player and wireless headphones and rear seat audio/video inputs are standard w/ Touring model Pilot ($2000 option w/ Highlander Limited). Highlander does not have simple iPod integration. DVD player is not an option if you want to have a sunroof. If that's the case, you have to get an aftermarket, headrest-mounted DVD player system.

    Voice Commands: Both have them. Both work. It's a draw.

    *HVAC -- Both have three-zone AC that works well. The Highlander has ceiling-mounted vents for second and third rows. The Pilot has pillar-mounted vents for the third row and only the centre console-mounted vents for the second row (which the Highlander also has).

    *Usable Storage -- Pilot had much more usable storage. Centre console with several bins as well as two cupholders, 2 storage areas on each front door, storage under front passenger seat, storage in each rear door, and in one of the third row armrests. It also had more space behind the third row and a large under-floor bin behind the third row. For some reason Toyota felt that there needed to be four cupholders in the centre console, and no power points or auxiliary inputs in the centre console bin. They also put the power and auxiliary input points in front of the shifter, leaving you with no convenient place to hide cords and cables once you plug your music player (iPod, MP3 player). For us, this was a big disappointment. I don't like cords all over the place.

    *Passenger Space
    Third row space was far greater in the Pilot than in the Highlander; no comparision. The rails for the second row seat are just as long in the Highlander as they are in the Pilot, but for some reason the Highlander's first detent for the seat is actually quite a way back vs that in the Pilot. This gives the third row passengers less maximum space in the Highlander as compared to the Pilot. Pilot seats 8 to the Highlander's 7. Overall, there was definitely more 3rd row space in the Pilot, and it also felt like there was far more space in every position when compared to the Highlander.

    *Other Clever/Useful Features

    -front and rear parking sensors (not absolutely necessary, but certainly welcome
    -split+folding third row
    -heated second row seats
    -built in, retractable second row window shades
    -built-in/factory installed alarm (not just an immobilizer, but an actual audible alarm)
    -iPod/iPhone/USB connector (charges + connects to audio system)
    -aux and power points (including 110V) in centre console
    -inputs for audio and video in centre console
    -ceiling-mounted DVD player w/ remote control and dock for remote control
    -tiered storage behind third row using cargo net -- can split the area into two levels

    -cargo area cover is included, and is stored under the cargo area floor
    -stowable 2nd row centre seat; seat vs. cupholders+storage vs. pass-thr
  • zc1zc1 Posts: 34
    ...continued from previous post

    Both egines are very refined, working quietly until needed for more brisk acceleration, and both transmission shift smoothly for the most part. The Honda tends to shift more smoothly than does the Toyota, but they are both well-sorted. The Highlander has more grunt down low in the powerband. The Pilot produces more than adequate power but, in typical Honda fashion, you have to get the engine RPM up to reach that power. Some people aren't used to this. In every day use, I don't find myself wanting more power at my disposal when driving the Pilot.

    *Fuel Economy
    The Pilot loses this battle by the numbers, but in everyday use they may be equal. So far our Pilot is doing very well, but we'll reserve judgement until it is fully broken in.

    -Pilot -- 5 stars for all except 4 stars for rollover
    -Highlander -- 5 stars for all except 4 stars for front passenger and 4 stars for rollover
    -both have the usual complement of airbags (front x2, side curtain), but the Highlander also has a driver knee airbag, which is a nice feature
    -both have ABS, traction control, 4WD (Pilot)/AWD (Highlander), traction control, etc.
    -Overall, Pilot has better crash test ratings, but Highlander has one extra air bag (driver's knees)

    -Highlander bests the Pilot by 500 lbs, which is of no consequence to us
    -Highlander 5000 lbs vs Pilot 4500 lbs; both beyond what we would ever need
    -Pilot comes with hitch and wiring already installed. This costs extra with the Highlander

    *Our Conclusions:

    In the end, we just felt that the Pilot had too many extremely practical features that we appreciated. I was heavily biased in favour of the Highlander initially, but the Pilot won us both over. The biggest dealbreakers for the Highlander were:

    -lack of split third row -- can't have someone sitting in it and use the other 2/3 for storage
    -lower quality feel than the Pilot after spending a significant amount of time in each cabin
    -louder cabin than the Pilot
    -lack of front parking sensors -- Pilot has front and rear parking sensors (not absolutely necessary, but certainly helpful)
    -less passenger space than the Pilot
    -less usable cargo space than the Pilot, especially with the third row up

    Your mileage may vary.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Thanks for the comprehensive review!

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The F/awd system in the HL is there for marketing purposes only, it would not be functional at all, at any useful time, except for the intervention of TRAC. I can't say about the Pilot except if it's equipped with the new SH-AWD system in which case it's the beat of the best insofar as F/awd systems are concerned.

    Toyota/Lexus has a new version of F/awd being used on the Venza and 2010 RX350 which I have no doubt will prove to be a significant improvement over the current HL, Sienna, and RX system.
  • What a GREAT review!

    We are trying to decide between the highlander, pilot, veracruz, and cx-9. Leaning toward the pilot. This was so helpful! :)
  • Wow, thanks for lengthy and very detailed review!
  • please if considering pilot vs highlander we own both and returned the highlander to dealer who took it in as a trade in and would not return our money when we discovered a major defect on car. after very exhausting fight to try and get our money refunded we decided to just get another pilot which we were very happy with already we own a 2010 touring. toyota on june 1 2009, acknowledged that they knew about the defect but said there were not recalling it at that time. they explained that the cars are built in japan and the ship over to U.S. The problem was the front O2 sensor was made out of ceramic which would eventually overheat with all cars at some point and need to be replaced. the first sign of failure is when the traction control lights up on panel for no reason. eventually your car will not start and if you try a couple of times to start it at this point it will cars the ceramic O2 sensor to overheat and engine will ignite on fire. Yes ! fire! it was our first time driving the car out of the lot when we noticed the traction light on told the salesman about it and he turned to light off by pressing the button which is located right by your right knee. My wife just thought new car lots to get used to and perhaps she might have hit the button getting in. the very next day was when she was left stranded with engine on fire. Unbelievable right. well its true. the dealership fixed the O2 sensor and was ready to deliver car back to us. However, we did not feel safe in a brand new car we just saw engine in flames. Would you take the car back after spending 35,000 on a new car with a burnt engine. We were very dissatisfied General manager of the dealership, who would do no more for us. We complained to toyota directly and they sent someone to check the car and said it was safe to drive and offered nothing else but to take car back well after months of fighting with them we decided that if we were not going to get the respect we had earned as a paid in full cash customer of two cars with them. It took a lawyer to send them a letter demanding different highlander with the front 02 sensor changed. The problem they had was the car even though we had own it for only four hours was already registered and titled so it would no longer be a brand new car to them to be able to sell they claimed they had to resell it as used. My wife and two children were in the car when it caught in flames unbelievable! Well like i mention they did settled, when our lawyer was able to find every highlander in not just there lot but other local dealers lots with same traction light on and 13 other documented cases of similar cases. I could not believe it. Our whole family for years have always bought toyota cars for their reputation of being such reliable cars and the company being one that we always believe stood behind that. They closed our case took car as trade in and we got our pilot. Now we hear of the recalls but still nothing about the seriousness of engines catching on fire due to faulty component. Hope this helps someone when shopping for Highlanders something to look out for.
  • mcgongmcgong Posts: 5
    Rather than write out a long summary, I'll just highlight the main points why I chose the Pilot over the Highlander.

    I bought a 2010 4WD Touring with Navi/RES

    1. Split Folding 3rd Row

    2. Pilot seems way bigger inside than the Highlander

    3. Locking Differential on the 4WD

    4. You get a lot more for you Money (at least the Touring Model). If I wanted all the same stuff on the highlander, it would have cost more.

    5. Although subjective, I like the interior look of the Pilot better than the

    This is my first Honda too. I have owned only Lexus/Toyota cars prior to this. The highlander just didn't seem beefy enough to me like the Pilot did. Its too bad Toyota doesn't make an SUV the size of the Lexus LX. I'd be all over that.
  • rockszenrockszen Posts: 1
    Not able to decide on what would suit the family most of the two. Here are some of the factors which may lead to decision-

    - Family of 4 (inc l. 2 baby car seats) and would consider the Sienna as the last option for occasional family visits.
    - Wife found it easier to test-drive the HL (and the Sienna) compared to the Pilot (must be the truck chassis). She enjoyed being in the passenger seat of the Pilot though.
    - I enjoyed the different driving style.
    - The HL (and Sienna) has a significantly better mileage than Pilot. (long term gas cost?)
    - Limited utilization of 3 row seats.
    - Frequent road trips/ camping etc although dont expect much off-roading.
    - Current toyota owner (03 Corolla)
    - Current attractive pricing/ APR from Toyota

    We did test drive all 3 back to back. And found HL and Sienna (due to car frame) much easier to drive (may be glides). Pilot felt safer and a understandably a little overwhelming to drive for the wife (who only has been driving sedans until now). I bet wife will get use to the Pilot drive over a time frame though.

    I read multiple posts in the forum but somehow not able to derive to a conclusion. We did initially considered the Veracruz, but left it out based on the forum inputs even prior to the test drive cycle.

  • kevin125kevin125 Posts: 3
    edited September 2010
    I am on Highland side because it has much shorter stopping distance than Pilot. Lots of road tests that you can find online have proved this BIG safety issue from Pilot. Pilot needs 149 feet to stop from 60mph while Highlander only need 131 feet !!!
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...BIG safety issue..."

    These days the vehicle with the greater stopping distance may actually be more safe than the one with shorter...

    A more aggressive ABS......allows you to more stearung control during severe braking.
  • I really cannot believe a car that needs 16% longer distance to stop is safer! Thats rediculous.
  • I remember reading numerous complaints on first gen Pilot brakes and would think it should be taken care off with second gen but looks like Honda lacks expertize on brake design for heavier vehicles.
  • "These days the vehicle with the greater stopping distance may actually be more safe than the one with shorter... "

    wwest, you're real fun to read
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