Toyota Highlander vs. Honda Pilot

Veterans of the Suburban War

As of this writing, nearly all of the remaining Minivan forces have been driven from Suburbia. Residents can now flock to the malls, and Yoga Centers, free of the fear that their children may lose a finger to a sliding door. A practice common under the Minivan regime. The Crossover Army has taken over the job of transporting the residents children to and from the soccer fields. Their normally opening doors, assuring the children’s safety. And their high-up driving position ensure each Crossover soldier has a commanding view of the road. Life in Suburbia is much different now. So let’s have a look at the two most decorated soldiers of the Suburban Wars, and see how they did it.

2012 Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander

Since returning from the frontlines, the 2012 Toyota Highlander received numerous awards from various consumer agencies. It’s middle of the road demeanor appeals to nearly everyone. The styling is sporty enough for dad, and sophisticated (see: Snooty) enough for mom. The interior’s really comfortable, and the ride is equally soothing. It’s not hard to see why the 2012 Toyota Highlander is the most popular crossover in the mid-sized segment.

Where a lot of crossovers lose ground at, is the powertrain. Many car companies don’t have the R&D budget or engineering capability of Toyota. So the resulting engine / transmission combs are usually a bit…’truck feeling’. And since crossovers are supposed to feel like a car, that’s a bad thing.

The 2012 Toyota Highlander however, doesn’t have that problem. Powering this maternal wagon are two of Toyota’s best motivational devices. The 2.7 liter Dual Overhead Cam 4-cyl with Variable Valve Timing, makes a smooth 187-horsepower. This motor rarely feels overwhelmed (except in freeway passing situations), and it returns respectable fuel economy figures of: 20 city / 25 hwy / 22 comb.

For more oomph, you can get the Camry’s 3.5 liter V6, which makes 270 Japanese stallions. This motor never feels overwhelmed, and it’ll make mom feel like a ‘bad girl’ when she tromps the Go-Pedal. This engine is only available with a 5-speed automatic, versus the 4-cylinder’s standard 6-speed cog-changer. The 5-speed auto is still a fine transmission, but it limits the MPG possibilities when compared to the competition. 2012 Toyota Highlander V6 fuel economy figures are: 18/24/20 for FWD models, and 17/22/19 with AWD.

This crossover is smooth, powerful, and highly capable. The interior of the 2012 Toyota Highlander seems to be torn from the pages of Martha Stewart Living. And it’s got loads of soccer mom cred. If you want the best mid-sized crossover currently being offered, the 2012 Toyota Highlander is for you.

2012 Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot

The 2012 Honda Pilot is much bigger, and more truck-like than the Highlander. From the outside, it looks like a, huge, Fisher Price ride-on toy. It’s very ‘upright’ looking, and not as visually appealing as the Yoda. But all of those upright lines get translated into interior room.

Although there’s actually more cargo room in the 2012 Toyota Highlander, than the 2012 Honda Pilot (94.5 cu/ft vs. 87 cu/ft), the Honda feels roomier inside. The third row seat is also much bigger. In the Toyota, adults will need to amputate their legs and head, in order to get comfortable in the third row. Honda Pilot third-class passengers however, can cruise comfortably (on short trips) will all of the appendages still attached.

The 2012 Honda Pilot has just gone through a mid-cycle refresh, so it gets a bunch of new gear. Upfront, there’s a more aerodynamic front fascia, that looks sort of like my mom’s Kirby vacuum. Jokes aside, the new look helps this giant refrigerator on wheels to cut through the air more efficiently, resulting in improved fuel economy over last year’s model. The 2012 Honda Pilot now gets 18/25/21 in FWD form, and 17/24/20 with the optional AWD system. Interestingly, Honda chose not to offer a 4-cyl in the 2012 Honda Pilot, so the only choice is the (slightly underpowered) 250-hp 3.5 liter V6. There’s also an upgraded suspension, and better brakes, to give this.kid-chariot much better stopping power.

So the winner in the Toyota Highlander vs. Honda Pilot comparison is: The 2012 Honda Pilot is more size appropriate for people who have to ferry large teenagers, and adults to the State Finals. But it falls short of the 2012 Toyota Highlander in terms of overall refinement. It can however, muscle a Nissan Quest into submission, quite easily. When you are looking for a SUV that is less expensive, we advice you to checkout the top 10 least expensive SUVs.