2019 Highlander vs. 2020 Honda Pilot

Stronger Engine.


Higher Fuel Economy.


Greater Dependability.


Important Safety Features.


Better Seller.


The Toyota Highlander is set for a big refresh at the end of the year. Before that happens, the 2019 Highlander still has a fight to give before the 2020 model takes over. Standing across from the Highlander in the ring is the 2020 Honda Pilot. It has some new upgrades for its 2020 model year, including a brand new Black Edition trim. But the 2019 Highlander didn’t give up against the 2019 Pilot, and it certainly won’t give up against the 2020 version.

Right off the bat, the 2019 Toyota Highlander has a stronger engine than either of the 2020 Honda Pilot’s options. The 2020 Pilot offers two choices for engines, and they aren’t that different. Both engines are 3.5-liter V6 engines that make 280 horsepower on 262 lbs.-ft. of torque. The only difference between the options is that the standard engine is a 6-speed while the upper trim exclusive engine is a 9-speed.

Regardless, the 2019 Toyota Highlander offers a V6 engine like the Pilot, but the Highlander’s V6 is more powerful. The Highlander’s V6 earns 295 hp on 263 lbs.-ft. of torque. Although this V6 is not standard on every trim, it is available across the board and does come standard on every trim above the base. Additionally, the 2019 Highlander has something the 2020 Pilot does not: a hybrid option. In its hybrid guise, the 2019 Highlander’ horsepower rises to 306.

Not only does the Highlander’s V6 have more horsepower, but it also has better fuel economy. With its standard engine, the 2020 Honda Pilot earns 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. That is good for a rating of 22 mpg combined. When equipped with the 9-speed transmission, those numbers each rise by one for a 20/27/23 mpg split. With the available AWD, each number drops by one for both the 6-speed and the 9-speed.

On the 2019 Highlander, the V6 engine earns a standard fuel economy of 20/27/23, the same as the 9-speed that is only available on top-level trims of the 2020 Pilot. Like with the Pilot, these numbers all fall by one when AWD is installed. These numbers aren’t the pinnacle, though. The 2019 Highlander Hybrid earns the best fuel economy not only between these two vehicles but among all midsize SUVs. With 30 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined, the Highlander Hybrid beats the 2020 Pilot’s best ratings by 10 mpg in the city, 1 mpg on the highway, and 6 mpg combined. What’s even more impressive is that the Highlander Hybrid comes with AWD standard.

Not stopping there, the Highlander also arrives with excellent dependability thanks to Toyota’s dedication to keeping vehicles on the road longer. In a 2019 study by J.D. Power, Toyota was ranked second among companies for vehicle dependability. This study took 2016 model year vehicles and recorded problems after three years. Toyota as a brand had 108 problems per 100 vehicles. This is 28 problems less than the industry average of 136. Honda, on the other hand, fell below industry average with 146 pp100.

Toyota may have earned a great ranking in this study, but what about the Highlander itself? Well, the Highlander was listed among the top three midsize SUVs after three years. The Honda Pilot was not mentioned at all. In fact, Honda did not have a single SUV listed among the top three of any category. Toyota, in contrast, had the RAV4 listed among the top three for compact SUVs, joining the Highlander in recognition.

Part of the reason for Toyota’s dependability is its commitment to safety technology. For 2019, the Highlander comes with Toyota Safety Sense P, a set of safety features that include Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, and Automatic High Beams. While the 2020 Pilot offers many of these, it does not have Automatic High Beams. What this technology does is dim the headlights when approaching a vehicle from behind so as to not blind the driver in front of you. This can help prevent unnecessary crashes.

What both vehicles share in common are Top Safety Pick awards from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Part of what helps them earn their awards is their respective Forward Collision Warning systems that help prevent crashes. Both systems were awarded Superior ratings by the IIHS. The devil is in the details, though, and that is where we see that the Highlander has an advantage. The IIHS tests Forward Collision Warning systems at 25 mph. Both vehicles slowed down significantly, but the Pilot was only able to reduce speed by 12 mph. The Highlander reduced speed by 24 mph, twice the amount of the Pilot.

With all of this in tow, it is no wonder that the Highlander sells so well. In fact, the Highlander was the second best selling midsize SUV in 2018 according to J.D. Power. At 244,511 units sold, the Highlander sat only behind the Ford Explorer. The Honda Pilot, on the other hand, was fifth among midsize SUVs. At 159,615 units sold, the Honda Pilot sits almost 85,000 units below the Highlander. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Toyota has another midsize SUV, the 4Runner, that also makes the list (sixth with 139,694 units sold).

The Highlander is powerful. It is fuel efficient for its class, and it is dependable. The Highlander will last as long as you need it to, and it will keep you safe while you drive it for years to come. With safety tech that goes above and beyond what others offer, the Highlander makes you its priority. It sells so well because it has been proven over many strong years. What more could you want?

If you are interested in checking out a 2019 Toyota Highlander, you can visit us at 515 W Coliseum Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46808. You can also give us a call at (260) 482-3730. We hope to see you soon.

Websites/Articles Mentioned (in order mentioned):

J.D. Power 2019 Dependability Study: https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2019-us-vehicle-dependability-studyvds

IIHS 2019 Highlander Safety Ratings: https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/toyota/highlander-4-door-suv/2019

J.D. Power 10 Most Popular Midsize SUVs: https://www.jdpower.com/cars/suvs/10-most-popular-midsize-suvs-and-crossovers?make=&model=