In the hotly contested SUV market, there are many outstanding choices. Two of the top small SUVs on the road today are the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot and the capable 2015 Toyota Highlander. Both these exceptional SUVS have the features, performance, towing power, and cargo capacity to get the job done. The question is, which SUV comes out on top when you compare them side-by-side?

As your preferred new and used car dealerships in Phoenix and Prescott, AZ, we here at your Valley Honda Dealers present our “tale of the tape” as we pit these two outstanding SUVS against each other to see which SUV comes out on top. Of course, we admit a bias toward the Pilot. But that doesn’t mean Toyota’s Highlander doesn’t have some good points of its own.

Let the battle begin!

Exterior Style

Both the 2016 Honda Pilot and the 2015 Toyota Highlander have a lot going for them in terms of curb appeal. The Highlander offers an athletic design that’s certainly appealing. The Highlander has a large grille flanked by projector beam headlights and creased character lines in the hood.

While the 2015 Highlander earns style points for an overall pleasing exterior, the new 2016 Honda Pilot breaks onto the scene with a totally new look that is fresh and contemporary. Gone is the previous generation’s boxy, upright look. The new Pilot sports a fluid, sculpted, and aerodynamic exterior that makes the Highlander’s sheetmetal look a little too heavy and a bit outdated. Available 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels on the Pilot give it a bold, aggressive look while the Highlander’s 19-inch chrome wheels add some sparkle. Both the Pilot and Highlander feature available power adjustable lift gates.


Interior Design

Both the Highlander and the Pilot give you large, spacious interiors with seating up to 8 people. Both SUVs offer available second-row captain’s chairs and high quality materials throughout. The 2016 Pilot’s all-new interior is light years ahead of the previous model, offering exceptional comfort and convenience. The Pilot’s available One-touch 2nd Row Seats provide easy access to the rear seats at the touch of a button. Even with the 3rd row seat up, there’s still plenty of room for an 82-ounce cooler. Other nice touches include heated & ventilated front seats.

In terms of passenger volume, the Pilot edges out the Highlander with up to 152.9 cu. in. of overall passenger volume, compared to the Highlander’s 145 cubic inches. Both the Pilot and Highlander also offer flexible and configurable cargo space and passenger seating arrangements. Cargo volume is nearly identical; however, the Pilot edges out the Highland with up to 46.8 cubic feet versus 42.3 cubic feet.


Entertainment & Technology Options

Unquestionably, both the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander excel when it comes to advanced entertainment and technology features. Both the Pilot and the Highlander have 9-inch Blue-Ray DVD rear entertainment systems. The Highlander features Toyota’s Entune™ audio system with Bluetooth®, SiriusXM® Radio, and multi-function app suite. A 6.1-inch or 8-inch color touchscreen display controls a variety of “infotainment” functions.

Not to be outdone, the Pilot comes equipped with its full-featured suite of advanced connectivity, entertainment, and hands-free telephony options displayed on an 8-in. touchscreen display that lets you pinch, swipe, and touch like your smartphone or tablet to control music, hands-free dialing, text-messaging, and more.

Additionally, “HondaLink®” for the 2016 Pilot includes a streamlined smartphone interface that puts a number of key functions in the palm of your hand. These include making service appointments and personalized on-demand radio stations with the built-in Aha™ app.


Performance & Fuel Economy

Both Honda and Toyota are well known for engineering outstanding and fuel-efficient powerplants. So you would expect both the Pilot and the Highlander to excel in these areas. And they do. The Pilot’s 3.5-liter, i-VTEC direct injection V6 gives you an authoritative 262-hp compared to the Highlander’s 2.7-liter inline 4-cylinder with sequential multi-port injection that delivers 184 horsepower. EPA fuel economy ratings are close, with the Pilot edging out the Highlander with an EPA-estimated 27 mpg highway compared to the Highlander’s 25 mpg highway. The Highlander’s available V6 bumps up the horsepower to 270, but loses a bit in fuel economy for front-wheel drive models. The Pilot sports an all-new, available 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters compared to the Highlander’s 6-speed transmission. The Highlander also comes in a hybrid model. Both the Pilot and the Highlander have all-wheel-drive options.


There’s no question that both Honda and Toyota put a premium on safety. So it should come as no surprise that both the 2016 Pilot and 2015 Highlander come well-equipped with many standard and available safety features that give them top industry safety ratings. Both the Pilot and Highlander offer standard rear backup cameras. The Pilot features a multi-angle rearview camera providing several different looks, including normal, top-down, and wide-angle. The Highlander also features blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, as well as available lane departure alert.

The Pilot, on the other hand, offers a suite of advanced technology called “Honda Sensing®.” This highly advanced collection of intuitive safety features helps to prevent accidents with a number of available active warning systems. The Collision Mitigation Braking System™ integrated with Forward Collision Warning automatically helps bring your Pilot to a stop if it senses an immanent forward collision. Radar-controlled Lane Departure Warning (LDW) determines if you are drifting beyond your designated lane. It then alerts you with audible and visible signals to correct your path. Similar to Lane Departure Warning, Honda’s Road Departure Mitigation determines if your vehicle is driving too close to the side of the road and will actually alert you by vibrating the steering wheel. Blind spot monitoring and multiple advanced airbags complete the Pilot’s safety picture.

The Verdict

Both the new 2016 Honda Pilot and the 2015 Toyota Highlander are exceptional SUVs that offer buyers a lot of quality, style, sophistication, performance, versatility, and cargo-carrying capacity. They pretty much run neck and neck in most major categories. And they are comparably priced. However, we give the nod to the 2016 Pilot because of its stunning new styling, better performance and fuel economy, and advanced technology and safety features. This was a very close competition that tips the scales in favor of the Honda Pilot. But we certainly admit that the Toyota Highlander is a most worthy competitor.

Experience Exceptional Savings At Your Valley Honda Dealers

Take a test drive in the new 2016 Honda Pilot and you’ll be immediately impressed with its style and quality. It’s just one of the many award-winning 2015 and 2016 Hondas you’ll find at your local new and used car Honda dealer in Phoenix and Prescott, AZ. Now is the time to take advantage of money-saving deals, special manufacturer incentives, and model-year closeouts. You’ll save even more with our wide selection of Honda-Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. We invite you to visit any of our Valley Honda Dealers here in the greater Phoenix area and in Prescott, AZ and discover why Honda continues to be head and shoulders above the best.