2021 Highlander vs. Pilot Comparison

SUVs have become a family staple with the ample space families need. The Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are two popular mid-size SUV choices. Based on the reviews of actual Highlander and Pilot owners, the 2021 Highlander received a higher KBB Consumer Rating. The gas model Highlander received a 4.2 and the Highlander Hybrid received a 5.0 rating while the Pilot got a 3.3 rating.

For a better standard of interior features, the Highlander offers Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility, while the Pilot does not offer any of these as a standard feature. They are available on the Pilot as an extra-cost add-on.

You can also count on a better gas mileage rating with the Highlander Hybrid FWD models which have an EPA-estimated 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating. In contrast, a hybrid powertrain is not available on Pilot. The 2WD Pilot base grade has an EPA-estimated 20/27/23 (city/highway/combined).

The Highlander FWD base trim starts out at $34,810 while the Pilot base trim is $32,250. When we look at the performance, interior, and reliability of each SUV, you'll be able to see which offers more bang for your buck.

Publish Date: 12/07/2020

2021 Highlander driving through the city

Performance

  • The Highlander base trim outdoes the Pilot in horsepower with 295 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. torque. The Pilot only has 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. torque.
  • The fuel economy numbers of both vehicles are pretty close, but the Highlander still comes out ahead.
  • Drivers wanting to stretch out their visits to the pump will be happy to see that Highlander has four hybrid engine options. All FWD hybrid models have an impressive EPA-estimated mileage rating of 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined).

Optimal performance means that you can comfortably explore the depths of adventure without exploring the depths of your wallet.

Fuel Economy

The Pilot’s engine delivers 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. torque, while the Highlander base trim has more power with 295 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. torque.

Highlander has the high ground in mileage ratings as well. The Highlander L FWD has an EPA-estimated 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating and a 20/27/23 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating for the Highlander L AWD. The Pilot's base trim with 2WD has an EPA-estimated 20/27/23 (city/highway/combined). The Pilot base trim LX with AWD has a slightly lower EPA-estimated 19/27/22 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating.

The Highlander also has several hybrid trims that come in both FWD and AWD options including the Hybrid LE, Hybrid XLE, Hybrid Limited, and the Hybrid Platinum. All of these FWD models have an EPA-estimated MPG rating of 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined). The Highlander Hybrid LE and XLE with AWD have an EPA-estimated 35/35/35 (city/highway/combined) MPG rating, and Highlander Hybrid Limited and Platinum with AWD have an EPA-estimated MPG rating of 35/34/35 MPG (city/highway/combined). The Pilot does not offer a hybrid trim.

Driver using the 2021 Highlander touchscreen display

Interior

  • Highlander drivers get an 8-inch touchscreen standard. The Pilot only has a 5-inch basic display on the base trim.
  • The Highlander also comes standard with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. These features aren't available on the Pilot base trim. You'll need the EX trim or higher.
  • Drivers wanting more cargo room will be happy with the Highlander's ample cargo volume.

Media options and ample room make any ride fun, from running errands to full-on road trips.

Infotainment

The Highlander comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with an available 12.3-inch touchscreen display on select grades and standard five USB media ports. By contrast, the Honda Pilot comes with a basic 5-inch display and two USB ports. To get a larger 8-inch touchscreen you'd have to get the Pilot EX trim or higher.

All Highlander trims come standard with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Additionally, drivers get advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology. Plus, Highlander also comes with SiriusXM® and a 3-month All Access trial, even on the base trim. On the other hand, the Pilot comes with Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® and Streaming Audio, but the base trim does not include Apple CarPlay® Integration, SiriusXM® Radio, or Android Auto™ Integration. To get those features you need to upgrade to the EX trim or above.

The Highlander inches out the Pilot base trim with a cargo volume (cu. ft.) behind front/second-row/third-row seats of 84.3/48.4/16.0. The Pilot base trim has 83.9/46.8/16.5 cargo volume. Both seat up to eight passengers.

2021 Highlander towing a boat

Reliability

  • All Highlander trims come standard with ToyotaCare, a scheduled-maintenance plan that lasts 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Honda Care comes at an extra cost depending on the plan you buy.
  • Honda does offer Roadside Assistance for 3-years/36,000-miles. Toyota drivers have standard 24-hour Roadside Assistance for 2 years and unlimited mileage.
  • The Highlander Hybrid has a KBB Consumer Rating of 5.0 which is better than the 2021 Pilot's Consumer Rating of 3.3.

Reliability is important. Your car could have all the right features, but if it can’t live up to a reputation for reliability, is it worth it?

ToyotaCare

The Toyota Highlander comes standard with ToyotaCare, a scheduled maintenance plan for the first 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Honda's maintenance program, Honda Care, comes at an additional cost to customers. The exact cost depends on the plan you buy and its duration.

Honda offers Honda Roadside Assistance for 3-years/36,000-miles. Roadside assistance from Toyota includes 24-hour Roadside Assistance for 2 years and unlimited mileage.

The 2021 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid also come out ahead in KBB Consumer Ratings with a 4.2 and 5.0 Consumer Rating respectively. The 2021 Pilot has a Consumer Rating of 3.3.

2020 Highlander driving on a wet road

Conclusion: Highlander vs. Pilot

  • All new Toyotas come with the ToyotaCare plan while Honda's maintenance program costs extra.
  • The Highlander base trim comes with many standard media features, like Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa. The base trim Pilot doesn't.
  • For better mileage estimates, drivers will want to explore the Highlander's many hybrid trims with impressive MPG ratings.

Both of these vehicles prove to be great contenders for your choice of a new mid-size SUV. Which one has the reliability, media features, and performance you want? Let's recap.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander comes standard with the ToyotaCare plan to help the good times keep rolling for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Honda offers Honda Roadside Assistance for 3-years/36,000-miles. However, Honda Care comes at an additional cost to customers. The exact cost depends on the plan you buy and its duration.

The Highlander base trim comes standard with Android Auto™, Apple CarPlay®, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. It also has advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology. Plus, the Highlander comes with SiriusXM® and a 3-month All Access trial. On the other hand, the Pilot base trim has Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® and Streaming Audio but does not include Apple CarPlay® Integration, SiriusXM® Radio, or Android Auto™ Integration standard. To get those features you need to upgrade to the Pilot EX or above.

One of the biggest triumphs for the Highlander is its gas mileage ratings. Not only does the Highlander have higher EPA-estimated MPG ratings on its gas trims, it has several hybrid engine models as well. The Highlander Hybrid FWD trims all have a whopping EPA-estimated MPG rating of 36/35/36 (city/highway/combined).

When it comes to buying an SUV that has all that you need, there can be only one: the 2021 Highlander.