Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer

By

Automotive Editor

Meghan Ingram is a Pittsburgh native and regular contributor to CarsDirect.com. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish and English, is a social media marketing specialist, and has written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the last several years. In her spare time Meghan enjoys music, running, and hiking trails with her Doberman.

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, Automotive Editor - January 21, 2015

Around the turn of the millennium, car shoppers might have thought it odd to compare the Ford Explorer with the Honda Pilot. The well-known Explorer was based on a truck's body-on-frame construction, while the brand-new Pilot was helping to define the midsize crossover segment.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Pilot & Explorer >>

Yet with the changing automobile market, Ford was forced to rethink its midsize SUV. In 2011, it produced a redesigned Explorer with unibody construction to keep up with the times. Now that the Pilot and Explorer both occupy the "crossover" segment, which one comes out on top?

What the Honda Pilot Gets Right

With a strong V6, good fuel economy and available four-wheel drive, there are many things the Pilot does well. Yet what most appeals about this crossover may be the chrome "H" found on its grille and tailgate. Consumer needs change throughout life, so when someone requires a vehicle with more space, the dependability they received from a past Civic or Accord may sway them towards Honda again.

The Pilot can seat up to eight-passengers, and we give it praise for fitting a third-row with decent legroom inside a midsize crossover. The standard powertrain consists of a 3.5-liter V6, front-wheel drive and five-speed automatic transmission. Other standards include a touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth and backup camera.

What the Ford Explorer Gets Right

Owners of previous-generation Explorers won't recognize the current model -- and that's a good thing. The unibody construction gives the Explorer some of the best driving dynamics in the class, and its upscale cabin is loaded with high-tech features.

A standard 290-horsepower V6 is fuel-efficient and powerful, but for those seeking better economy, Ford offers a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder with best-in-class EPA ratings. Also part of the standard equipment is a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Three rows of seating come with plush accommodations that rival some luxury crossovers.

So Which is the Better Crossover?

Though the Explorer is a newcomer to the crossover segment -- relative to the Pilot -- it is ultimately this fresher design that puts the Ford on top. While the Pilot provides top-notch interior utility, its design has been mostly unchanged since 2009 and is just as boring as the Pilot's driving experience.

The current crop of crossover buyers want the most up-to-date technology inside an up-to-date exterior; and this is what Ford offers in the Explorer. Plus, the Explorer gives drivers a more car-like ride than the Pilot and has better maneuverability.

Our Verdict: Ford Explorer

While the Honda Pilot is a good option for buyers weary of the minivan stigma, the Ford Explorer has the design and powertrain for a wider appeal in today's market.

Take a closer look at the Honda Pilot >>

Take a closer look at the Ford Explorer >>

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Meghan Ingram is a Pittsburgh native and regular contributor to CarsDirect.com. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish and English, is a social media marketing specialist, and has written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the last several years. In her spare time Meghan enjoys music, running, and hiking trails with her Doberman.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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