Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - January 3, 2020

Crossovers have revolutionized the world of family hauling with their sleek looks, sedan-like handling, and roomy cabins. Few have done more for this segment than the Honda Pilot and the Ford Explorer. Recently, the Explorer went through a redesign that brought in a more SUV-like look.

Can the Explorer and its shift back toward the SUV side of the crossover spectrum stand up against the smooth-riding Pilot? Find out below.

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

What the Pilot Gets Right

The Honda Pilot features a more traditional crossover design, making it a great option for families who want a sedan-like look, feel, and drive. Plus, with a starting price of $32,645 including destination, buyers get this look and feel for over $5,000 less than the base Explorer.

Though the Pilot lacks in power relative to the Explorer, its 3.5-liter V6 engine offers smooth power delivery without the sudden jolt from a turbocharger.

As a family vehicle, safety is critical, and the Pilot wins in this department with its IIHS Top Safety Pick status. It earned a “Good” rating in all the key crash tests, a “Good” rating from its standard headlights, and a “Superior” rating from its standard automatic emergency braking.

The Explorer lost out on the Top Safety Pick status with its “Acceptable” small-overlap driver’s side crash test and its “Acceptable” headlight rating.

What the Explorer Gets Right

The redesigned Ford Explorer takes on a more SUV-like design, which caters to buyers who’ve grown tired of the swoopy crossovers dominating the roads. This rugged look also translates into a more rugged personality with its rear-wheel-drive setup and additional off-road abilities relative to the Honda.

Under its hood, the Explorer is a dominant force with a standard 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

Buyers can also get a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that delivers 365 hp in the Platinum trim and 400 hp in the ST trim. The ST also boasts a firmer suspension for enhanced cornering. The Explorer Limited Hybrid is no slouch either with 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque.

Towing is also superior in the Explorer at up to 5,000 pounds with the hybrid powertrain, 5,300 pounds with the four-cylinder, and 5,600 pounds with the V6. The Pilot tops out at 5,000 pounds with all-wheel drive and 3,500 pounds with front-wheel drive.

Inside, Explorer buyers enjoy more legroom and additional standard technology, including an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Pilot’s standard equipment leaves buyers with a 5-inch infotainment screen and no smartphone integration.

Save Big with the Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is cheaper than the Ford Explorer, and you can argue that it's a better value. You can even move to the Pilot EX trim and still save $2,245 over the base Explorer.

Our Verdict: Ford Explorer

The all-new Ford Explorer is a revolution in the crossover world that gives buyers a great-riding people hauler that can also tow and head off the beaten path more regularly.

Also, buyers seeking a performance crossover no longer have to move into the luxury segment. The Explorer ST offers a 5.5-second 0-60 mph time and sharp handling.

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

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Twitter

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