Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - June 20, 2023
2023 Honda Pilot

With three rows of available seating, large cargo areas, and family-friendly features, midsize SUVs like the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer have quickly become the go-to choice for large families.

Honda recently introduced a fully redesigned Pilot for the 2023 model year. The midsize SUV grows in size to have a roomier cabin, gains more rugged styling, and is now available in an off-road-ready TrailSport trim. The new Pilot is a far more well-rounded SUV than before.

Ford’s midsize offering in the segment is the Explorer. It’s part of the sixth-gen model that was released in 2020 and features muscular styling, a wide lineup of engines, and peppy performance.

In this brief comparison, we’ll explore how the Pilot compares against the Explorer when it comes to price, size, specs, and reliability. In the end, we’ll name a winner to help you decide which one is the right choice for you.

Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer Price

2023 Ford Explorer

Despite being the older option of the two SUVs, the Explorer is more expensive than the Pilot. The most affordable Ford Explorer is the base trim that costs $38,355 with destination. The priciest Ford Explorer is the King Ranch which starts at $56,965.

The cheapest Honda Pilot is the LX trim which starts at $37,645, while the most expensive Pilot is the Elite which costs $53,725. There’s a $710 price difference between the Explorer and Pilot, while the range-topping trims are separated by $3,240.

In addition to being cheaper, the Pilot is available with more affordable lease deals than the Explorer. Ford’s financing deals, though, tend to be more competitive than Honda’s.

Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer Size

2023 Ford Explorer Cargo

The Pilot and Explorer are incredibly similar in size. The Pilot is 199.9 inches long, 78.5 inches wide, and 71 inches tall. The Explorer measures 198.8 inches long, 78.9 inches wide, and 70.2 inches tall.

With the SUVs being similar in size, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the two vehicles offer a similar amount of interior space. The Explorer has more front and second-row headroom, front legroom, and front and second-row hip room. The Pilot offers more front and second-row shoulder room, second-row legroom, and third-row legroom.

Unsurprisingly, the SUVs also have a similar amount of cargo space. The Pilot offers up to 18.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 48.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, and 87 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats. The Explorer has 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 47.9 cubic feet of space behind the second row, and 87.8 cubic feet of total cargo space.

Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer Specs

2023 Honda Pilot Engine

All Honda Pilot models come with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The SUV comes with front-wheel drive and is available with all-wheel drive.

Ford offers the Explorer with three different powertrains. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The next step up is a hybrid 3.3-liter V6 engine that’s paired with an electric motor for 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. Lastly, there’s a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 motor that’s rated at 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. All Explorers come with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard and AWD is optional.

When properly equipped, the Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Towing capacity for the Explorer maxes out at 5,600 pounds.

Honda Pilot vs. Ford Explorer Reliability

2023 Honda Pilot

According to Consumer Reports data, the Honda Pilot is expected to be more reliable than the Ford Explorer. The Pilot has a predicted reliability score of three out of five and a predicted owner satisfaction score of four out of five. The SUV is not ranked yet.

The Explorer has a poor score of one out of five for predicted reliability and two out of five for predicted owner satisfaction. In the organization’s ranking of midsize three-row SUVs, the Explorer lands in 13th place out of 15 options.

Which Is Better: Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer?

The Honda Pilot wins this comparison. It’s newer than the Explorer, is more affordable than the Explorer, and is expected to be more reliable than the Explorer. The Pilot also has a much nicer interior than Ford’s SUV and a roomier third row.

While the Explorer loses this comparison, it’s not by a wide margin. The Explorer has an impressive lineup of engines, which includes a hybrid that the Pilot can’t match. Plus, the Explorer can tow more cargo. The Explorer also has slightly more cargo space and passenger space than the Pilot.

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

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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