2018 Toyota Highlander Trumps 2017 Honda Pilot on Reliability, Tech Features

Posted Tuesday, Dec 19, 2017 by North Hollywood Toyota

Toyota has unveiled a new Highlander for 2018, and the latest version of the popular mid-size SUV competes well against the rivaling Honda Pilot, scoring some key advantages in active safety measures and standard features. Consumers in Southern California interested in seeing what the new Toyota Highlander has to offer can find the latest year model at Los Angeles Toyota dealerships and other local dealers.


The new Highlander debuted earlier this year, while Honda has yet to roll out a new Pilot for the 2018 model year. The new Highlander’s design has changed little from the 2017 model, with only a few tweaks here and there. Nevertheless, the new Highlander has some critical advantages over the Pilot that make it the smart pick for consumers looking for a great all-around SUV. The Highlander and Pilot also tie in many categories, as competition between these two vehicles is fierce.

Standard Features

The Toyota Highlander is an excellent bargain for consumers, thanks to the abundant standard features, including high-tech safety features offered by the vehicle. Toyota is very generous with features for a base-level Highlander and, considering that it’s only a few dollars more expensive than a base Pilot that has fewer standard features, it’s obvious that the Highlander is a better choice.


The 2018 Toyota Highlander comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, windshield wiper de-icer, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, forward collision mitigation with emergency braking, a 60/40 split second row seat and a 60/40 split third row seat, five USB ports, a rearview camera, rear air conditioning, automatic high beams, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and more.

By comparison, Honda is rather stingy with features. The Pilot’s standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a five-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, just one USB port, and a few other amenities. If you want anything comparable to what you’d get with the Toyota Highlander, you’ll have to shell out more money to Honda.


Toyota has long enjoyed a solid reputation for reliability. J.D. Power and Associates’ annual U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study found Toyota to be the third most reliable automaker. Toyota came in just behind luxury brands Lexus and Porsche in the report, which measures problems per 100 vehicles. Toyota’s score of 123 problems per 100 vehicles was well below the industry average of 156 problems per 100 vehicles.

Toyota models (including its Lexus vehicles) earned 10 of 18 segment awards from the J.D. Power and Associates report—the highest number of awards ever received by a single corporation in the study. The 2018 Toyota Highlander earns a 3.5 rating for reliability from J.D. Power and Associates while the 2017 Honda Pilot earns a 3.0 rating.

Vehicle reliability is an important consideration when purchasing a new automobile. No one wants to spend time and money having to repair problems that should have never occurred in the first place. Car owners also don’t want to have to replace an automobile early because of constant repair issues. Los Angeles Toyota dealers know this and emphasize their manufacturer’s reputation for turning out “bullet-proof” vehicles when talking to customers.



Honda’s known for building reliable, if somewhat spartan vehicles, and the Pilot is no exception. Interior design and materials are adequate, but they don’t really wow. Seats feel like they’re cheaply made and would likely be uncomfortable for a long trip. Tire and wind noise are a perennial stumbling block for Honda, and the Pilot falls victim to this problem.

By comparison, the Highlander has a very refined interior. Toyota does an excellent job of making controls easy to reach and used, as evidenced by the Highlander’s set-up. The Highlander offers a very versatile front seat, and drivers are able to adjust seating height and position to just about any configuration needed.

The Highlander’s height and doors make getting in and out easy—a helpful feature for parents and older drivers. Seats and other materials in the Highlander are of far better quality than those used in the 2017 Honda Pilot. Seats are comfortable and sturdy, and the dash and other surfaces of the interior appear to be quite robust.



The 2018 Toyota Highlander and the 2017 Honda Pilot battle to a tie with regard to safety. The Highlander has historically had high safety ratings from government evaluators. For 2018, the Highlander earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 2017 Honda Pilot also earns a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives both the Pilot and the Highlander its coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation.

However, the Highlander does make active safety features standard equipment, while consumers must pay extra for them on the Pilot. This may be a point in Toyota’s favor among value-conscious consumers.


The Highlander has some real advantages over the Pilot in terms of ease of use for drivers. Instrument locations are less well-considered in the Pilot, and the lack of a volume knob is annoying to many drivers. Toyota’s infotainment system is more intuitive than Honda’s clunkier interface. For the long-term enjoyment of a vehicle, convenience is an important factor for consumers to consider.


Fuel Economy

In terms of fuel economy, the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are tied. Both the Highlander and the Pilot’s V6 versions get 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on the highway. However, the Highlander offers a hybrid version that gets 29 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Experts estimate that getting the hybrid version of the Highlander will save drivers about $250 per year on gas, and the vehicle has the added benefit of emitting less carbon into the atmosphere. Toyota has been a leader in the hybrid market, developing the Prius in the early 2000s, which became the first widely successful hybrid gas/electric automobile.

Highlander History

The Toyota Highlander was first introduced to the U.S. auto market in 2001 and became an immediate sales success. The original Highlander was introduced to compete with mid-size SUVs such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Chevy Trailblazer.

In the mid-2000s, sales of the Highlander dipped, thanks to the Great Recession and a spike in oil prices that led customers to favor smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles over SUVs. As the economy has recovered and oil prices have declined, sales of the Highlander and other SUVs have rebounded. The Highlander enjoyed its best sales year ever in 2016, selling more than 191,000 units in the U.S.

By comparison, the Honda Pilot sold just 120,772 vehicles in the U.S. in 2016. The Highlander has historically been a better seller than the Pilot, as discerning consumers have determined that the style and functionality offered by the Highlander make it the superior automobile.

The Highlander is currently in its third design generation. The Highlander is produced at plants in China and in Princeton, Indiana.

Toyota Highlander Sales
Year U.S. Sales
2001 86,700
2002 113,134
2003 120,174
2004 133,077
2005 137,409
2006 129,794
2007 127,878
2008 104,661
2009 83,118
2010 92,121
2011 101,252
2012 121,055
2013 127,572
2014 146,127
2015 158,915
2016 191,379
Source: http://carsalesbase.com/us-car-sales-data/toyota/toyota-highlander/