2018 Toyota Highlander

Starting Price: $32,025 | Price yours

Above Average: Easy to use, easy to drive, unbeaten track record

Below Average: Infotainment features, interior volume

Consensus: Hard to go wrong with Highlander


2018 Ford Explorer

Starting Price: $33,135 | Price yours

Above Average: Upscale interior, large options list, rugged styling

Below Average: Third-row space, parking-lot maneuverability

Consensus: The best-selling three-row vehicle in the country


The Toyota Highlander has continued to grow dimensionally, and with that growth has come a three-engine range and added features. Toyota Safety Sense Plus (TSS-P) bundles items like Forward Collision Warning with pedestrian detection, Active Cruise Control, automatic high beams, and lane-departure alert and warning. The Ford Explorer’s good looks carry over with refreshed exterior trim and an enhanced active park assist that allows the Explorer to practically park itself, and pull out of the parallel parking spot again. Combined with the handsfree liftgate, it’s every Costco shopper’s dream vehicle. Both are well-equipped with three-row seating, optional V6 power and a very comfortable ride.

Toyota Highlander Advantages

Updated in 2017, the Highlander offers a standard suite of driver safety assists including pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. If you value safety, room, comfort and reliability, the Highlander is on track to please.

Ford Explorer Advantages

Includes Safe and Smart safety technology packages with Adaptive Cruise, Cross Traffic Alert and Active Park Assist that parks and unparks the Explorer by itself. A handsfree liftgate. Three engine choices and five trim levels. New onboard Wi-Fi.


Both vehicles are available with optional all-wheel drive. Regardless, neither the Toyota Highlander nor the Ford Explorer are truly impressive once their tires leave the tarmac.

Final Recommendation

If you like your three-row reliability sized larger than most, the 2018 Toyota Highlander and 2018 Ford Explorer, respectively, are both worthy contenders. Still we would opt for the Hybrid Highlander over the faster, thirstier Ford Explorer.

  2018 Toyota Highlander 2018 Ford Explorer
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.7L I4 2.3L I4
Horsepower 185 hp @ 5,800 rpm 280 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque 184 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission Automatic, 8-spd Automatic, 6-spd
Fuel Economy 22 mpg (20 city/24 highway) 18 mpg (16 city/22 hwy)
Also Available 3.5L V6, hybrid 3.5L V6, twin-turbo 3.5L V6
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 8 passengers 7 passengers
Wheelbase 109.8 inches 112.6 inches
Overall Length 192.5 inches 198.3 inches
Width 75.8 inches 90.2 inches
Height 70.0 inches 70.0 inches
Turning Diameter 38.7 feet 38.9 feet
Headroom, Front 39.5 inches 41.4 inches
Headroom, 2nd row 39.6 inches 40.6 inches
Headroom, 3rd row 35.9 inches 37.8 inches
Legroom, Front 44.2 inches 42.9 inches
Legroom, 2nd row 38.4 inches 39.5 inches
Legroom, 3rd row 27.7 inches 33.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 59.3 inches 61.5 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd row 59.6 inches 61.0 inches
Shoulder Room, 3rd row 55.0 inches 50.8 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 142.2 cu. ft. 151.7 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 83.2 cu. ft. 81.7 cu. ft.
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