Greene Ford Compares 2017 Ford Explorer VS 2017 Toyota Highlander Near Flowery Branch, GA

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2017 Ford Explorer

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VS

2017 Toyota Highlander

Safety Comparison

The middle row seatbelts optional on the Explorer inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The Highlander doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

Both the Explorer and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Ford Explorer is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

 

Explorer

Highlander

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

214 lbs.

348 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

41 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty Comparison

There are over 3 times as many Ford dealers as there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Highlander doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

Engine Comparison

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the Highlander:

 

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

280 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.5 DOHC V6

290 HP

255 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Sport/Platinum 3.5 turbo V6

365 HP

350 lbs.-ft.

Highlander 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

185 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Highlander 3.5 DOHC V6

295 HP

263 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Explorer FWD 4 cyl. gets better highway fuel mileage than the Highlander FWD 4 cyl. (27 hwy vs. 24 hwy).

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the Explorer’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander:

 

Explorer

Highlander

Front Rotors

13.85 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

13.5 inches

12.2 inches

The Explorer’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.

The Explorer stops much shorter than the Highlander:

 

Explorer

Highlander

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the Explorer’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (255/50R20 vs. 245/60R18).

The Explorer’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander SE/Limited’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Explorer has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Explorer has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 3 inches longer than on the Highlander (112.8 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.

The Explorer Sport 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the Highlander AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Explorer Limited 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Highlander LE (27.7 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

The front grille of the Explorer uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Highlander doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space Comparison

The Explorer has 6.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander (151.5 vs. 144.9).

The Explorer has .7 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front hip room, 2.2 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear headroom, 1.1 inches more rear legroom, 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room, 1.9 inches more third row headroom and 5.6 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.

 

Explorer

Highlander

Behind Third Seat

21 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

43.9 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

The Explorer has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Highlander doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Explorer Sport/Platinum’s optional second and third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Explorer’s cargo door can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its cargo door, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics Comparison

The Explorer offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Explorer (except Base/XLT)’s optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Explorer and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Explorer is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

On a hot day the Explorer’s driver can lower the front windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport/Platinum’s exterior keypad. The Highlander doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system.

The Explorer’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Explorer offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Explorer offers an optional center folding armrest for the middle row passengers. A center armrest helps make middle row passengers more comfortable. The Highlander doesn’t offer a middle row seat center armrest.

The Explorer (except Base/XLT/Sport)’s optional Enhanced Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Explorer is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Explorer than the Highlander, including $277 less for an alternator, $100 less for a starter, $91 less for fuel injection, $300 less for a fuel pump, $351 less for front struts and $842 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations Comparison

The Ford Explorer outsold the Toyota Highlander by 46% during the 2016 model year.

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