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Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander: Midsize SUV Insights

The midsize SUV segment is highly competitive, with numerous options available to consumers. Two popular choices in this category are the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander. Both vehicles offer spacious interiors, advanced safety features, and powerful engines. However, there are several key differences between the two that may influence a buyer’s decision. In this article, we will compare the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander in terms of performance, interior features, safety, reliability, and pricing. By examining these factors, potential buyers can make an informed decision about which midsize SUV best suits their needs.


When it comes to performance, the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander offer different options for buyers. The Ford Explorer comes with three engine choices: a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine, and a high-performance 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The base engine produces 300 horsepower, while the twin-turbocharged V6 engine delivers an impressive 400 horsepower.

On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander offers two engine options: a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a hybrid powertrain. The V6 engine generates 295 horsepower, providing ample power for most driving situations. The hybrid powertrain, on the other hand, combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with electric motors to deliver a total output of 243 horsepower.

While both vehicles offer powerful engines, the Ford Explorer’s high-performance engine option gives it an edge in terms of sheer power. However, the Toyota Highlander’s hybrid powertrain offers better fuel efficiency, making it a more environmentally friendly choice.

Interior Features

When it comes to interior features, both the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander offer a range of amenities to enhance comfort and convenience. The Ford Explorer boasts a modern and stylish interior, with high-quality materials and a user-friendly infotainment system. It also offers a spacious cabin, with seating for up to seven passengers.

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The Toyota Highlander, on the other hand, features a well-designed interior with comfortable seating and user-friendly controls. It offers seating for up to eight passengers, making it a great choice for larger families. The Highlander also comes with a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is easy to use and provides access to a range of features.

Both vehicles offer a variety of optional features, such as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, and a panoramic sunroof. However, the Ford Explorer offers more advanced technology features, such as a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 14-speaker B&O sound system.


When it comes to safety, both the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander are equipped with a range of advanced safety features. The Ford Explorer comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, which includes features such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Toyota Highlander also comes with a comprehensive suite of safety features, known as Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+. This includes features such as pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

Both vehicles have performed well in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the Toyota Highlander has received slightly higher safety ratings from both organizations.


Reliability is an important factor to consider when purchasing a new vehicle. Both the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander have a reputation for being reliable vehicles. However, according to Consumer Reports, the Toyota Highlander has a slightly higher reliability rating than the Ford Explorer.

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It’s worth noting that the Ford Explorer has had some issues in the past, particularly with its previous generation models. However, Ford has made significant improvements with the latest generation of the Explorer, addressing many of the previous issues.

When it comes to long-term reliability, both vehicles are backed by strong warranties. The Ford Explorer comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Toyota Highlander, on the other hand, offers a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.


Pricing is often a deciding factor for many buyers when choosing between two vehicles. The Ford Explorer has a slightly higher starting price compared to the Toyota Highlander. The base model of the Ford Explorer starts at around $32,675, while the base model of the Toyota Highlander starts at around $34,810.

However, it’s important to consider that pricing can vary depending on the trim level and optional features chosen. The Ford Explorer offers a range of trim levels, including the luxurious Platinum and high-performance ST models, which come at a higher price point. The Toyota Highlander also offers several trim levels, including the top-of-the-line Platinum model.

It’s also worth noting that the Toyota Highlander hybrid is priced higher than the standard gasoline-powered model. The hybrid model starts at around $38,410, making it a more expensive option compared to the Ford Explorer.


In summary, both the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander are excellent choices in the midsize SUV segment. The Ford Explorer offers powerful engine options, advanced technology features, and a spacious interior. On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander offers a comfortable ride, excellent safety ratings, and a slightly higher reliability rating.

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Ultimately, the choice between the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander will depend on individual preferences and priorities. Buyers who prioritize performance and advanced technology features may prefer the Ford Explorer, while those who prioritize safety and reliability may lean towards the Toyota Highlander.

Regardless of the choice, both vehicles offer a compelling package and are worth considering for anyone in the market for a midsize SUV.

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