2023 Honda Pilot vs. 2023 Toyota Highlander: Classic Three-Row Midsize SUV Battle

The 2023 Honda Pilot is all-new, bringing in the fourth generation of this three-row midsize SUV. The 2023 Toyota Highlander continues to be a top choice in this class, entering its fourth year in the current generation. The Highlander might have the advantage of familiarity and Toyota reliability, but the Pilot has several tricks up its sleeve. Which three-row midsize SUV is the better option for your family?

2023 Honda Pilot2023 Toyota Highlander
Price Range$39,000-$51,000 (est.)$36,420-$49075
Engine Options3.5-liter V62.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower 285 horsepower265 horsepower
Torque262 lb-ft310 lb-ft
Transmission10-speed automatic8-speed automatic
MPG RatingTBA22/29 mpg FWD, 21/28 mpg AWD
Data sourced from Kelley Blue Book

2023 Honda Pilot vs. 2023 Toyota Highlander: Which SUV has more interior room?

2022 Honda Pilot Cargo Area, the 2023 model has a larger cargo space
2022 Honda Pilot Cargo Area | Honda

You’ll spend most of your time inside the cabin of the three-row midsize SUV you drive; it’s important this space offers uncompromising comfort and convenience.

The new Pilot claims class-leading interior space with 40.8 inches of legroom in the second row. The third row is also larger, accommodating adults in the rearmost area. The cargo space behind the third row measures 22.4 cubic feet, with a total of 113.7 cubic feet behind the front seats.

The Honda SUV also features 14 cup holders, eight of which fit 32-ounce bottles. There are also some clever storage areas in the center console that accommodates a tablet or whatever electronics you bring.

The Highlander gives second-row passengers nearly as much legroom with 40.5 inches of space, but the rear cargo room is smaller than the Pilot. This area measures 16 cubic feet, and the maximum cargo room in the Highlander is only 84.3 cubic feet.

The interior of the Toyota SUV is functional and fits eight people, but the rearmost row is tight. The Highlander has eight cupholders and six bottle holders, offering enough places for everyone to bring their drinks.

Advantage: 2023 Honda Pilot

Which three-row midsize SUV offers a hybrid powertrain?

A blue 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is parked.
The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

Toyota brings a hybrid version of the Highlander to the market, giving us a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine plus one or two electric motors. Towing is reduced to 3,500 pounds for the Highlander Hybrid, but fuel mileage increases to 36 city/35 hwy mpg in FWD models and 35 city/35 hwy mpg for AWD versions.

The 2023 Honda Pilot has more horsepower than the 2023 Toyota Highlander, but the Toyota has more torque. Both of these SUVs tow up to 5,000 pounds. For the most part, the power numbers are similar, and without fuel economy results for the Pilot, it’s difficult to compare this area of these SUVs.

That said, there’s one significant advantage for one of these two popular three-row midsize SUVs. One of these models offers a hybrid powertrain while the other does not.

Advantage: 2023 Toyota Highlander

Which of these SUVs offers removable middle-row seats?

2023 Honda Pilot Cabin Area
2023 Honda Pilot Cabin Area | Honda

These SUVs allow you to fold the second and third rows to expand the cargo room, but only one gives you removable seats in the second row. The new generation of the 2023 Honda Pilot has removable seats in the second row. These seats fit in the storage area under the rear cargo area.

This feature is unique because you can remove one, two, or all three seats from this middle row and store them. This allows you to configure the center area in whatever manner works best for you and carry the stored seats to change that configuration as desired.

Unfortunately, the 2023 Toyota Highlander does not offer anything to compare to the removable center seats of the Pilot.

Advantage: 2023 Honda Pilot

Which three-row midsize SUV is right for your family?

Blue 2023 Honda Pilot Elite Posed
Blue 2023 Honda Pilot Elite Posed | Honda

The 2023 Honda Pilot and 2023 Toyota Highlander offer similar features and qualities in terms of safety, tech, controls, and driving dynamics. The prices are comparable and the power gives you the same level of towing.

The differentiators for these two three-row midsize SUVs are interior space, powertrain options, and seating configurations. The Pilot offers the most interior space and the removable middle row, making the Honda SUV more convenient for most families. On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander has an efficient hybrid powertrain that the Pilot doesn’t offer.