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The Toyota Highlander stacks up very well against the competition, including the Ford Explorer — helping it become one of the best-selling midsize SUVs. There are multiple strengths of the Highlander, but there’s one in particular that gives it an edge. The 2023 Toyota Highlander has one big benefit over the 2023 Ford Explorer: a complimentary maintenance plan.

Unlike the 2023 Ford Explorer, the 2023 Toyota Highlander has a complimentary maintenance plan

Front angle view of white 2023 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV
2023 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

Toyota vehicles have a much-deserved reputation for lasting many miles and years. And to help ensure this longevity and keep a car performing well — it’s important to follow the maintenance schedule. The 2023 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV makes this a more affordable endeavor with its complimentary maintenance plan.

ToyotaCare for the Highlander, which is good for two years or 25,000 miles, covers factory-scheduled maintenance for free. This includes oil changes, tire rotations, multipoint inspections, and topping off the fluids. Conversely, the 2023 Ford Explorer doesn’t offer a complimentary maintenance plan. So, for all these services that are free for the Highlander, you have to cover the cost if you get the Explorer.

2023 Highlander is more reliable than the 2023 Explorer

Front angle view of red 2023 Ford Explorer midsize SUV
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

Further adding to the affordability of owning a 2023 Toyota Highlander is reliability. It’s more reliable than the 2023 Ford Explorer. Consumer Reports recommends the Highlander — due in part to it earning high marks for reliability. However, CR doesn’t recommend the Explorer, which is mostly because the organization ranks the midsize SUV as one of the lowest for reliability.

Also, RepairPal gave the Highlander a score of 4/5 for reliability, compared to 3.5/5 for the Explorer. Additionally, the site estimates that the average annual cost of repairs is lower for the Highlander ($489 vs. $732). So, not only do you get free maintenance with the Highlander, you’ll likely pay less for repairs too. 

Other advantages of the Toyota Highlander over the Ford Explorer

Related 2023 Toyota Highlander: Features, Price, Specs, & Overview

2023 Toyota Highlander: Features, Price, Specs, & Overview

In addition to its free maintenance plan and higher reliability, the 2023 Highlander midsize SUV has some other advantages over the 2023 Explorer. This includes maneuverability. With its slightly tighter turning circle, the Highlander is more maneuverable for navigating traffic, parking, and driving through curves and around corners.

Also, the Highlander is more efficient, especially with its hybrid powertrain. The Highlander Hybrid gets an estimated gas mileage of up to 36 combined mpg, while the fully gas-powered model gets up to 25 combined mpg. In comparison, the Explorer has an estimated fuel economy of up to 27 combined mpg for the hybrid model and 24 combined mpg for the fully gas-powered version.

Furthermore, the Highlander has a marginally lower starting price. It starts at $36,420 MSRP, compared to $36,760 MSRP for the Explorer

With its complimentary maintenance plan, the 2023 Toyota Highlander has a big benefit over the 2023 Ford Explorer. The free maintenance is something to keep in mind for midsize SUV shoppers. Also, other factors that add to the affordability of the Highlander include its higher reliability and gas mileage, as well as its lower starting price.