The 2023 Ford Explorer and the 2023 Toyota Highlander are both solid choices for the three-row midsize SUV segment. However, the Explorer has some strengths in its favor that give it an edge. Here are four advantages of the 2023 Explorer over the 2023 Highlander.
2023 Ford Explorer delivers better performance than the 2023 Toyota Highlander
The first advantage of the 2023 Ford Explorer midsize SUV over the 2023 Toyota Highlander is the Explorer delivers better performance than the Highlander. All of the engines offered for the Explorer have a higher output than the ones for the Highlander.
Engine options for the Explorer include a 2.3-liter EcoBoost I-4 (300 horsepower), a 3.3-liter V-6 hybrid (318 horsepower), and a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 (400 horsepower). In comparison, engine options for the Highlander include a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four engine (265 horsepower) and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid (243 horsepower).
2023 Explorer has greater towing capabilities than the 2023 Highlander
The second advantage of the 2023 Ford Explorer over the 2023 Toyota Highlander is the Explorer has greater towing capabilities. While the Highlander has a maximum towing capability of 5,000 pounds, the Explorer can tow up to 5,600 pounds.
With a 5,600-pound towing capacity, the Explorer can tow a variety of things. Examples include a pop-up camper, a small travel trailer, a utility trailer, jet skis, snowmobiles, ATVs, and a fishing boat.
Ford Explorer is better than the Toyota Highlander for off-road use
The third advantage of the 2023 Explorer midsize SUV over the 2023 Highlander is the Explorer is better for off-road use. This greater off-road prowess is due to multiple reasons. For one, the Explorer offers a more advanced four-wheel drive system with a terrain management system, compared to the basic all-wheel drive system for the Highlander.
Also, the Explorer has ground clearance of up to 8.7 inches, compared to 8.0 inches for the Highlander. With its higher ground clearance, the Explorer can more safely and effectively drive over challenging terrain.
Additionally, unlike with the Highlander, you can get an off-road-focused model for the Explorer with the Timberline trim. Notable off-road features for the Explorer Timberline include upgraded shocks, skid plates, and a limited-slip rear differential.
2023 Explorer has more interior space than the 2023 Highlander
The fourth advantage of the 2023 Explorer over the 2023 Highlander is the Explorer has more interior space. It has a total passenger volume of 152.7 cu-ft, compared to 141.3 cu-ft for the Highlander. Also, the extra passenger space makes the biggest difference for the third-row seats. The Explorer has 32.2 inches of third-row legroom, compared to 27.7 inches for the Highlander.
Furthermore, the Explorer provides more storage space than the Highlander. It has a rear cargo capacity of 18.2 cu-ft and a maximum cargo capacity of 87.8 cu-ft, compared to 16.0/84.3 cu-ft for the Highlander.
The 2023 Ford Explorer has advantages over the 2023 Toyota Highlander for performance, towing, off-road capabilities, and interior space. These are advantages to consider when deciding which midsize SUV to get.