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If you are in the market for a midsize SUV, Toyota and Ford have plenty of options for buyers. The Highlander and the Explorer are not new to the segment, but recent reports indicate there could be some change coming. In February, the 2023 Ford Explorer beat the 2023 Toyota Highlander by 353 units. Is the midsize sport utility vehicle segment going through a new phase?

The Ford Explorer beat the Toyota Highlander, and times are changing

According to sales figures from GoodCarBadCar, the 2023 Ford Explorer managed to beat the Toyota Highlander for February. These two SUVs have been battling it out for the last few years, but the Explorer has pulled ahead these days. In February alone, Ford sold 19,174 units, compared to the 18,821 that Toyota sold. For the same time last year, the Explorer only moved 9,566 units off dealership lots. Compared to the 22,949 moved by the Highlander, that shows how the tables have turned.

This represents a 100.44% increase month to month for the Blue Oval, while Toyota saw a 17.99% decrease in the same period. Ford has been having a good year with this popular midsize SUV, selling more so far this year than it did in 2022. Toyota has seen a slight slump in units moved of its popular SUV, which seems to have happened as the new year rolled around.

Ford’s Explorer surpassed the Toyota Highlander, and the Bronco isn’t far behind

This Ford Explorer beat the Toyota Highlander in sales
A 2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

One of the main reasons vehicles have seen an increase or decrease in sales comes down to supply and demand. Toyota was able to hold off some of the semiconductor chip shortages thanks to a stockpile of chips, but that could be catching up now. Ford was majorly impacted by chip shortages and production issues initially, leaving the automaker without as many vehicles to sell.

While numbers for March aren’t out yet, it does seem the Ford Explorer could beat the 2023 Toyota Highlander again. Even though the Highlander comes with 11 different trim and powertrain options to the Explorer’s eight, it all comes down to supply. Ford has an advantage if consumers are looking for a Toyota SUV, but none are available. The same can be true the other way around. That is potentially why the Highlander has had such substantial numbers over the last few years.

In the same midsize SUV category, the Ford Bronco has seen a jump in interest. This is likely also related to supply chain issues, as the Bronco was slow to roll off the production line. So while the Ford Explorer beat the Toyota Highlander this month, none of these midsize SUVs should be complacent in the top spot.

Midsize SUV customers have a variety of excellent options to choose from

At the end of 2022, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was the best-selling midsize SUV, with 223,344 units sold. That still represented a 12.22% decrease over the previous year. Toyota’s Highlander came in second place with 222,805 units sold, a 15.65% decrease. Finally, the Ford Explorer was in third with 207,763 units sold, down 5.51%.

If supply has been holding the Ford Explorer back over the last two years, Toyota Highlander fans might be outnumbered soon. Since these two vehicles are pretty evenly matched, it mostly comes down to brand preference. One of the things Ford has been working on in the past few years is customer retention and drawing in new customers, which can be hard to do without any inventory. For now, get ready to see more Explorers on your local streets, and check out our review of the 2023 Toyota Highlander in the meantime.


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