Should I Buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Ford Explorer Hybrid?

The popularity of SUVs has meant that more and more manufacturers are finding ways to keep ahead in the market. For many, this means developing newer, more efficient hybrid versions of their traditional models. Two vehicles worth considering are the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid. Both are popular options that have many similarities to consider.

Should I Buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Ford Explorer Hybrid?

Some significant differences are worth noting, as well. We’ll be breaking them up to four categories to help you determine which vehicle is a good fit: safety, reliability, cost, and overall driving experience.

Safety ratings: Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Ford Explorer Hybrid?

Toyota received the 2020 Top Safety Pick from IIHS. The Ford Explorer received a good rating. The Highlander has class-leading safety standards like low-light pedestrian detection, daytime bicyclist detection technology, a built-in camera that helps provide road sign information. The Ford received a 5-star rating from NHTSA,  their highest rating.

Toyota is known for its strong commitment to standard safety features. Keeping drivers and passengers safe on the road should be expected, not an option. In comparison, each of these should do an excellent job of keeping you safe on the road. 


Both the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid offer a basic three-year/36000 mile warranty with a five-years/60000 mile drivetrain. The difference comes in the roadside assistance. The Highlander comes with two-year unlimited roadside assistance. The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid has better roadside assistance. Ford will offer five-year/60000-mile roadside assistance. The Ford Explorer Hybrid comes out as a clear winner in this comparison. 


Cost is always a significant factor in purchasing a new vehicle. The Ford Explorer Hybrid Limited comes in at a higher MSRP of $52,280 price tag. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited has an MSRP of $47,000, with an average price paid of $44,299, making the Toyota a much better deal.

Overall Drive Experience 

The 2020 Highlander Hybrid got a new four-cylinder 2.5-liter engine for 2020 that replaced the last year’s V6. While this new 243 hp four-cylinder hybrid system produces roughly 60 fewer horsepower than the previous Highlander Hybrid, mixed-driving fuel economy improved by 7-8 mpg to 35 City/34 HWY. The Ford Explorer hybrid has a 3.3-liter V6 engine and an electric motor that combine to put out 318 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque.

Ford Explorer Hybrid
Ford Explorer Hybrid | Ford

The EPA fuel economy estimates are not yet available, but it’s estimated at 28 mpg. When equipped, the Explorer Hybrid reaches a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. While the Highlander comes in at a towing capacity of around 3,500 pounds, this gives the power advantage to the Ford but the fuel efficiency advantage to the Toyota. 

US News rates the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid #9 in Hybrid and Electric SUVs, and they say, “The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid finishes near the bottom of our hybrid and electric SUV rankings. It offers plenty of interior room, and its hybrid system never feels short on power. However, throttle response is slow at times, and the fuel economy is poor for the class.”

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

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US News rates the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid #3 in Hybrid and Electric SUVs tied with the 2020 Hyundai Kona EV. They say, “The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid ranks in the middle of the hybrid and electric SUV class. It has a peppy yet efficient powertrain, a smooth ride, user-friendly features, and a great predicted reliability rating. Still, it’s let down by its cramped third-row seats and lackluster handling.”

In the end, with as many options as are in the market, all have their positives and negatives. When it comes to cost, safety, and overall drive experience, the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid beats out the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid.