Three Ways The Toyota Highlander Beats The Ford Explorer

Both the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer are considered to be excellent family SUV options, however, which one is the best choice for your family? Check out how the new Toyota Highlander compares to the redesigned Ford Explorer to go with the right choice. 

The Toyota Highlander Beats The Ford Explorer 

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid driving down dirt road
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Toyota

1. The Toyota Highlander Has A Better Interior 

When the pros tested the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander, they determined that the Toyota Highlander has a better interior. They discovered that the Toyota Highlander offered more lumbar support and more comfortable seats. 

Also, even though the Ford Explorer has a larger third row of seats, adults can fit comfortably in the third row of the Highlander for short rides, meaning children will be fine back there. Although, the driver seat was noted for feeling cramped, so consider that if you’re a taller person. 

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The Ford Explorer had a noisier interior with low-quality materials in the cabin. The leatherette fabric material also felt sticky, which could be worse on hotter days. Wires were exposed, and the sound system didn’t sound as good compared to the Highlander’s. 

2. The Toyota Highlander is More Fun to Drive 

Both of these SUVs will probably be used by someone in the family as a daily driver, so they need to be comfortable and fun. When driven around country roads and on city streets, the Toyota Highlander had a smoother ride.

2020 Toyota Highlander driving down the street
2020 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

It’s equipped with a heft independent MacPherson front suspension with a trailing wishbone suspension to glide over bumps easily. Also, the steering feels light in the Toyota Highlander, and the brakes are responsive and reassuring. 

The Ford Explorer seemed to have a bumpier, noisier ride. It also had stiffer brakes and jerky movements. The steering also felt heavy and required more course correcting.

2020 Ford Explorer Platinum parked on street near homes
2020 Ford Explorer Platinum | Ford

Plus, the Active Cruise Control system will automatically slam on the brakes to reduce speed if you’re going faster than the listed speed on the speed limit sign. This can be pretty surprising and endangers the vehicles behind you. 

3. The Toyota Highlander Has More Value 

The 2020 Toyota Highlander starts around $34k while the 2020 Ford Explorer starts around $32k. We know, starting at $2k cheaper makes the Ford Explorer more attractive, but going up in trim levels or adding things to the Ford Explorer can quickly cause the price to soar toward over $47k. 

2020 Ford Explorer Platinum parked in snow
2020 Ford Explorer Platinum | Ford

The Ford Explorer base model comes with a tri-zone automatic climate system, which is excellent for keeping the entire family comfortable, but that’s about it.

The base model of the Toyota Highlander includes a variety of safety features, including lane departure warning, pre-collision assistance, pedestrian detection, and more. With the 2020 Toyota Highlander, you get a driving mode for the snow and hill start control as well. 

2020 Toyota Highlander driving down city street
2020 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The 2020 Toyota Highlander base model also has a 7” infotainment center that can connect to Apple CarPlay and Android auto along with an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot. The Highlander can connect to Alexa for voice commands too. 

Best of all, the Toyota Highlander base model has soft-touch leather materials along with the dash, and a leather shifting knob. It has a nicer feel overall, while even if you get the highest trim option of the Ford Explorer, there is still quite a bit of plastic to deal with.