Crossover & Midsize

A Top Trim-Level Honda Pilot Costs More Than a Base Lexus RX 350

Luxury in a vehicle can mean comfort, technology, performance, and safety. Does luxury have to come from a luxury brand though? With different brands and multiple trims, it’s possible to find the luxury you’re looking for in surprising places. We take a look at the Honda Pilot and Lexus RX 350 to see how these two midsize SUVs compare against each other.

The 2021 Honda Pilot Elite costs more than the 2021 Lexus RX 350

The 2021 Honda Pilot is offered in five trims and two special editions. The Elite trim is the highest trim, with a starting price of $48,420, according to U.S. News. The 2021 Lexus RX 350 has three trim levels, and two are less expensive than the Pilot Elite. The Lexus RX 350 base trim starts at $45,070, while the three-row version, the RX 350 L, starts at $47,900, says U.S. News.

The 2021 Honda Pilot has more spacious seating

The 2021 Honda Pilot has three rows, and U.S. News found it to be roomy enough for adults even in the third row. The 2021 Lexus RX 350 base trim has two rows, while the RX 350 L has three rows. The third row here, though, is best for kids. These two SUVs are about the same length, at 196.9 inches for the Lexus and 196.5 inches for the Honda. However, the Pilot is four inches wider and 3.3 inches taller, says U.S. News.

The two SUVs have different standard luxury features

The Lexus RX 350 base trim has more available luxury features than the Pilot Elite, but many do increase the price. The Pilot Elite does provide some important features standard. On the exterior, both come standard with a power liftgate, but the Pilot Elite has a standard hands-free liftgate, which is $150 extra in the RX 350. The Pilot Elite comes standard with a panoramic moonroof. A moonroof adds $1,350 to the cost of the RX 350, and a panoramic moonroof adds $1,850.

In the interior, the Pilot Elite has leather-trimmed seats, while the RX 350 has synthetic leather upholstery. The Pilot Elite has a power-adjustable driver’s seat, while the RX 350 has power-adjustable front seats. The Pilot Elite has heated and ventilated front seats, which is an optional feature in the RX 350. The RX 350 has second-row seats that recline, and the Honda Pilot Elite has heated second-row captain’s chairs.

The RX 350 has some features that aren’t available on the Pilot, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, paddle shifters, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The RX 350 also offers multiple optional features and packages, with prices ranging from $150 to $3,890. Buyers can select packages with upgrades like leather seats, wood and aluminum trim, multiple memory settings, and tech features.

Technology features are similar

The two SUVs have largely similar standard technology features with different available upgrades. Both have an 8-inch touchscreen along with voice recognition as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio, and HD Radio. Both SUVs also have a Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth.

The RX 350 has six USB ports, while the Pilot Elite has two. The Pilot Elite has a 10-speaker stereo, and the RX 350 has nine speakers. Navigation comes standard in the Pilot Elite but is an optional feature in the RX 350. The RX 350 has Amazon Alexa, and it has an available 12.3-inch touchscreen and an available 15-speaker stereo. The Pilot Elite also has HondaLink, which lets the driver unlock or start the car from a phone, and an optional rear-seat entertainment system.

The 2021 Lexus RX 350 has more standard safety features

Both the Honda Pilot Elite and Lexus RX 350 come with a nice list of standard advanced safety features. They have forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking (Honda calls it collision mitigation braking), lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and a rearview camera.

The RX 350 comes standard with pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, traffic sign recognition, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Pilot Elite also comes with LED fog lights and road departure mitigation. Front and rear parking sensors, which are standard on the Pilot Elite, can be added to the RX 350.

The RX 350 does have additional available features, not available on the Pilot Elite, that can be added for a cost. Those include a head-up display, adaptive headlights, reverse automatic emergency braking, and a surround-view parking camera system.

Comparing the two SUV options

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Picking between the 2021 Honda Pilot Elite trim and the 2021 Lexus RX 350 base trim is a matter of priorities. The RX 350 may have a lower starting price than the Pilot Elite, but it has a number of available features that will likely increase that price. The Pilot provides a more spacious third row, which comes standard.

The RX 350 has more luxury features both standard and available, but the Pilot Elite comes standard with features like leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, and a panoramic moonroof. The two have similar standard technology, but they have different upgrade options. The RX 350 also has more standard and more available advanced safety features. Of course, there is also the trade-off between buying a car from the non-luxury Honda brand versus one from the luxury Lexus brand, even if one is fully loaded and the other is the base model trim.