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Car Battles: The 2012 Toyota Highlander vs. the 2012 Honda Pilot

Last updated 6 years ago

Car Battles: The 2012 Toyota Highlander vs. the 2012 Honda Pilot 

For this edition of Car Battles we decided to match up the 2012 Toyota Highlander against the 2012 Honda Pilot. And now ladies and gentlemen, as Boxing referee Mills Lane used to say, Lets get it on!

While both vehicles look great we didn’t like the boxy look and feel of the 2012 Honda Pilot, preferring the sleeker and more modern look that the 2012 Toyota Highlander had to offer. 


One feature that definitely stands out is the Highlanders 4x4 standard Downhill Assist Control. Imagine you’re driving down a steep, off-road slope. The Downhill Assist Control allows you to creep down safely. The Pilot doesn’t offer Downhill Assist Control which made us take away brownie points from them (sorry Honda L).

Both the Highlander and the Pilot come equipped with standard driver and passenger frontal airbags as well as side-impact and head airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, available all-wheel drive and an electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performs a front crash test for new vehicles at a speed of 35 MPH. In this test, results indicate that the Toyota Highlander is safer than the Honda Pilot:

The NHTSA also does side impact tests on new vehicles. This test is performed by crashing the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH. The test results indicated that the Toyota Highlander is safer than the Honda Pilot:

Even more, in a roof strength test performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) the Highlander earned the top rating of “Good” because its roof was able to support over four times its weight weight before being crushed five inches. The Pilot was rated a dissapointing “Marginal.”

Toyota goes above and beyond for the consumer with its Toyota Care package. Toyota Care pays for scheduled maintenance on any Toyota for 2 years and 25000 miles. This means that Toyota will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Honda doesn’t offer to cover scheduled maintenance for the Pilot. This brings a giant number of brownie points for the 2012 Highlander, as these free scheduled maintenances will help save Highlander owners a lot of money.

The Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6 engine produces 20 more horsepower (270 vs. 250) than the Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6. The Highlanders Hybrid doesn’t fall behind either as its standard 3.5 DOHC V6 engine produces 30 more horsepower (280 vs. 250) than the Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6.

Popular Mechanics performed a test on both vehicles and the Toyota Highlander V6 is faster than the Honda Pilot:

Environmental Friendliness
For those of you going green, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified the Toyota Highlander at emission levels that ranged from “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV). The Honda Pilot is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards which is great, but not quite up to par with the Highlander.

Fuel Economy and Range   The Highlander Hylanders Hybrid model comes equipped with regenerative brakes which help improve the Highlander Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of letting it go to waste. The Pilot doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Another awesome feature is that in heavy traffic or at stoplights the Highlander Hybrid’s engine automatically turns off when you stop the car, with the engine automatically restarting when the driver is ready to move again. This feature helps save fuel and reduce pollution. The Pilot doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Cargo Capacity
Love to travel? Live out of your car? Are you a hoarder? If so the Highlander is for you as its cargo area is 95.4 cubic feet when compared to the Pilot’s 87 cubic feet with the second seat folded down. That combined with the Highlanders low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the highlander much easier than the cargo, whose cargo liftover is 31 inches.


The Highlander offers 500 lbs. more of towing capacity. The Highlander offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity while the Honda Pilot is limited to 4500 pounds.

The Highlander offers a remote vehicle starting system, which allows the driver to start the vehicle from inside his/her house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle, which will come in very handy in those cold winter days. The Pilot doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Highlander has a standard center folding armrest for the middle row passengers which helps make middle them more comfortable. The Pilot LX doesn’t offer this feature.

The Highlander Limited has a standard Smart Key System that allows the driver to unlock the doors, cargo door and start the engine without having to remove the keys from pocket or purse. This takes out having to search for your keys before loading groceries, or getting in the car in the rain or snow or simply when you’re in a rush. The Honda Pilot doesn’t offer an advanced key system. 


To be honest this is one that could have gone either way if it wasn’t for the extra features that came with the2012 Toyota Highlander.  The safety features as well as the extra cargo space and Toyota’s excellent warranty were the defining         factors that made us go with the 2012 Toyota Highlander.

Winner! 2012 Toyota Highlander
Come by Jerry’s Toyota at 8001 Belair Rd Baltimore, MD 21236 and check out our selection of 2012 Toyota Highlander’s. Or check us out on our website at and follow us on twitter at @jerrystoyota and on facebook at


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