The darling of the three-row mid-sized SUV segment, the Ford Explorer, has been going strong since it barreled its way into our hearts in 1991, and is going up this week against the multiple-award-winning Honda Pilot. Without a doubt, both the Pilot and Explorer will navigate you and your family wherever you want to go in style and comfort.
Let’s see what happens when they are pitted against each other in this Head to Head: 2018 Ford Explorer vs. 2018 Honda Pilot.
2018 Ford Explorer vs. 2018 Honda Pilot Performance Comparison
Verdict: The two mid-sized SUVs are built with powerful engines and configurations and stay within close range of each other when it comes to city and highway MPG. The Honda Pilot noses slightly ahead when it comes to MPGs, but the Explorer is not far behind.
Ford Explorer Engines & Estimated MPG
Base & XLT
- 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 at 290-hp & 255 lb-ft of torque
- EPA Est. MPG 17 city/24 highway/20 combined*
- 2.3L EcoBoost® Direct Injection Ti-VCT I-4 at 280-hp & 310 lb-ft of torque
- EPA Est. 19 city/27 highway/22 combined*
Sport & Platinum:
- 3.5L EcoBoost V6 at 365-hp & 350 lb-ft of torque
- EPA Est. MPG 16 city/22 highway/18 combined* (4WD)
Honda Pilot Engines & Estimated MPG
LX, EX & EX-L
- 6-Speed Automatic, 3.5L V-6 EarthDreams® engine at 280-hp & 262 lb-ft of torque
- EPA Est. MPG 19 city/27 highway/22 combined*
- 9-Speed Automatic, 3.5L V-6 EarthDreams® engine at 280-hp & 262 lb-ft of torque
- EPA Est. MPG 20 city/27 highway/23 combined*
- i-VTM4™ AWD System, 9-Speed Automatic, 3.5L V-6 EarthDreams® engine at 280-hp & 262 lb-ft of
- EPA Est. MPG 19 city/26 highway/22 combined*
All 2018 Honda Pilot models are available in AWD.
2018 Ford Explorer vs. 2018 Honda Pilot Price & Lifestyle Comparison
Verdict: The super close pricing and availability of some of today’s most popular features make both the Ford Explorer and the Honda Pilot a wise investment.
Longer, lower and leaner, the Ford Explorer gets subtle exterior re-stylings in 2018 that include a new grille insert with a fresh grid design. Ford has graced us with snazzy new chrome-tipped exhaust pipes, as well.
All Ford Explorer models come with LED taillamps, and privacy glass is standard for second (60/40 split-fold-flat bench seat) and third rows (50/50 split-fold bench seat). Also new in 2018 are new safety features, five new wheel options, and four new colors: Burgundy Velvet, Platinum Dune, Blue Metallic and Cinnamon Glaze.
Available convenience features like push-button remote start (Intelligent Access) and Reverse Sensing, which alerts you with a series of intermittently faster beeps as you get closer to an object while backing up. An optional leather and heated steering wheel, along with heated or cooled front seats make this the ideal sport utility vehicle in all weather. Moody? You’ll love the ambient light option: Ice Blue®, soft blue, navy, purple, green, red or orange available light can enhance your feelings while singing along to your daily music selection with the optional SYNC® Connect entertainment and Wi-Fi Hotspot; which is also handy for your remote office, with a Wi-Fi range of 50 feet.
Towing capacity: up to 5,000 lbs
Cargo Space: 80.7 cubic feet with both rows folded, and 21 cubic feet behind Row 3
Price: The 2018 Ford Explorer MSRP starts at $31,990**
The 2018 Honda Pilot comes with a long list of features usually reserved for premium trims or luxury models and one more person can be squeezed in the Pilot than the Explorer—all but the Elite trim can seat eight (Elite seats seven). The Pilot EX has Remote Engine Start and one trim level up, the EX-L, comes with leather-trimmed seats and one-touch second-row seats, along with the popular security suite Honda Sensing™ which is standard with the Touring trim level, along with satellite-linked Navigation. The Honda Pilot Elite hosts a jackpot of included features, including heated 2nd-row captains’ chairs and a panoramic roof. But more impressively, this AWD vehicle comes with the Honda Intelligent Variable Torque Management for an improved and more precise off-roading experience. The buzz is all about the available rear entertainment system (Blu-ray, HDMI, 115-Volt). The higher trims also have ambient blue lighting for mood and available Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for musical mood accompaniment. The family that travels together stays together, and the 2018 Honda Pilot will keep those family ties strong and separate-but-together with all the media options.
Towing capacity: up to 3,500 lbs.
Storage: 83.9 cubic feet with both rows folded down (Elite has 82.1 cubic feet)
Price: The 2018 Honda Pilot MSRP starts at $30,745**
But in this head-to-head, the way we see it, no one comes in last and they’re both winners. Just head in to your local AutoNation Ford or local AutoNation Honda dealership and witness these two in-demand SUVs for yourself.
*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.
**MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.