Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander

Comparing the Ford Explorer to the Toyota Highlander

Big SUVs are a hot commodity these days for their ample cargo space, impressive power specs, and stylish designs.  Here at Zeigler Ford Lincoln Elkhart, one of our most popular three-row SUVs is the new Ford Explorer.  This powerful mid-size SUV equips you with everything you need, from family outings to long weekend adventures.  But, how does the Ford Explorer stack up against the competition?

The Toyota Highlander is also a three-row SUV that many drivers consider in comparison to the Ford Explorer. Still, we want to shed some light on the major differences and similarities between the two, so when the time comes for you to make a decision, you feel ready to sign for a new Explorer!

Power and Efficiency

When you opt for a mid-size SUV you want it to be as powerful as it is efficient, and this is exactly what you'll receive in the new Ford Explorer.

The Ford Explorer's base engine is a 2.3-liter turbo I4 that achieves 300 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 310 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm.  This engine is paired to an automatic ten-speed automatic transmission and gets 21 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway.

Additionally, you can choose a 3.0-liter turbo V6 or a 3.3-liter V6 hybrid engine.

The Toyota Highlander offers a base 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 295 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 263 pound-feet of torque at 4,700 rpm.  The transmission is an eight-speed automatic, and efficiency comes in at 21 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway.

The Toyota Highlander only has one additional engine, which is a 2.5-liter I4 hybrid.

Size & Cargo Space

The Ford Explorer will provide you with more overall space for both passengers and cargo.

While there is only seating for six, there are 152.7 cubic feet of passenger volume in the Explorer, and the Highlander only has 141.3 cubic feet of passenger volume.

The Ford Explorer is also longer and wider, giving you even more versatility when you need it.

With all three rows of seating folded down, the Explorer opens up to 87.8 cubic feet of space, and the Highlander only has 84.3 cubic feet.


The Ford Explorer comes with many more standard features that you'll have to pay much more for in the Toyota Highlander.  The Ford Explorer offers you an updated infotainment system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an easy-to-use navigation system that comes standard.

The overall aesthetic of the Explorer SUV's interior is also sleeker and more modern than the Highlander.

We feel that the Highlander's interior technology is a bit dated and isn't as easy to use and the touchscreen is smaller and more cluttered.

Safety Features

When it comes to your peace of mind, you shouldn't have to pay more.  The Ford Explorer comes with a host of impressive safety technologies thanks to the Ford Co-Polot360 suite of driver assistance features.

Standard features include:

  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Post-collision braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Automatic high beams
  • Adaptive Cruise Control


We hope this has assisted you in seeing why the Ford Explorer comes out on top in comparison to the Toyota Highlander.  The Explorer is not only more powerful but comes with more standard features in both connectivity and safety.

The Ford Explorer is also a better-equipped mid-size SUV for growing families or families that need additional cargo and passenger volume.  No matter where you settle into the cabin, you'll be sure to have more than enough room to stretch out, relax and enjoy the ride.

You can give the new Ford Explorer a test drive visit today at Zeigler Ford Lincoln Elkhart! Just give us a call to make an appointment.