I always thought the Toyota Highlander is the coolest of the class until last year when I had a chance to test drive a 2019 model of the Ford Explorer. Men!!! That car is just cool, you drive into a parking lot and you'll hear all kinds of beepy sounds ring out everywhere especially when you're approaching an obstacle. Now for some of us who have also driven the latest models of the Toyota Highlander, there springs the Toyota Highlander vs Ford Explorer challenge. This is about which is better or for which of these two you should boldly hand-over your money to a dealership or salesperson.
So we at Naijauto.com are bringing you an expert comparison of these two models from two of the most popular and biggest car brands in the world.
1. Ford Explorer overview
The Ford Explorer was introduced in 1991 to tap into the SUV market that was obviously experiencing a major boom at that time.
The Explorer was derived from the 1974 Ford F-series Explorer package. The Explorer car package was at that time only available in three 1974 F-series models, the F-350, F-250, and F-100 and Ford Explorer Sport Trac or (Ford Explorer trac sport). Ford Motor Company thus felt the need to tap into the success of those model packages by introducing an all-new, standalone full-size model, the Ford Explorer SUV.
The Explorer has enjoyed tremendous market success through its six generations with over 168,000 units of the Explorer sold in the United States alone inside the year 2019. Barring the current global pandemic, the 2020 Explorer was expected to do well in terms of global sales, but the lockdowns that came with the pandemic slowed every industry down. However, Ford Motor Company plans to resume production by the 18th of May.
The Explorer's root can be traced to the Explorer package of some 1974 Ford F-series Trims
The first models of the Ford Explorer were introduced in 1991
2. Overview of Toyota Highlander
While the Ford Explorer has some deep American root, this Toyota car as we all know is one of those cars of Japan that succeeded in gaining a good share of the global auto market, making it one of the top 5 auto brands in the world. Unlike the Ford Explorer, whose production began in 1990, the Toyota Highlander was first introduced in 2001 and was one of the first-ever examples of how a crossover SUV built on a cars platform should look and perform like.
Currently, the Toyota Highlander is in its 4th generation which was introduced last year and has been enjoying good market figures, selling an estimated 59,268 units during the fourth quarter of 2019, way shy of what a similar Toyota SUV, the 4Runner, sold within the same period.
The first models of the Highlander were released in 2001
The first models of the Highlander were built on the same platform as that of Lexus RX
3. Toyota Highlander Vs Ford Explorer: The Comparison
The latest models of the two Crossovers may not be considered among the most "expensive SUVs but cost a good fortune to own. But obviously we believe if you are reading this, your interest is mainly how good one is over the other, and not really how much cash it will take out of your pocket. Anyways, the table below will give an idea of the Toyota Highlander prices in Nigeria and the 2020 Ford Explorer price in Nigeria.
After that, we will try to highlight the prices of previous-year models of both SUVs. First the price comparison of the latest 2020 models.
|Platinum Trim 4x4||₦22.72m||Platinum AWD Trim||₦19.03m|
|ST Trim 4x4||₦21.35m||Platinum FWD Trim||₦18.27m|
|Limited Trim 4x4||₦19.55m||Limited AWD Trim||₦17.78m|
|Limited Trim 4x2||₦18.77m||Limited FWD Trim||₦17.02m|
|XLT Trim 4x4||₦15.08m||XLE AWD Trim||₦16.07m|
|XLT Trim 4x2||₦14.30m||XLE FWD Trim||₦15.44m|
|Base Trim 4x4||₦13.56m||LE AWD Trim||₦14.98m|
|Base Trim 4x2||₦12.78m||LE FWD Trim||₦14.35m|
|L AWD Trim||₦14.12m|
|L FWD Trim||₦13.49m|
|Model Year||Price (₦)||Model Year||Price (₦)|
|2010 Ford Explorer||₦1.74m - ₦2.44m||2007 Toyota Highlander||₦1.28m - ₦2.00m|
|2011 Ford Explorer||₦2.66m - ₦3.64m||2008 Toyota Highlander||₦1.72m - ₦2.59m|
|2012 Ford Explorer||₦3.08m - ₦6.09m||2009 Toyota Highlander||₦1.92m - ₦2.79m|
|2013 Ford Explorer||₦4.64m and above||2010 Toyota Highlander||₦2.54m - ₦3.57m|
|2014 Ford Explorer||₦5.81m - ₦6.55m||2011 Toyota Highlander||₦3.23m - ₦4.43m|
|2015 Ford Explorer||₦6.23m - ₦7.28m||2012 Toyota Highlander||₦3.59m - ₦4.77m|
|2016 Ford Explorer||₦7.02m - ₦11.11m||2013 Toyota Highlander||₦5.80m and above|
|2017 Ford Explorer||₦8.37m - ₦12.58m||2014 Toyota Highlander||₦5.02m - ₦8.78m|
|2018 Ford Explorer||₦10.35m - ₦11.19m||2015 Toyota Highlander||₦7.98m - ₦9.31m|
|2019 Ford Explorer||₦12.62m - ₦21.12m||2016 Toyota Highlander||₦9.58m - ₦11.89m|
|2017 Toyota Highlander||₦9.58m - ₦11.89m|
|2018 Toyota Highlander||₦10.90m - ₦14.01m|
|2019 Toyota Highlander||₦12.41m - ₦18.53m|
And oh you can also get the details of the latest model of the Toyota Highlander and some top tips on buying a used Toyota Highlander in Nigeria by clicking the links!
>>> More car comparisons to check out:
- [Expert car compare] Toyota Highlander vs Honda Pilot
- Toyota Highlander VS Volvo XC90: Expert comparison review and prices
When it comes to exterior look, both models display a good level of design work and both look fine. The Highlander comes with this smoking gun front fascia, which is something most young-blood bankers and mid-level offshore workers like. The rear area tries a look to maintain the DNA of the Lexus RX models and so for guys that own and want to upgrade from their Lexus RX models, then you may want to go for the Toyota Highlander models.
For the Ford Explorer, it comes off as a business class SUV for the bosses, especially with its imposing exterior look. If you are an ED or a top bracket executive that prefers an SUV, then the Explorer offers that extra feel of an executive ride over the Highlander.
The Ford Explorer has this executive feel to its exterior look
The Highlander looks much more aggressive
But if we must give a verdict, we would rather go for the Ford Explorer, as it looks a lot more executive and imposing. That is not to say the Highlander is not cool, but the Explorer for us just gives that extra edge for their latest models.
|Toyota Highlander||Ford Explorer|
|Smoking gun front fascia|| Imposing look overall
|Rear-end design inherits from the Lexus RX|
|Suitable for mid-level offshore workers||Suitable for businessmen|
Just like the exterior, both mid-size crossovers got a good deal of work put in. However, some interior features will have a big say on where you actually put your money. A number of Automotive industry analysts have given the interior plastics of the Explorer some really poor ratings, so we took out time to confirm this. So, the interior plastics lining the interior of the Explorer doesn't look that expensive. If you've seen the movie titled the "Criminal", the plastics in the 2020 models of the Explorer fall in the same category as that Jericho (Kevin Costner) used his teeth to rip-off.
Maybe next year's models will possibly have this area revisited.
The Highlander comes with a 12.3-inch infotainment display
The Explorer offers ambient interior lighting for your pleasure
In contrast, the Toyota Highlander utilizes high-quality fine-grain plastics to line their big-wheeled midsize crossover SUV interior, which results in the Highlanders interior looking a lot posher.
However, besides this area and how the Explorer's third-row seat is a little bit uncomfortable, the Highlander seems to be outclassed by what the Explorer offers in terms of interior features. The Explorer outshines the Highlander by offering more comfortable and plushy seats with better lumbar support across both the front and second-row seats.
It also offers a Tesla-like infotainment display that stands tall and is much more easily accessible when compared to Highlanders' bigger but old-fashioned display.
|Ford Explorer||Toyota Highlander|
|Poor ratings for its plastics||High-quality fine-grain plastics -> Looks posher|
|Uncomfortable third-row seat||
Less impressive interior functions
|Plushy front and second-row seats with better lumbar support|
|Modern infotainment display||Old-fashioned display|
>>> Check out these 10 simple tips to maintain your used Toyota Highlander
3.4 Space and cargo capacity
Ford Explorer takes the crown here, as it offers a lot more interior space and storage capacity than what you get with the Highlander. The Explorer's maximum cargo capacity with both second and third-row seats folded down stands at about 87.8 cubic feet; a good 14.5 cubic feets more than the Highlander's 73.3 cubic feet offering. The Explorer still beats the Highlander even with both seats up, offering about 18.2 cubic feet of cargo space at the back compared to Highlanders 16.1 cubic feet.
|Ford Explorer||Toyota Highlander|
|Maximum cargo capacity|
|87.8 cubic feet||73.3 cubic feet|
|Rear seats not folded|
|18.2 cubic feet||16.1 cubic feet|
The Explorer offers more interior spacing than the Highlander
The following video gives a brief walkaround overview of both motor vehicles
Video: All-new 2020 Toyota Highlander vs 2020 Ford Explorer | quick walkaround
But what should tip one side over is the power comparison? The Explorer is way ahead of the Highlander in this area, from their base models to their class-topping trims. The Explorer's base trim, which is offered as both the Front-wheel-drive and the All-wheel-drive vehicles pump out a solid 300 hp with its 2.3 Liter Ecoboost engine, as well as 310 lb-ft torque from its 10-speed automatic transmission.
The Platinum top trim of the Explorer also posts impressive numbers with it 3.0 Liter twin-turbocharged V6 engines, and standard 10-speed transmission, delivering a solid 380 lb-ft torque and 365 hp.
On the Toyota Highlander side, the power supplied by the engine is well below the Explorer's offering. Considering Highlander's Platinum top trim (with AWD powertrain), its 3.5 Liter V6 engine offers as much as 295-hp and 263 lb-ft delivered to its wheel by the 8-speed automatic transmission. And oh, the Toyota Highlander is one of those Front-wheel-drive vehicles that is just efficient if you decide to go with it.
|Ford Explorer||Toyota Highlander|
|2.3L Ecoboost engine||3.5L V6 engine|
|300 HP/310 lb-ft torque||295HP.263 lb-ft torque|
|10-speed automatic transmission||8-speed automatic transmission|
|3L twin-turbocharged V6 engines||3.5L V6 engine|
|365 HP/380 lb-ft torque||295HP.263 lb-ft torque|
|10-speed transmission||8-speed automatic transmission|
3.6 Performance and fuel economy
Both SUVs were designed as off-road vehicles and thus you could expect that what lies under the bonnet will generate some high pump rating to drag them over such terrains. However, the Highlander for sure beats the Explorer in terms of fuel economy, especially with their hybrid models. The Toyota Highlander, with its 2.5 Liter In-Line 4 cylinder engine combined with a rear-wheel powering electric motor torque-split hybrid system, offers as much as 35 mpg fuel economy for both city drive and highway travel.
On the other hand, Ford Explorer's 3.3 Liter V6 engine combined with its electric motors offers a Ford estimated 24 mpg fuel economy combined, which is obviously dwarfed by what the Highlander offers.
But, it becomes easily obvious why the Explorer's hybrid system will post such meager fuel economy numbers when you look at its power and performance rating. This is considering that the Explorer can tow as much as 5000 lbs of load compared to the Highlander's 3500 lbs. Well, I believe Nigerians will be more interested in the non-hybrid versions comparison. Well, both SUVs post similar fuel economy numbers, so it's a draw here.
|Ford Explorer||Toyota Highlander|
|5000 lbs of load||3500 lbs of load|
|Fuel economy (both Cty and Hwy)|
|24 mpg||35 mpg|
Concerning vehicle technology and safety, both sides are just good enough and you should be fine with either of them as they offer top-class innovative automotive technologies. So, clearly, the decision is made a lot easier for you with the detailed expert comparison of the 2020 models of Toyota Highlander vs Ford Explorer. These two are surely among the best SUVs to buy in Nigeria and of course two of the Best SUVs 2020.
>>> Check out: some really insightful reviews of both SUV models
- Toyota Highlander 2008 review & prices in Nigeria
- Toyota Highlander 2005 model Review & Prices
- Toyota Highlander 2006 model: Price in Nigeria
- Toyota Highlander 2005 (Carton Wagon) review & prices in Nigeria
- Ford Explorer 2018 review: pictures, MSRP, models, interior & more (Update in 2020)
- Ford Explorer and Ford Escape Prices in Nigeria