2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Honda Pilot

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  • 2023 Ford Explorer

    Starting at

    $36,760[a]

    2023 Honda Pilot

    A white 2023 Honda Pilot is shown angled right.

    Starting at

    $35,950

    300-400Horsepower (hp)285
    310-415Torque (lb-ft)262
    27/28Fuel Economy (city/hwy MPG)19/27

    Choosing the right SUV with everything that you need can take quite a bit of work—you have so many options available to you that it can be difficult to consider what each has to offer. Even if you narrow things down to a particular category, like a three-row SUV, then you still have a wide range of models from different manufacturers to choose from, which is why it is helpful to just look at one or two at a time and see what they have to offer. Considering the 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Honda Pilot, for example, quickly reveals that although these are both excellent SUVs, Ford has packed a lot more into their offering.

    Even at a glance, it is easy to see how much more the Ford Explorer brings to the road. For starters, the Explorer has three engines for you to choose from compared to a single powertrain from Honda. The engine on the Honda Pilot is fine, but that is the problem; it is just fine. Meanwhile, the starting engine on the Ford Explorer is superior to what the Pilot offers, and they just get better from there. Perhaps most impressive of all is the 3.3L Hybrid V6 available for the Explorer, which is not only far more powerful than the Pilot’s engine but also the most fuel-efficient of all four engines between both vehicles.

    In fact, Ford comes out on top pretty much across the board when it comes to overall fuel efficiency with the engines they offer, even the standard non-hybrid ones. Looking inside these two vehicles, the Ford Explorer continues to bring more to the road than what you can find inside the Honda Pilot. For example, the Explorer features a standard 10.1-inch Infotainment display, with incredible options like an available 12.3-inch Digital Productivity Screen for you while driving and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. The Honda Pilot, on the other hand, has a standard seven-inch infotainment screen, with a nine-inch display available, plus premium options like an available 10.2-inch driver Instrument Cluster and 12-speaker sound system. It is easy to see that although Honda does its best with the Pilot, it simply cannot keep up with the Explorer.

  • Performance

    A red 2023 Ford Explorer ST is shown from the side during a 2023 Ford Explorer vs 2023 Honda Pilot comparison.

    One vs Three Engine Options

    While we all know that flashy cars like the Ford Mustang and powerful trucks like the F-150 need to have impressive engines in them, it is easy to assume that the engine is not as important in something like an SUV. In truth, however, any vehicle you are interested in should have an engine that makes it enjoyable to drive, and that delivers plenty of power every time you get behind the wheel. This is an area where the 2023 Ford Explorer comes through beautifully while the Honda Pilot falls behind.

    For starters, the Honda Pilot has a single engine available, compared to three engines that Ford offers for the Explorer—if the Pilot’s engine is incredible, then that is fine, but it comes up short. The 2023 Honda Pilot features a 3.5L V6 engine that delivers 285 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, which comes paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. That is a decent engine, but not quite as powerful as we would like to see in a large, three-row SUV. By comparison, the starting engine for the 2023 Ford Explorer is a 2.3L EcoBoost Turbo I-4 that delivers 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, already surpassing what the Pilot can manage.

    From there, you can choose an available 3.0L EcoBoost Turbo V6 engine that boosts power up to 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque. This is tremendous performance, and all three engines for the Explorer are paired with a ten-speed automatic for a quick, responsive drive. Finally, if you want an upgrade in performance over the standard option, with incredible fuel economy, then there is an available 3.3L Hybrid V6 engine that delivers 318 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. You can see that across the board, the Ford Explorer has superior engines to provide you with a fantastic driving experience that the Pilot simply cannot match.

  • Efficiency

    A red 2023 Ford Explorer is shown from the front at an angle.

    Getting Around Town Without Overspending on Gas

    If you are interested in a spacious, three-row SUV with plenty of seating inside for a large family, then you have probably abandoned any hope of good fuel efficiency. While that might have been true in the past, modern vehicles can deliver robust power and performance along with surprising levels of fuel economy to help keep your gas costs low. You will not find numbers here that can match the most efficient compact sedans, but a vehicle like the Ford Explorer can deliver impressive fuel economy while giving you plenty of room inside.

    The single engine available for the Honda Pilot offers an estimated 19 MPG in the city, 27 MPG on the highway, and 22 MPG of combined fuel efficiency. This is for a model with front-wheel drive. Choosing an all-wheel drive (AWD) version of the Pilot will cost you a small amount of highway fuel economy, but it is still quite efficient. While this is a great place to start, the biggest problem is that it is the only option—Honda fails to offer something else with greater efficiency. As impressive as this is, the 2023 Ford Explorer is more economical, offering you more options and a superior choice for keeping your costs low.

    With its standard engine, the Explorer gets an estimated 21 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 24 MPG of combined fuel efficiency. This is for a rear-wheel drive model, and choosing AWD will slightly decrease its efficiency, though you might not even notice the difference. If you really want amazing fuel economy, however, then Ford offers a 3.3L Hybrid V6 engine with an estimated 27 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 27 MPG of combined fuel efficiency. This is a terrific choice, particularly if you spend a lot of time driving in the city, and it will let you skip the gas pump much longer than the Pilot can.

  • Interior

    The interior of a 2023 Ford Explorer King Ranch is shown from the drivers seat.

    Comfort and Technology Inside These SUVs

    Things like powerful and efficient engines are certainly important when you are shopping for your next SUV, but few considerations are as vital as the kinds of features you find inside any given vehicle. These are the things that you will directly interact with every single time you get behind the wheel, and they are very important when it comes to the sort of experience you have. The technology and comfort features you find in a vehicle depend on a range of factors, including the trim level you choose, but across the board, the Ford Explorer comes out on top with more options and superior features.

    Looking at the 2023 Honda Pilot, we find it has standard features that include a seven-inch infotainment display, a seven-inch Driver Information Interface Screen, and a seven-speaker sound system. Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, with Wireless functionality available on higher trims, with numerous USB ports found throughout the interior. A ten-way power-adjustable driver’s seat is standard, with a four-way front-passenger seat, heated front seats, and tri-zone automatic climate control. Available features for the Pilot include a nine-inch infotainment display, 10.2-inch Digital Instrument Cluster, and a 12-speaker sound system.

    With the 2023 Ford Explorer, you get a 10.1-inch infotainment display standard on every model, no matter which trim you are interested in. A six-speaker sound system is standard, along with cloth seating and tri-zone electronic automatic temperature control to ensure everyone inside is comfortable. Looking at the Platinum trim, you get leather seating with Tri-Diamond perforated inserts, a ten-way power driver’s seat, and eight-way power front-passenger seat, with first-row heated and ventilated seats and second-row heated seating. You get a 12.3-inch Digital Productivity Screen for the driver in the Explorer Platinum, along with a wireless charging pad and an available 14-speaker B&O sound system with a subwoofer to provide you with a superior audio experience that the Honda Pilot cannot match.

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