Ford Explorer Vs. Honda Pilot

By Justin Cupler | June 28th, 2019

Midsize crossovers are big business, especially three-row models like the Honda Pilot and the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer. Which of these easy-to-drive people haulers will work best for our Jacksonville area buyers? Continue reading to find out. 

Exterior

The Honda Pilot went through its last restyle in 2016, bringing in a sleeker look that caught on quickly. In 2019, it receives a mild styling update to keep things fresh but is far from comprehensive. While it is still relatively young, in an ever-changing segment like the midsize crossover one, this four-year-old people hauler is showing come age. That said, it is still a Honda, and it draws a lot of attention simply for its build quality. 

The 2020 Ford Explorer is all-new, bringing in a new, more SUV-like look, a larger body, and a rear-wheel-drive layout, giving it a true crossover-SUV setup. This creates a great midway point for buyers who want to step down from large SUVs and into crossovers without going full-on soccer parent. 

In terms of exterior features, the Pilot and Explorer are similar, as both start relatively simple with 18-inch wheels and black cladding, and top out with 20-inch wheels. The Explorer has an extra wrinkle with its ST trim that adds an exclusive front and more for a dose of sportiness. 

 

The Explorer is also larger than the Pilot on nearly every key measurable. This adds to its interior room but also makes it harder to park in tight spaces. 

 

Measurement 2020 Ford Explorer 2019 Honda Pilot Difference
Length 198.8 inches 196.5 inches +2.3 inches
Width 78.9 inches 78.6 inches +0.3 inches
Height 69.9 inches 70.6 inches -0.7 inches
Wheelbase 119.1 inches 111 inches +8.1 inches
Ground Clearance 7.9 inches 7.3 inches +0.6 inches
Curb weight 4,345 to 4,969 pounds 4,036 to 4,319 pounds +309 to +650 pounds

 

Advantage: 2019 Honda Pilot

  • Smaller and easier to maneuver

Advantage: 2020 Ford Explorer

  • Newest design
  • Standard LED lighting
  • Sport ST trim

Interior

Inside, the Honda Pilot is still sharp with its available 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen, leather upholstery, push-button transmission, and more. In its base trim, though, the Pilot leaves a lot to be desired with its standard non-touchscreen 5-inch display screen and other basics, plus it lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in its base trim. 

The 2020 Ford Explorer’s cabin boasts a cleaner and swoopier look, giving it a more upscale feel. Add to that its standard 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and more, and it’s easy to put the Explorer at the head of its class in tech. The Explorer also takes its tech a step further with the available 12.3-inch driver-information screen and 10.1-inch, portrait-mounted touchscreen. 

The Explorer also has an extra layer of interior creativity in its sporty ST trim. This performance crossover’s cabin gains sport seats, special trim, and more to set it apart from the crowd. 

Winning in legroom in all three rows and most other interior measurements, the Ford Explorer is a great option for large families who plan to use all three rows of seats and it is up to 87.8 cubes of cargo room regularly

 

Measurement 2020 Ford Explorer 2019 Honda Pilot Difference
First-row headroom 40.7 inches 39.5 to 40.1 inches +0.6 to +1.2 inches
First-row legroom 43 inches 40.9 inches +2.1 inches
First-row shoulder room 61.8 inches 62 inches -0.2 inches
First-row hip room 59.2 inches 59.1 inches +0.1 inches
Second-row headroom 40.5 inches 38.9 to 40.2 inches +0.3 to +1.6 inches
Second-row legroom 39 inches 38.4 inches +0.6 inches
Second-row shoulder room 61.9 inches 62 inches -0.1 inches
Second-row hip room 59.1 inches 57.3 inches +1.8 inches
Third-row headroom 38.9 inches 38.9 inches
Third-row legroom 32.2 inches 31.9 inches +0.3 inches
Third-row shoulder room 54.6 inches 57.6 inches -3 inches
Third-row hip room 40.9 inches 44.6 inches -3.7 inches
Cargo room (seats upright) 18.2 cubic feet 16.5 cubic feet +1.7 cubic feet
Cargo room (third-row seats lowered) 47.9 cubic feet 46.8 cubic feet +0.9 cubic feet
Cargo room (seconds- and third-row seats lowered) 87.8 cubic feet 83.9 cubic feet +3.9 cubic feet

 

Advantage: 2019 Honda Pilot

  • Wider rear seats
  • Sharp rear entertainment system
  • In-cabin PA system

Advantage: 2020 Ford Explorer

  • Sporty ST interior
  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 8-inch standard touchscreen
  • Massive 10.1-inch optional touchscreen

Performance

Under its hood, the 2019 Honda Pilot has one useful engine: a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. This engine sprints the Pilot to 60 mph in the mid-six-second range while delivering a respectable 5,000-pound towing capacity and up to 27 mpg highway. The only powertrain options are all-wheel drive across the entire lineup and a standard nine-speed automatic transmission in the Touring and Elite models. 

The 2020 Ford Explorer is a different animal altogether with four engine options and rear-wheel drive — a rarity in the crossover realm. They begin with a potent 2.3-liter turbocharged four-pot that delivers 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque while offering up to 28 mpg highway. Next up is the Limited Hybrid model that adds a 3.3-liter hybrid powertrain with 318 horsepower — fuel-economy numbers are not available yet. 

Looking for raw power? There are two versions of Ford’s new twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine available. In the range-topping Platinum trim, this engine pounds out 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque through a standard all-wheel-drive system. The performance-oriented ST trim’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 bumps the power to 400 horses and 415 pound-feet, making it the quickest ST model in Ford’s lineup at 5.5 seconds to 60 mph. 

 

2020 Ford Explorer 2019 Honda Pilot Difference
Standard engine 2.3-liter turbo 4-cyl 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower 300 hp 280 hp at 6,000 rpm +20 hp
Torque 310 lb-ft 262 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm +48 lb-ft
Standard transmission 10-spd automatic 6-spd automatic
Optional transmission 9-spd automatic
Driveline RWD (std.) / AWD (opt.) FWD (std.) / AWD (opt.)
0-60 time
6.5 seconds (est.)
Towing capacity 5,300 pounds 5,000 pounds (AWD) +300 pounds
MPG City 20 to 21 mpg 18 to 20 mpg +0 to +3 mpg
MPG Highway 27 to 28 mpg 26 to 27 mpg +0 to +2 mpg
MPG Combined 23 to 24 mpg 21 to 23 mpg +0 to +3 mpg
Optional engine 3.3-liter hybrid V-6
Horsepower 318 hp
+38 hp
Torque 322 lb-ft
+60 lb-ft
Transmission 10-spd automatic
Driveline AWD
0-60 time
Towing capacity 5,000 pounds
MPG City
MPG Highway
MPG Combined
Optional engine 3.0-liter turbo V-6 (Platinum)
Horsepower 365 hp
+85 hp 
Torque 380 lb-ft
+118 lb-ft
Transmission 10-spd automatic
Driveline AWD 
0-60 time
Towing capacity 3,000 pounds
-2000 pounds
MPG City 18 mpg
-2 to +0 mpg
MPG Highway 24 mpg
-3 to -2 mpg
MPG Combined 20 mpg
-3 to -1 mpg
Optional engine 3.0-liter high-output V-6 (ST)
Horsepower 400 hp
+120 hp
Torque 415 lb-ft
+153 lb-ft
Transmission 10-spd automatic
Driveline AWD
0-60 time 5.5 seconds
1 second
Towing capacity 5,000 pounds
MPG City 18 mpg
-2 to +0 mpg
MPG Highway 24 mpg
-3 to -2 mpg
MPG Combined 20 mpg
-3 to -1 mpg

 

Advantage: 2019 Honda Pilot

  • Smooth standard V-6 power
  • Softer, quieter ride

Advantage: 2020 Ford Explorer

  • Huge power advantage
  • Better standard fuel economy
  • Big performance from ST trim
  • Thrifty hybrid option

Pricing and Features

The 2020 Ford Explorer is available in four trims — XLT, Limited, ST, and Platinum — and its base pricing ranges from $36,675 to $58,250. 

 

There are five trim levels in the 2019 Honda Pilot lineup: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. Their starting prices range from $31,450 to $48,020. 

2020 Ford Explorer Key Features and Pricing by Trim

XLT: $36,675

  • 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • Electric parking brake
  • 18-inch five-spoke Sparkle Silver-painted wheels
  • Active grille shutters
  • Body-color door handles with black inserts
  • Black mesh grille insert with chrome bars
  • Black lower cladding with chrome accents
  • Black wheel-lip molding
  • Body-color bumpers
  • Body-color rear spoiler
  • Power, heated side mirrors with LED turn signals
  • Black mirror caps
  • Acoustic laminated windows
  • Chrome liftgate applique
  • Configurable daytime running light
  • LED taillights
  • LED headlights with auto-on/off
  • LED signature lighting
  • Rear bumper step pad
  • Rood rack side rails 
  • Power liftgate
  • Privacy rear glass
  • Variable-intermittent wipers
  • Rear wiper
  • Black metallic center stack
  • Stretch-diamond instrument panel appliques
  • Center floor console
  • Tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Rear auxiliary controls
  • First- and second-row floor mats
  • 6.5-inch color driver-information system
  • Five 12-volt power outlets
  • Rotary shifter
  • Unique cloth seating 
  • 10-way power driver’s seat
  • Four-way power passenger’s seat
  • Second-row captains seats
  • 50/50 split-folding third-row seat
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Tilt and telescoping steering wheel
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Power windows with front one-touch down
  • Four cargo-new tie-down anchors
  • Four cargo tie-down anchors
  • SYNC 3 infotainment system
  • Enhanced voice-recognition
  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • AppLink
  • 911 Assist
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Two smart-charging USB ports
  • Dual second-row smart-charging USB ports
  • Six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio system
  • SiriusXM
  • Keyless ignition
  • SecuriCode keyless entry keypad
  • Ford MyKey
  • Trailer-sway control
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Pre-collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Rearview camera
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi
  • Remote ignition, lock, and unlock
  • Parked vehicle locator
  • Hill-start assist
  • Post-collision braking
  • Reverse-sensing system

 

Limited: $48,130

  • All XLT features, plus
  • Body-color door handles with bright inserts
  • Chrome dual exhaust tips
  • Bright-silver-painted mesh grille insert with chrome bars
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • Liftgate scuff plate
  • Satin roof-rack side rails
  • Windshield-wiper de-icer
  • 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels
  • Ambient lighting
  • Door-sill scuff plates with bright inserts
  • Power-folding mirrors with puddle lights and memory
  • 10-way power passenger’s seat
  • Leather seating with Mirco Perforation and accent stitching
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Memory driver’s seat
  • Heated second-row seats
  • Power-assist fold second-row seats
  • Power-fold third-row seat
  • Second-row sunshades
  • Power tilt and telescoping steering wheel
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Paddle shifters
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • 110-volt power outlet
  • 12-speaker B&O audio system
  • HD Radio
  • Navigation 
  • SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Wireless charging pad
  • 360-degree camera
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane centering
  • Speed-sign recognition
  • Evasive-steering assist
  • Forward parking sensors

 

ST: $54,740

  • All XLT features, plus
  • High-output 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine
  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • Black mesh grille insert
  • Black liftgate applique
  • Black lower body cladding
  • Black roof-rack side rails
  • Gloss-black mirror caps
  • Black skid plate elements
  • Class-III trailer-tow package
  • Body-color door handles with black inserts
  • Chrome quad-tip exhaust outlets
  • “EXPLORER” hood badge
  • Blackout treatment on headlights and taillights
  • 20-inch machined aluminum wheels
  • ST floor mats
  • 12.3-inch driver-information center
  • Sport captains chairs 
  • City Silver accent stitching
  • ST logo on seats 
  • Sport-style steering wheel with ST logo
  • Paddle shifters
  • Auto-fold mirrors with ST projection lights
  • Active Pack Assist 2.0
  • Reverse automatic braking

 

Platinum: $58,250

  • 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine
  • Class-III trailer-tow package
  • Quad chrome exhaust tips
  • Satin-aluminum door handles
  • Satin-aluminum liftgate applique
  • Satin-aluminum lower bodyside cladding insert
  • Auto-fold mirrors with puddle lights
  • Premium silver-painted front and rear skid plate elements
  • Twin-panel moonroof
  • Unique satin-aluminum-finish grille
  • 20-inch bright machine-faced aluminum wheels
  • Quilted door inserts
  • Platinum-branded floor mats with Brunello stitching
  • Front illuminated scuff plates
  • Real-wood instrument panel appliques
  • 12.3-inch driver-information center
  • Leather-wrapped armrests
  • Leather-wrapped instrument panel and door rollovers
  • Tri-diamond perforated leather seating with accent stitching
  • Platinum-branded front-seat embroidery
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Active Park Assist 2.0
  • Reverse braking assist

2019 Honda Pilot Key Features and Pricing by Trim

LX: $31,450

  • 3.5-liter V-6 engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Eco Assist system
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Hill-start assist
  • Electric power steering
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • LED daytime running lights
  • LED low-beam headlights with auto-on/off
  • LED brake and reverse lights
  • Tinted rear glass
  • Intermittent rear window wiper
  • Variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Black mirrors with power operation
  • Black door handles
  • Blac roofline spoiler
  • Sunglasses holder
  • Keyless ignition
  • Power windows with one-touch up/down front windows
  • Power door locks
  • Tilt and telescoping steering wheel
  • Four cargo-area tie-down hooks
  • Illuminated steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • First- and second-row floor mats
  • 60/40 split-folding third-row seats
  • 5-inch color infotainment screen
  • 215-watt, seven-speaker audio system with a subwoofer
  • Bluetooth connectivity with streaming audio
  • One 1.0-amp USB audio interface
  • One 2.5-amp USB charging port
  • Multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Road-departure mitigation
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

 

EX: $34,330

  • All LX features, plus
  • Remote ignition
  • Snow mode
  • 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels
  • Heated, body-color mirrors with LED turn signals
  • Body-color door handles
  • Body0color rear spoiler
  • Smart entry with walk-away auto-lock
  • LED fog lights
  • Tri-zone automatic climate control
  • Illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Conversation mirror with sunglasses holder
  • 10-way power driver’s seat
  • One-touch second-row seats
  • Heated front seats
  • 8-inch high-resolution touchscreen
  • HondaLink
  • CabinControl remote compatibility
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • SMS text message function
  • SiriusXM
  • HD Radio
  • One 2.5-amp USB port in the front console
  • Multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines
  • Blind-spot monitoring

 

EX-L: $37,760

  • All EX features, plus
  • Power moonroof
  • Power liftgate
  • Acoustic windshield
  • HomeLink universal garage door opener
  • Integrated second-row sunshades
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob
  • Two-position mirror and driver’s seat memory
  • Four-way power passenger’s seat
  • Leather seating
  • Two second-row 2.5-amp USB ports

 

Touring: $42,520

  • All EX-L features, plus
  • Automatic idle stop
  • 10-speed automatic transmission
  • 20-inch machine-finished alloy wheels
  • Chrome door handles
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • Acoustic front-side glass
  • Roof rails
  • LED low-beam headlights with auto-on/off
  • Reverse-gear tilt-down mirrors
  • Courtesy door lights
  • Blue ambient LED lighting
  • Heated second-row seats
  • Satellite-linked navigation
  • Advanced Rear Entertainment System with a 10.2-inch high-resolution screen
  • Blu-Ray player
  • Streaming apps
  • 115-volt power outlet
  • Second-row HDMI interface
  • 590-watt, 10-speaker audio system with a subwoofer
  • HondaLink subscription service
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Multizone audio
  • In-car PA system through headphones

 

Elite: $48,020

  • All Touring features, plus
  • All-wheel drive
  • Snow, Sand, and Mud drive modes
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Auto-dimming, power-folding side mirrors
  • Panoramic roof
  • LED map lights
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated second-row captains chairs
  • Perforated, heated, and ventilated front seats
  • Wireless phone charger
  • In-car PA system through speakers and headphones

Who Should Buy the 2019 Honda Pilot?

Want a crossover that rides, drives, and handles like a sedan? The 2019 Honda Pilot is a great option for you, especially if you’re less concerned about cargo space and performance. 

Who Should Buy the 2020 Ford Explorer?

Tired of stale crossovers? Looking for something more on the SUV side? The redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer is just right for you with its upright stance, potent engines, and rear-wheel-drive platform. If performance is your thing, the Explorer ST is the rig for you with its tight handling and 5.5-second 0-to-60 time. 

 

Whether you’re commuting to Orange Park for work, heading to Jacksonville for an evening out, or cruising to Fleming Island to drop the kids off at work, the redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer can handle it all. Stop by Garber Automall in Green Cove Springs today to test drive the 2020 Explorer and see what it offers your family. Can’t make it by today? Swing by our online inventory page today to see what 2020 Explorer models we have in stock, choose one that suits you, and schedule a future test drive at your earliest convenience.