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Ford Explorer Vs. Toyota Highlander Comparison: Which SUV Is Better?

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander

If you're searching for a spacious and comfortable midsize SUV, comparing the Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander is a great place to start. Each of these SUVs offers advanced features, impressive performance metrics, and a reputation for reliability.

However, one of these SUVs stands tall in terms of passenger comfort, power and capability, and overall options. Here at Veterans Ford, we hope you'll love the Ford Explorer as much as we do, and when you're ready for a tour and test drive, we'll be happy to show you around.

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander Specs

2024 Ford Explorer Base 2024 Toyota Highlander LE
Standard Engine 2.3-L EcoBoost I-4 Engine 2.4-L 4-Cyl Turbocharged Engine
Horsepower 300 265
Torque 310 lb-ft 310 lb-ft
Standard Drivetrain RWD FWD
Transmission 10-Speed Automatic 8-Speed Automatic
EPA-Est. MPG (Cty/Hwy/Comb) for Standard Drivetrain 21/28/241 22/29/252
Max Towing Capacity for Standard Powertrain 5,300 lbs3 5,000 lbs4
Length 198.8 in 194.9 in
Max Seating Capacity 7 8
Max Cargo Capacity 87.8 cu ft 84.3 cu ft
Passenger Volume 152.7 cu ft 141.8 cu ft

The 2024 Ford Explorer vs. 2024 Toyota Highlander specs reveal a more powerful Ford Explorer in virtually every metric. With its duo of dynamic engine options, including a base engine that flexes harder than the standard Toyota Highlander, the Explorer takes the spotlight. Comparatively, the Highlander offers two engine options: a single gas-powered and a single hybrid engine.

The Ford Explorer Hybrid is available for the 2023 model year and offers enhanced fuel economy that goes toe to toe with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid option.

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander Interior Perks & Trim Level

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander Interior Perks & Trim Levels

Regarding trim levels and available features, the Ford Explorer offers eight trim levels, while the Toyota Highlander offers 11. The Explorer trims include:

  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Explorer XLT
  • Ford Explorer ST-Line
  • Ford Explorer Limited
  • Ford Explorer Timberline
  • Ford Explorer ST
  • Ford Explorer King Ranch
  • Ford Explorer Platinum

The Toyota Highlander SUV trim levels include:

  • Toyota Highlander LE
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE Nightshade
  • Toyota Highlander XLE
  • Toyota Highlander XSE
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE Nightshade
  • Toyota Highlander Limited
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
  • Toyota Highlander Platinum
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum

The trim levels of the new Ford Explorer for sale provide a huge range of amenities that will appeal to different drivers' needs and preferences.

For example, the base trim is ideal for drivers who need a comfortable and dependable SUV with intuitive features. The ST-Line trim adds luxury and tech with wireless charging and a B&O® Bang & Olufsen® sound system. The Timberline is ideal for drivers with a sense of adventure who want to take their Ford Explorer onto the trail. As you explore the trims, look out for the impressive suite of available features to find the ideal model for your lifestyle.

The Toyota Highlander also offers plenty of features. It's hard to beat the standard four USB-C and one USB-A charging ports it offers – the base Explorer includes one of each. However, you only have to go up a single trim level in the Explorer to get the 10.1-inch LCD Capacitive Touch Screen with Swipe Capability, while the upgraded touch screen in the Highlander requires climbing several rungs on the trim ladder.

You'll also get more standard and maximum cargo space in the Ford Explorer – 18.2 cubic feet and 87.8 cubic feet, respectively. The Highlander can only offer 16 cubic feet behind the third row and 84.3 cubic feet when you fold down both back rows. The Explorer wins most of the headroom and legroom contests throughout the cabin, too.

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander Tow Capacity

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander Tow Capacity

Flexing its impressive muscles, the 2024 Ford Explorer is a force to be reckoned with. This versatile SUV can confidently tow up to 5,600 pounds when properly equipped. This capacity is thanks to the available, robust 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine, which makes towing easy when teamed up with the Class IV Trailer Tow Package. Standard features like the Tow/Haul mode in the Terrain Management System make your experience even better.

Taking a look at the competition, the gas-powered Toyota Highlander is close behind with its maximum available towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. The hybrid models of the Toyota Highlander SUV have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

If you're looking for a powerful SUV that's more adventure-ready, purchase or lease your new Ford Explorer at Veterans Ford.

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander MPG

Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander MPG

Fuel efficiency is an essential aspect of any vehicle, especially for eco-conscious drivers. The Toyota Highlander SUV provides almost the same fuel efficiency as the Ford Explorer. The front-wheel-drive Highlander base model offers 22/29/25 MPG (City/Highway/Combined).2 Comparatively, the base model of the Ford Explorer with rear-wheel drive offers 21/28/24 MPG (City/Highway/Combined).1

Explorer vs. Highlander Reliability

Reliability ratings are favorable on both sides when it comes to the Ford Explorer vs. Toyota Highlander battle. Each SUV brand has a longstanding reputation for reliability and durability. Much of this reputation is in relation to the brands' commitments to safety features and driver assistance. As a result, both vehicles come outfitted with things like blind-spot, lane-keeping, and pre-collision technology.

These robust SUVs offer plenty of features and comfort for your daily drive and family road trips. However, the Ford Explorer offers more power, more available options, and more space. Visit our Ford dealer in Tampa, FL, to meet the new Ford Explorer and take it for a test drive today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which SUV has a wider range of trim levels and options: the 2024 Ford Explorer or Toyota Highlander?

The Toyota Highlander has more trims to choose from because it separates out those with its available hybrid powertrain into separate tiers for a total of 11. The Ford Explorer offers eight trims, some of which come with diverse engine specifications and options. In total, both the Toyota Highlander and the Ford model give you two engine options to pick from.

Can the new Ford Explorer tow more than the Toyota Highlander?

The Ford Explorer has a higher towing capacity than the Toyota Highlander. The Ford Explorer SUV boasts a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,600 pounds when properly equipped. The Toyota Highlander SUV offers a maximum available towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. However, if you choose a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, the towing capacity drops to just 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Which is more fuel-efficient: the Explorer or the Highlander?

The Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander SUVs each deliver similar fuel efficiency. The front-wheel-drive base model of the Toyota Highlander offers 22/29/25 MPG (City/Highway/Combined),2 while the base rear-wheel-drive Ford Explorer model offers 21/28/24 MPG (City/Highway/Combined).1 If you're shopping for a new SUV based on fuel efficiency, you'll get similar performance out of each.




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1EPA-estimated city/hwy mpg for the model indicated. See fueleconomy.gov for fuel economy of other engine/transmission combinations. Actual mileage will vary. On plug-in hybrid models and electric models, fuel economy is stated in MPGe. MPGe is the EPA equivalent measure of gasoline fuel efficiency for electric mode operation.

2Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary for many reasons, including your vehicle's condition and how/where you drive. See fueleconomy.gov.

3Max towing varies based on cargo, vehicle configuration, accessories and number of passengers.

4Before towing, confirm your vehicle and trailer are compatible, hooked up and loaded properly and that you have any necessary additional equipment. Do not exceed any Weight Ratings and follow all instructions in your Owner's Manual. The maximum you can tow depends on base curb weight plus the total weight of any cargo, occupants, and added vehicle equipment. "Added vehicle equipment" includes additional standard/optional equipment and accessories added by the manufacturer, dealers, and/or vehicle owners. The only way to be certain of your vehicle's exact curb weight is to weigh your vehicle without passengers or cargo. [Calculated with the new SAE J2807 method.] Installation of a tow hitch receiver or other accessories located near the rear bumper or side-door kick sensors may require disabling or removing the kick sensor, and the sensor operation setting in your vehicle should be turned off. See Owner's Manual for limitations.

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