Three-row crossovers, like the 2019 Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander, put a family-friendly spin on sporty adventure. But which is more your style, the Explorer or Highlander? Our comparison guide has the answers you seek.
Comfiest Cabin: 2019 Ford Explorer
In the three-row crossover segment, the 2019 Ford Explorer is the total package: spacious, comfortable, and pin-drop quiet. Its high-end cabin materials and plush, supportive seating may even remind you of an expensive luxury SUV. As you climb the trim levels, you'll find every imaginable creature comfort, from ventilated seats to premium leather upholstery.
Compared to the Explorer, the Toyota Highlander is almost the total package. The Highlander is certainly spacious and comfortable, with a smooth, quiet ride to boot. There's just one catch. When you spend a long time in the cabin-say, on a family road trip-the seats don't maintain their comfort levels. After a few hours in the Highlander, you may find yourself wishing you'd gone with the Explorer.
Sportiest Performance: 2019 Ford Explorer
The 2019 Ford Explorer is ready for action. If your family loves a good trek through the wilderness, this crossover's all-wheel-drive performance is on your side. Even in daily driving, the Explorer's quick steering and athletic handling will appeal to your adventurous side. For an especially peppy version of this crossover, check out the Explorer Sport. This capable trim comes with stiffer suspension and quicker steering that can't help but charm driving enthusiasts.
One thing's for sure: the Toyota Highlander is plenty powerful. At least, this SUV is around town. When you crave a burst of speed, though, this crossover can be a little too slow to react. Unlike in the Explorer, the Highlander's steering can be on the light side, making you feel like you don't have as much control as you'd like.
Most in Towing Capabilities: 2019 Ford Explorer
First, we'll level with you. With the proper equipment and engine options, both the Edge and the Highlander tow max loads of 5,000 pounds. That's right-if you've got a big boat at home, either crossover can supply the heavy lifting you need.
The reason why the Explorer ekes out a win in this category is that this SUV tows more with its base engine than the Highlander. The Explorer comes standard with a powerful 3.5-liter V6 with the potential to tow max loads of 5,000 pounds. If you decide you want to upgrade to the turbocharged four-cylinder for a premium balance of power and fuel economy, your Explorer will tow max loads of 3,500 pounds. Back on the Toyota Highlander, you need to pay extra for the optional V6 engine in order to tow max loads. And, should you decide you don't want to spend the extra money, the base four-cylinder engine only tows up to 1,500 pounds.
Thriftiest Around-Town Driving: 2019 Toyota Highlander
If you plan to do a lot of bustling around town, consider the Highlander for a little extra mileage. With its thriftiest powertrain configuration, Toyota's three-row crossover earns up to 21 city/27 highway mpg. The 2019 Ford Explorer is right behind, though, with 19/27 mpg. Note that both provide the same highway fuel mileage, so commuters may not experience much of a difference.
Sure, the Highlander has its finer points, but we're all about the 2019 Ford Explorer. This three-row crossover isn't just roomy and comfortable, it's downright luxurious. And, thanks to its adventure-ready powertrain, the Explorer is ready to make some lasting family memories.