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2023 Honda Pilot vs. 2023 Toyota 4Runner

Comparison between 2023 Honda Pilot and 2023 Toyota 4Runner

1. Overview

At first glance, the 4Runner comes off as more truck-like with an aggressive posture and a built-in roll and skid plate that will give off the intention of recreational use. Also, with an SR5 sport package and higher, the 4Runner features 16-inch aluminum wheels, a hood scoop, and other exterior add-ons and trim. The Pilot is more of a suburban vehicle designed for taking kids to various events and possibly taking trips. The Pilot has 17-inch wheels and features tires more for a better and more comfortable ride, which are standard all-season tires. Though each vehicle has its purpose as to who it is to be marketed to, some may not matter. The fact that the 4Runner comes with a built-in power back window would be much more attractive than the standard hatch trunk the Pilot offers. (Berg, 2021)

The 2023 Honda Pilot and the 2023 Toyota 4Runner are sport utility vehicles that boast several appealing features and attractive attributes. The former may be seen as the latest model entering the Pilot family. The Pilot seats up to eight passengers and offers a wide variety of features and uses for any lifestyle. The latter is a seven-passenger vehicle that has been known for off-road capabilities assumed by its appearance and features. This comparison will look at what each vehicle has to offer and which may be the right choice for a given buyer.

1.1. Exterior Design

Toyota 4Runner is quite different from the previous model with a conventional body design. It comes with a new design of the body which is modern and more aerodynamic. It's tough but sleek. On the other hand, the new Honda Pilot comes with a lot of similarities with the previous Honda Pilot 2020. It's only a little bit of refreshment on some parts, but the biggest change is on the grille. The usual Honda Pilot 2020 uses a metal design on the grille and gives a sturdy impression. But the 2023 Honda Pilot comes with a "smiling" designed grille which is quite unique and may be some people don't like it as it to be, but still there's a taste of beauty in the difference. The body design of the Honda Pilot can be said to be bulkier compared to the new Toyota 4Runner. The 2023 Toyota 4Runner uses a fit body design which is luxurious and tough. But it's far from the previous model which is more of a bold design with a lot of details to represent the toughness of this SUV car. The new exterior design of the Toyota 4Runner may not satisfy the fans of it because the previous model already represents the toughness of the Toyota 4Runner. Both of these SUV cars have projector headlights and LED daylight. The difference is, the headlights of the Honda Pilot can be said to be more elegant compared to the Toyota 4Runner which is more of a simplicity. The LED technology used by the Honda Pilot is more energy-saving. The back end of these cars can be said to be quite similar. Both use LED technology. But the difference is in the Honda Pilot taillight is more integrated and fits with the body, meanwhile, the Toyota 4Runner taillight is a separate unit between the car body. From the design aspects, the Honda Pilot may be more fit for a family car, and the Toyota 4Runner design still represents the toughness of an SUV car. (Peters, 2022)

1.2. Interior Features

Overall, the interior of the 2023 Honda Pilot is more preferable for people who seek a family car, rather than the Toyota 4Runner, which is designed primarily as an off-road vehicle.

In style, features, and details, the Toyota 4Runner feels a lot more basic, truck-like, and utilitarian. Although the interior materials used in the 4Runner are of good quality, it simply does not feel like a car built for the 21st century and it's not very passenger-friendly compared to the Pilot. Even its top Limited models don't feel much more plush inside. Meanwhile, the Honda Pilot is up-to-date, smooth, and rounded with a more car-like look and feel throughout, including having a low step-in height and good seating comfort for those in the first two rows. In top Touring and Elite trims, the Pilot's interior feels quite luxurious, with leather upholstery and a host of tech and entertainment features competing with top-tier crossover models. But even in base LX and mid-range EX trim levels, the materials and trims don't feel cheap.

In the aspect of interior design, the Honda Pilot comes with a more flexible seat arrangement and a more spacious third-row space, while the Toyota 4Runner comes with a more upscale and premium look of the interior. The arrangement of the Pilot's seat, which has a second row of captain's chairs on some versions, makes the walkway to the third row easy enough for kids without being overly cumbersome. From the second row, slide that seat forward, and its bottom tumbles up, sliding the whole seat toward the front to open an expanse to the third row. The third-row seat is more usable than most models of this size, with decent headroom and a wide entryway. Meanwhile, the 4Runner has a more boxy, off-road-ready arrangement that will really only seat two in the third row, and getting back there requires some climbing. The third row is best left for children.

1.3. Performance and Engine

In comparison, the Toyota 4Runner boasts a 4.0-liter V6 with dual overhead cams and intelligent VVT-i, which gives the vehicle considerable power with 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Integrated with this is a 5-speed ECT-I automatic transmission system. With the 4WD models, part-time 4WD with two-speed transfer case and 4WD models are able to tow a considerable 5000 lbs. This capability outclasses that of the Honda Pilot which is able to tow 3500 lbs on the FWD and 5000 lbs on the AWD. The vehicle is one of the few truck-based body-on-frame SUVs still remaining in today's market and its substantial towing capacity is a reflection of this. It also offers a more advanced Multi-terrain 4WD with the ability to lock the rear differential. This is a stark contrast to the Honda Pilot which features a variable torque management system for the AWD models, meant simply to improve traction on slippery surfaces. (Ronspies, 2020)

At the helm of the Honda Pilot is a 3.5-liter V6 engine with fuel injection, producing a total of 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard in the lower trim levels, whereas the upper trims are equipped with a more efficient nine-speed transmission. This vehicle is such that its front-wheel drive and top trims with all-wheel drive have largely different fuel economies at 20 mpg combined (FWD) and 22 mpg combined (AWD).

2. Safety and Technology

This is compared to the Toyota 4Runner that does not offer many of these aforementioned features. The 4Runner comes equipped with eight airbags as opposed to the six airbags available in the Honda Pilot. An advantage for the 4Runner is the driver and front passenger knee airbags. Step up models of the 4Runner offer Safety Connect, which is a feature that includes Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance, and Automatic Collision Notification. This feature comes with a trial period and requires a subscription.

In a situation where the vehicle is detected to be leaving the road, the LKAS will assist the driver in making the necessary steering adjustments to stay on the road. If the driver does not make any necessary adjustments, the LKAS will provide steering input to guide the vehicle back to the center of the lane. The Collision Mitigation Braking System is a feature designed to help bring the vehicle to a stop by automatically applying brake pressure when the front of the vehicle detects a collision with another vehicle or object.

The 2023 Honda Pilot was awarded the Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Pilot comes equipped with Honda Sensing, which is a suite of safety features that include Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS). These features work together to keep the vehicle within the lane markers as well as maintain a set interval behind the vehicle ahead.

2.1. Advanced Safety Features

The Pilot's most advanced safety feature would be the available Honda Sensing safety package. This package includes all the lane-keeping systems mentioned above, adaptive cruise control, and the collision mitigation braking system. These features are designed to assist the driver and with the potential to help decrease the likelihood of a crash. While Toyota provides similar features with their own safety packages, the Honda Sensing package offered on the Pilot has received excellent reviews and consumer ratings.

Both vehicles have an available rearview camera. However, for the 4Runner, this is only available in certain trim levels. The Pilot also has an available blind spot monitor, which is not available on any trim of the 4Runner. A very useful standard feature on the Pilot and also available on the 4Runner is the lane-keeping system in the form of road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. These features use a small camera to track lane markings on the road. If it recognizes that the vehicle is about to leave the road without the turn signal being activated, it will use the steering to keep the vehicle in the lane. These features would be a huge help and potentially avoid a crash in bad weather when it's hard to see lane markings or on a road with no markings. Honda's lane-keeping systems have been growing in popularity and have received positive feedback.

While both these vehicles have something to offer in the safety area, Honda has been really pushing to improve their safety features. Both the Pilot and the 4Runner have the standard airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. However, the Pilot also has the Safety Canopy system. This system is a side curtain airbag system with a rollover sensor. According to the NHTSA's website, the Pilot has a 4-star rating for the driver in the frontal crash, 5 stars for the driver in the side crash, and 3 stars for rollover resistance. The 4Runner didn't do quite as well. It scored a 3-star rating for the driver in the frontal crash, 5 stars for the driver in the side crash as well, and a 2-star rating for rollover resistance. The Pilot clearly has the upper hand when it comes to these tests.

2.2. Infotainment and Connectivity

Applaudable is Honda's decision to forgo touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel, in contrast to its own CRV and certain Acura models that have been subject to consumer complaints regarding accidental media volume increase. Both vehicles come riddled with a button-jungle on the wheel, which can be somewhat overwhelming, but after enough use, the driver should be able to differentiate each button by feel. Below the Pilot's touch screen are a series of knobs and other physical controls, which can be a preference for some users compared to 4Runner's button-only interface. Moving down to the center console, both vehicles offer ample storage space. However, the Pilot triumphs with a spacious shelf that makes for very easy storing and grabbing of common items such as a smartphone, in addition to an easily accessible HDMI input and multiple USB chargers. This comes in contrast to the 4Runner's single 12V input and tight space compliments of the transfer case shifter on 4WD models.

Moving onto the next category, infotainment and connectivity serves as an essential tool in keeping the driver informed and entertained throughout their journey. When examining the interface, Pilot once again shows its consumer preference in providing a modern 10.2-inch touch screen display for its high-end models, and 8-inch display for its base LX variant. Comparatively, the 4Runner only offers a 9-inch display in its premium variants. This sharp contrast in screen size inherently provides the user with better visibility and touch interface, not to mention the Pilot's touch screen is capacitive, allowing for easy swiping and pinch-to-zoom gestures. It should be noted that both cars are also equipped with a rotary volume knob along with physical menu buttons on the side. This would serve as a potential preference for some users, since the absence of these controls forces the user to manipulate the steering wheel controls to make adjustments.

2.3. Driver-Assistance Systems

In regards to the top safety features, the 4Runner comes standard with Toyota's Safety Sense P (TSS-P) on all trim levels. The package includes the standard aforementioned features, as well as automatic high-beams and a "pre-collision system with pedestrian detection function" which helps predict a possible collision and helps avoid it. This feature also enables braking to reduce the damage if an accident is unavoidable. The Pilot aims to let drivers add more safety to their drive without sacrificing the joy of driving with the available Honda Sensing suite which comes standard on EX and above models. The Honda Sensing features include the lane-keeping assist system, which is a feature the 4Runner does not have. This suite aims to make the highway driving experience safer and help avoid collisions. Therefore, in the safety category, the Pilot has more to offer than the 4Runner.

Both the Pilot and the 4Runner come with essential driver-assistance features such as automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning. However, the Pilot comes with a standard automated emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians, while the 4Runner does not come with this feature at the base level. The Pilot’s lane-departure warning is also more advanced than the 4Runner’s feature. The Pilot can apply steering to correct the lane departure, while the 4Runner merely gives an audible alert. These systems come standard on the EX model and above. The 4Runner has a unique safety feature called the rear roll-sensing control. This feature is designed to keep all occupants secured during a high-speed rollover or sharp turn. The 4Runner also features a standard backup camera, which is an improvement over previous Toyota models, which only offered it as an upgrade.

2.4. Off-Road Capabilities

One significant difference between the Honda Pilot and 4Runner is the presence of off-road capabilities in the range-topping Toyota, that being the Limited 4WD (four-wheel drive) edition, and the even more specialized Venture and TRD Off-Road models, all of which come with a part-time 4WD system featuring 2-speed and a locking function on the transfer case, as well as Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control systems to assist in extreme conditions. The standard Toyota 4WD system available in the 4Runner is also technically superior to the VTM-4 setup used in the Pilot, being a separate ladder frame with 4WD transfer case rather than a clutch driven rear differential setup for a predominantly FWD architecture. The VTM-4 system also has an intelligent torque management function which can direct up to 70% of available torque to the rear wheels, or in the case of slippery conditions to a single rear wheel, and distribute different amounts of torque between left and right rear wheels. In practical terms though, the 4Runner's deeper off-road ability should be the deciding factor for anyone often indulging in dirt related activities. Although it doesn't feature the near luxury veneer of the Limited or more gear laden features of the Premium, the most relevant edition of the 4Runner in comparison to the Touring 7P Pilot is the base SR5, currently retailing for $35,310 with rear-wheel drive or $37,185 with 4WD. This puts it within $1500 of the AWD Pilot EX, but in the case of a purchase decision based on use in inclement weather, 4Runner will almost certainly guarantee superior traction and dirt road ability. This would be a result of the rear-wheel biased 4WD system and old school body on frame construction give the 4Runner an off-road toughness and credibility unattainable by any kind of CR-V or Pilot. Still, it won't be until moving up to the $40,160 Venture model or $44,075 TRD Off-Road with its more off-road focused equipment and styling that specification parity with the Pilot will be reached, and even then price and features will be slightly different.

3. Comfort and Space

The Pilot is suited to the growing family segment that desires various seating and cargo configurations. It offers seating for up to eight passengers in both front and rear rows with an option of second-row captain's chairs, which reduces seating to seven. Access to the third row has been improved with the one-touch slide and tilt functionality of the second-row seats. The 4Runner is offered with third-row seating in the Limited and SR5 grades. Seating capacity is reduced to seven; however, second-row bench seats are available across all grades, offering a total seating capacity of five. This is due to the fact that the Trail model is only offered with second-row bench seating compared to the seven-passenger capacity that was offered in the previous generation. In terms of functionality, the Pilot's seating arrangement and capacity are much more versatile than the 4Runner's due to the fact that second and third-row seats can be folded flat into the floor in various combinations, offering an array of cargo and seating options. The 4Runner's second-row seats can recline and also fold 40/20/40; however, the third-row seats can only be stowed, and the seats must be removed in order to create a flat loading floor.

3.1. Seating Capacity and Versatility

Seating and packaging is one of the most crucial differences between the two, and it might be the most influential. The 4Runner offers a third-row seat in theory, but it's cramped, hard to get to, and while it's a good choice for children, there's just not enough width for adults. In the Pilot, the third-row seat is not just a throw-in but a very usable space for two adults, and walk-in access is much easier. Honda has carved out enough width (55 inches) for three-across seating in the third row, and the second row, split 40/20/40 now slides and reclines on all versions. Both the second and third rows in the Pilot are far more comfortable, versatile, and accommodating than those in the 4Runner. And that's something that, although it's not a deal-breaker due to specific needs, could by itself steer some families between these two models.

As four-wheel drive sport-utility vehicles, the Pilot and 4Runner edge towards usage in the great outdoors. But they really take different paths in doing so. The 4Runner is a traditional frame-based SUV, at a time when few three-row SUVs beside those substantially larger than either the 4Runner or Pilot remained with a body-on-frame construction. The Pilot, on the other hand, has always been a car-based crossover—just as the market began a huge shift in that direction—so it's simply more refined, with better handling and ride. And that's true in this new generation to a greater degree than ever.

3.2. Cargo Space

Pilot: Roomy cargo area. 4Runner: Greater cargo space. Both vehicles seat five passengers, but the Pilot also offers an optional third-row seat to accommodate two additional passengers, bringing its seating capacity to seven. The 4Runner is available with a third-row seat that boosts seating capacity to seven. However, the Pilot provides greater cargo space, and the 4Runner's third-row seat is very small and only suitable for children. With all seats folded, the Pilot has 87 cubic feet of cargo space - an ample amount for this category. The 4Runner provides 75 cubic feet of cargo space. During regular use with second-row seats up, the Pilot still has 47 cubic feet of cargo space while the 4Runner offers just 46 cubic feet. The Pilot provides an under-floor cargo bin on higher level trims. The 4Runner has a sliding cargo floor which is useful for accessing heavy items in and out of the SUV, but the bin and the access would eat into the vehicle's overall cargo area. The 4Runner has a power rear window that raises into the tailgate suitable for loading long items or improving ventilation within the vehicle. Both vehicles have a roof rack for additional cargo carriage.

3.3. Ride Quality and Noise

The Honda Pilot, being a mid-sized SUV, leads the competition with the Toyota 4Runner in ride quality. The Pilot has a car-based unibody construction that promotes better handling and a more comfortable ride. The 4Runner, on the other hand, still uses the older style body on frame construction. Though great for off-road capabilities, it hinders the 4Runner in ride quality. It should be noted though the Pilot comes with 2WD or AWD, and the AWD version only enhances the Pilot's confidence in inclement weather. The 4Runner's ride quality can be further degraded depending on the model. The SR5 or Limited models are more likely to offer a smoother ride, while the TRD models will ride stiffer as they come with specialized off-road equipment. This makes the decision on 4Runner trim tough depending on how it will be used. On-road travel with some off-road activities may call for a SR5 or Limited model, while more serious off-road use promotes the TRD models. The noise factor directly ties into ride quality. A more quiet cabin can often lead to better comfort on a long drive. Both SUVs fare well with minimal road noise. The Pilot, however, takes the upper hand with a smoother and quieter engine. The 4Runner offers good insulation from wind and road noise but the engine can be noisy under heavy acceleration.

4. Pricing and Value

The base MSRP for the 2023 Honda Pilot has yet to be released, so it is not clear what jumping off point this model will have. For the 2022 model, the base MSRP was $32,550, so it is likely that there will be a slight increase in the 2023 model. Additionally, the 2022 Honda Pilot was offered in 6 trims: the LX, EX, EX-L, SE, Touring, Elite. The additional trims allow for more customizable options for your vehicle, from navigation options to front and rear parking sensors. This range in price allows for buying options for many people. In comparison, the 2023 Toyota 4Runner has a base MSRP of $36,765 for the SR5 model, higher than the 2022 Pilots base price. The 4Runner's price then increases up to $49,865 at the Limited model, and then also has the TRD and Nightshade Special Editions. Although the 4Runner is more costly than the Pilot, it is very similar in a way of providing different options for driving dynamics, off-road capabilities, and different terrain driving settings for these different trims. The similar range provides similar options and price jumps for more customizable and luxurious features. These higher priced trims also align with 4.1 and the different driving capabilities that they offer, as they require more maintenance to keep up with the more rugged and off-road style of driving. A completely standard factory warranty is offered for both the 4Runner and the Honda Pilot at 3 years/36,000 miles. This warranty will cover any repairs or replacements of parts that fail due to a defect in materials or workmanship, based on mileage and time whichever occurs first. Additional warranties that are relevant to price would be the 4Runner's non-factory 2 year/25,000 mile Toyota Auto Care prepaid maintenance plan and the 3 year/35,000 mile Honda Care Maintenance Plan. These prepaid plans are purchased separately, but they cover regular maintenance like engine oil changes and tire rotations at a set discounted price. The purchase of these plans are a good option for anyone, as failure to perform the specified maintenance within the given mileage on a vehicle can void warranty coverage. This is a very important factor to consider in the overall maintenance expense of the vehicle.

4.1. Base Price and Trims

Both the Honda Pilot and the Toyota 4Runner have various different trims that offer different features. For the Honda Pilot, it has various different trims that consist of the LX, EX, EX-L, SE, and the EX-L with Navigation. The base 2WD LX Pilot starts at a manageable price of $27,895. The EX starts at $30,395 with the EX-L at $33,395. Adding on Navigation with the system installed brings the price up to $35,395 and an additional $1000 for the RES. As for the 4WD models, it is an additional $1,250 to add the system onto the vehicle. The 4Runner liked to boast on being rugged and reliable for off-road terrain as there are various different upgrades to different trims for the vehicle. The trims for the 4Runner consist of the SR5, Trail Edition, SR5 Premium, Limited, and the top of the line Nightshade Edition and TRD Pro. The SR5 starts at $36,765 and the Nightshade Edition and TRD Pro are both a hefty $51,645. For an SUV, you are getting a lot of car for the cheap price of the base models. The 4Runner SR5 must have the least amount of features due to the SR5 Premium only being $210 higher. From the base models, the 4Runner is a lot cheaper than the Pilot aside from the $36,765 base price. Adding 4WD to the vehicle is an additional $2,275. The biggest jump in price for the 4Runner is from the Limited model to the Nightshade Edition. With a price difference of $1,575, the Nightshade/Pro model is a big wallet-breaker but with all the features that the 4Runner is known for. In comparison between the base models, the Hondas are cheaper than the 4Runners but lack of price gap is apparent for the jumps in Pilot trims between the Pilot and the 4Runner. Although the Pilots are cheaper, the high cost of 4Runners are justified by the rugged and reliable nature and features that are incalculable in comparison to the Pilots.

4.2. Warranty and Resale Value

Let's talk warranty first. Both these cars come with the standard three-year warranty, however, Honda does not impose a mileage cap, whilst Toyota is limited to 100,000 miles. Personally, time constraints seem to make more sense than mileage, but neither will affect the average buyer. Honda does redeem itself with a special six-year warranty deal solely for the 4WD Pilot as of the 2006 models, which is a bonus due to the complexity and rarity of such a system in a crossover. Moving onto the resale comparison of these cars. As a general rule, the 4Runner has an excellent resale record, undoubtedly due to its reliability and appealing price for an older, higher mileage car. The fact that it has changed very little over the years means that a used 4Runner is not much different from a new 4Runner in terms of looks and capabilities. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Pilot. Due to its non-offroad nature and constant comparison to the far more popular MDX, it does not hold value particularly well, and that's putting it nicely. A steep decline in price has been seen in every model year, so if you're looking to swap out your Pilot for a newer model, be prepared to lose a chunk of change. This could, however, work to the advantage of a buyer on the other end if you're in the market for a used Pilot.

4.3. Fuel Efficiency and Maintenance Costs

Both the Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner provide similar estimates in terms of fuel consumption. Gas mileage is important, especially among the SUV category of vehicles. With constant fluctuation in gas prices, and with the states of the current economies in many countries, it is safe to assume that the four-cylinder mid-size SUV is and will continue to be a popular choice for buyers. The Honda Pilot should achieve fuel estimates of 11.2 L/100 km in the city and 8.8 L/100 km on the highway. The Toyota 4Runner compares to this with estimates of 10.1 L/100 km in the city and 8.7 L/100 km on the highway. It is clear that the 4Runner provides better fuel efficiency and at only a marginal rate. This is likely not a deal breaker for potential buyers, nevertheless it is worth consideration. Step up the fuel economy of Honda's AWD Pilot models and the 2WD or 4WD models, and it becomes a Honda CR-V or Pilot, and 8.0 L/100 km versus 9.9 L/100 km. This would be a substantial difference and indeed be a deal breaker in terms of fuel efficiency, but that scenario is for another comparison. And it is common knowledge that any vehicle with AWD will have decreased fuel efficiency compared to its 2WD counterpart.

Fuel efficiency


Berg, A., 2021. Canoo Link: From City to Nature. diva-portal.org

Peters, W. J., 2022. At Heaven's Door: What Shared Journeys to the Afterlife Teach about Dying Well and Living Better. sharedcrossing.com

Ronspies, K. B., 2020. Evaluation and Update of MASH Test Vehicles. unl.edu