Midsize SUVs have become very popular with families and adventurers in recent years. With generous cargo space, ample seating, and the ability to handle any terrain these vehicles have a lot to offer.
Toyota Highlander is the champion of this class for many reasons. If you want versatility the Highlander definitely delivers that, with dozens of trim level options. Still not satisfied? How about countless interior and exterior materials to choose from in a wide variety of colors? You can even opt for a hybrid-powered selection.
If you are considering the Highlander but aren’t 100% convinced, here are other options that might also suit you.
1. Honda Pilot
The Pilot is just as popular as the Highlander – and for good reason. They both come with third-row seating, a standard V6 engine, and sleek modern lines.
The Honda Pilot is modestly roomier for passengers than the Highlander, but the cargo areas are identical. The Pilot has a clear advantage when it comes to dashboards, it is much easier to use when navigating, with fewer buttons and a more intuitive design.
If you are looking for excellent fuel economy the hybrid option offered by Toyota is the way to go. We also see a more economical maintenance cost with the Highlander as well as a wider array of safety technology to keep you safe on the road.
2. Kia Telluride
When it comes to traveling with a carload of people the Kia Telluride and Toyota Highlander are equally roomy and capable and offer identical maintenance costs over the long term. How else do they compare?
The Telluride does not come in a hybrid option making it a tough comparison on fuel economy. But it makes up for that with a roomier third-row seat. The interior of the Telluride is more luxurious with plush high-end materials. If you worry about road noise, the Telluride has a nice quiet cabin.
The Highlander has been around longer and is the clear winner in standard features. We also find a stronger V6 engine and an available hybrid option which we do not see in the Kia. The Highlander gives us more driver engagement and body control, especially around corners.
3. Ford Explorer
It isn’t often that we see two vehicles with nearly identical pricing. It is no wonder that they are such fierce competitors. But how do they differ?
The Explorer offers a more powerful engine and comes in a 4-cylinder option if desired. We also see more interior color options with Ford.
However, the Toyota Highlander offers more seating capacity and a higher quality interior that stands the test of time. The standard safety features are more impressive on the Highlander and having a V6 or hybrid option is highly desirable. Overall, the Toyota is slightly cheaper to own over the long term due to significantly cheaper maintenance costs.
4. Subaru Ascent
The Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander have similar starting prices. Both SUVs tow 5000 pounds and come equipped with equivalent technology features.
The major differences between the two are the All Wheel Drive option being standard on the Ascent and an extra charge for AWD on the Highlander.
The Subaru Ascent offers ample storage behind the back row seats, quite a bit more than the Highlander, and comes with a standard power liftgate.
What the Toyota Highlander loses in cargo space it wins in headroom, leg room, and a whole extra seat. This makes it a favorite with taller passengers and drivers alike. You will also find more horsepower and torque with Highlanders’ standard V6 engine. The Highlander comes in with a more affordable yearly maintenance cost than the Subaru Ascent.
5. Hyundai Palisade
With the Hyundai Palisade, we find an interior equally spacious. Both SUVs ride well, tow well, and have great safety ratings and comparable maintenance costs.
The Palisade achieves a smaller purchase price and slightly better fuel economy than the Highlander. Hyundai is also famous for its far superior warranty and very large touch screens.
Toyota Highlander has a more opulent interior, featuring an electronic gear selector and a contoured dash. The Hybrid option makes the Highlander the most efficient three-row crossover SUV of any brand in its class.
6. Chevrolet Traverse
The Chevy Traverse is another SUV that comes well-equipped with excellent safety features. They both offer three rows of seating and available AWD. Here is how they compare.
In the Traverse, you will see a sizable third-row seat, as well as more overall cargo and passenger space. It also offers slightly more power on the road.
With the Toyota Highlander, you will save money on gas and maintenance costs, even if you don’t opt for the hybrid option. Reliability scores are higher with the Toyota as well as resale value over the life of the vehicle.
7. Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder is another great alternative to the Toyota Highlander. They have many similarities and are both known for safety, reliability, and remarkable off-road handling.
The Nissan Pathfinder is the category winner when it comes to the purchasing price. It is also a tad narrower and easier to park in smaller garages. Finally, we see a better warranty being offered by Nissan.
The Highlander takes the cake in the space department with more room everywhere. Here we also find a bargain on maintenance costs compared to the Nissan Pathfinder. The Toyota Highlander tows more and has more horsepower than the Nissan Pathfinder. We also notice many more trim levels and numerous ways to configure them for versatility that Nissan does not match.
8. Toyota RAV4
Have a look around the dealer parking lot and you will see our friend the Toyota RAV4. You might not think this compact SUV with only five seats could compare to the three-row eight-seat Highlander, but they are both highly rated in their class for good reason.
The RAV4 is a more rugged off-road choice, with a specific TRD Off-Road model offered. It also comes with a significantly lower price tag, cheaper maintenance costs, and better fuel economy.
If you drive with passengers often the Highlander is a clear choice, offering significantly more passenger and cargo room. You will also find more upscale interior trim, including a larger touchscreen as standard.
9. Toyota 4Runner
No comparison is complete without mentioning the Toyota 4Runner. Both of these SUVs offer high quality and an excellent reputation. The most glaring difference is in seating capacity, with the 4runner seating five and the Highlander seating as many as eight.
The 4Runner can be considered a more rugged version of the Highlander. The 4Runner can go fully offroad, while the Highlander is more suited to a bumpy parking lot. The 4Runner also boasts a superior warranty and higher reliability scores.
If you are looking for comfort, the Highlander is the one for you. With a more modern interior, plush finishes, and extra high-tech features as standard options. With the Highlander, you will also find a slightly better resale value and maintenance cost as well as admirable safety ratings.
10. Toyota Sienna
If you are looking for a true minivan as your three-row vehicle the Sienna is an excellent choice. The two vehicles have similar base prices and share a hybrid powertrain.
When it comes to family hauling the passenger and cargo areas of the Sienna are larger than the Toyota Highlander. We have the obvious benefit of sliding doors for loading and unloading passengers with ease. Also worth noting is the standard hybrid powertrain, which is an extra cost in the Highlander.
If you need a sportier-looking vehicle with higher ground clearance for more rugged terrain the Toyota Highlander is the clear winner. You will also benefit from a more powerful V6 engine and lower maintenance costs overall.