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Old 10-12-2013, 02:50 PM   #1
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Highlander vs a Pilot

Howdy, I am looking at purchasing a Highlander or Pilot, to tow a 17b Escape. From what I can see, both will do the job just fine. So I am curious for those of you who have looked at/purchased one of these vehicles, what tipped the scales for or against either of these? Any input would be great - thanks!
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:13 PM   #2
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I think that's going to be personal preference.
But, I do want to report that my buddy finally got his Hyundai Santa Fe back after four months with a loaner. Hyundai could not provide required engine parts for his vehicle ( and more than 250 others ), so the dealer eventually sent it out to an engine shop where the cylinders were bored for new larger pistons.
He got the vehicle back on Friday. Last night he reported that he was at the ferry dock, the check engine light was on, and the Santa Fe felt like it was dragging a 15,000 lb. trailer with no wheels on it.
He is not a happy camper.
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:30 PM   #3
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I think we need more information to give you a recommendation. I am most familiar with the Highlander, they make so many different models of the Highlander, some are adequate, some are outright inappropriate.

Both these vehicles have been used by members, the Highlander gets very good comfort recommendations. With any vehicle I believe a factory towing package is a must, it can be added later but I am not sure I would do it. Next would be a V-8, when towing torque is important, if you compare a V-6 and a V-8 that is usually a difference. Forget about miles per gallon, in the overall scheme of things any towing vehicle capable of hauling your trailer is going to get low mpg or kpg. Diesels would be nice but our countries do not have the choices that are found in Europe.

I have the Highlander on my short list for a replacement vehicle, not on the top, that would be the Pilot followed by another 4Runner with the Ford Flex at the end of the list.
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Old 10-13-2013, 01:06 PM   #4
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Also, note that standard equipment and tow options on a vehicle may be different in Canada and U.S. so you need to make sure you're getting what you think you are getting.
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Old 10-13-2013, 02:38 PM   #5
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Next would be a V-8, when towing torque is important, if you compare a V-6 and a V-8 that is usually a difference.
Talking about the Highlander or Pilot, you're talking 4 cylinder vs. 6 cylinder. 8 cylinder is not an option.

Before I bought my Frontier, I considered the Highlander. DIdn't look at the Pilot. The Highlander lost because of up-front cost relative to the Frontier, not to mention that for my needs, the small pickup is more functionally appropriate.
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Old 10-13-2013, 02:40 PM   #6
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I totally agree with the recommendation to forgot about mpg or kpg, performance (torque) is much more important! That's why (unfortunately) I am going to sell my Frontier for a larger truck. I just don't believe it will handle the new 5.0 as needed. I love my Frontier, its a great truck, just not well suited to handle what I expect to be a much heavier 5.0.
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Old 10-13-2013, 02:41 PM   #7
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I think we need more information to give you a recommendation. I am most familiar with the Highlander, they make so many different models of the Highlander, some are adequate, some are outright inappropriate.
Although there are a few engine/transmission choices, as well as maybe 2WD versus 4WD, all Highlanders of a given year have the same body and structure, of the same size; they're not like pickup trucks. Most of the variation is just trim level and options, most of which don't matter to towing.

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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
With any vehicle I believe a factory towing package is a must, it can be added later but I am not sure I would do it.
In some cases yes, but some features are not at all reasonable to add later. The non-hybrid Highlander's V6 is Toyota's 2GR-FE; at least in other models, the towing prepped version of this engine has an engine oil cooler which would be prohibitively expensive to retrofit.

With any vehicle, I would certainly be careful to get it properly equipped from the factory with the parts that don't just bolt on.
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Old 10-13-2013, 02:52 PM   #8
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towing torque is important, if you compare a V-6 and a V-8 that is usually a difference.
If there is that difference, it is due to displacement (size); the number of cylinders doesn't matter much. Those huge engines in big highway trucks hauling 20 to 70 tons are typically six-cylinders (as is the Cummins in a Ram pickup). True, in practice, 8-cylinder engines in light vehicles are typically bigger than 6-cylinder engines (whether V6 or straight 6) in similar vehicles.
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Old 10-13-2013, 03:56 PM   #9
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We own a Highlander and my wife's sister owns a Pilot. Both of our vehicles have been used for towing around 3500 lbs. For towing a 17b either vehicle with the towing package would work well. I also think it comes down to personal preference - both reliable with strong V6's. I suggest take both out for a drive, compare price and reputation of the local Dealer's.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:02 PM   #10
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Wow! Thanks for all your comments! I should be honest up front, I am an Escapee wannabe . I have a tent trailer now, and it is time to move on. So first the vehicle then the trailer. It does sound like it comes down to personal preference but will certainly keep in mind making sure the engine/towing specs are good. I have heard though, that you should really reduce the stated towing capacity by ~30%, and that would be the true capability of the vehicle??
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:16 PM   #11
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A lot of people prefer to derate the vehicle towing capacity. I don't agree. I figure the manufacturers make their ratings in a very conservative manner, so effectively they've already derated it for you.

But, the further you are below your vehicles towing capacity, however you define that, the safer you will likely be. So I won't argue with anybody who wants to set their personal limits lower than I might.

If you go through my past posts, you'll see that I went through the vehicle search several months ago. And got rather angsty about the whole thing... In the end I decided that my problem was that I was looking for the right answer, and there was no right answer. Every vehicle had some problem. In the end I had to compromise. For me, the right compromise was a small truck. I'm happy with it every day I don't have to fill the tank.

I recommend you think about your wants and needs, but don't fret too much if you can't find the perfect solution. Good enough is good enough.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba55 View Post
I totally agree with the recommendation to forgot about mpg or kpg, performance (torque) is much more important! That's why (unfortunately) I am going to sell my Frontier for a larger truck. I just don't believe it will handle the new 5.0 as needed. I love my Frontier, its a great truck, just not well suited to handle what I expect to be a much heavier 5.0.
Hi: Sduba55... I for one am going to try our 2010 Frontier long bed V6 with the new 5.0. Reace feels sure that the truck can handle the trailers slight extra weight/size. I have no reason to doubt this. Time and distance will tell though. Alf
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenM View Post
Howdy, I am looking at purchasing a Highlander or Pilot, to tow a 17b Escape. From what I can see, both will do the job just fine. So I am curious for those of you who have looked at/purchased one of these vehicles, what tipped the scales for or against either of these? Any input would be great - thanks!
Karen:

For the last year we have been towing our Escape 13 with a 2012 Toyota Highlander V6 all wheel drive. Factors in choosing it:
  • It has adequate towing capacity -- 5000 pounds -- our trailer's loaded weight is about 2000 pounds. Although we have no plans for getting a larger trailer, others are using a similar vehicle for towing an Escape 19
  • Highlander has had high ratings for reliability and performance from Consumers Reports.
  • We wanted a vehicle which was pleasant for driving, flexible for different uses (touring, towing, hauling)

Our Highlander came standard with transmission cooling, heavier alternator. We had to add a brake controller, 7 way wiring, hitch receiver.

Performance has been good.

We considered a 2012 RAV4 V6 as an alternative, but did not like the side-swinging tailgate. The 2013 RAV4 has a lifting tailgate but would not be able to tow our trailer. We did not consider the Honda Pilot, although it probably would also have been a good choice.
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:04 PM   #14
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I have heard though, that you should really reduce the stated towing capacity by ~30%, and that would be the true capability of the vehicle??
This assumes that the person who established the limits is incompetent... why assume that? In fact, the limits are all set with appropriate margins included, so there's no need to add more.

I think this additional reserve approach may be popular because many people don't consider all of the applicable limits - they just see 3500 pounds (for instance) as a maximum trailer weight, and don't check Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, Gross Axle Weight Ratings, or Gross Combined Weight Rating; those are all explained in the typical owners manual. The 30% (or whatever) reduction is to allow the careless to get away with it.

For instance, a vehicle with a 3500 pound trailer limit may be overloaded (rear axle load too high, total with trailer too much for the transmission, etc) with only 3000 pounds of trailer... if it is also carrying six people and pile of luggage. Arbitrarily cutting the towing capacity to 2500 pounds might keep someone from operating that overloaded combination, but it would also keep someone else from perfectly reasonably towing a 3500 pound trailer without that extra passenger and cargo load.

I have a Toyota Sienna and I have looked at the ratings for the somewhat related Highlander - I would have no problem running right up to the rated limits. The Pilot is a similar vehicle from a comparable manufacturer, and so I would not expect any problem there, either.
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by KarenM View Post
I should be honest up front, I am an Escapee wannabe . I have a tent trailer now, and it is time to move on. So first the vehicle then the trailer.
I think this makes a lot of sense. Selecting the vehicle with the end use in mind can only help in getting something that will perform well in the way you will actually use it.

Of course it's somewhat circular: you have picked the trailer probably with the required size of tow vehicle in mind, then pick the vehicle, and may refine the trailer choice when you see what the vehicle you like really has for towing capability.
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Old 10-14-2013, 01:19 PM   #16
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One more comment:

A hybrid drivetrain potentially offers significant fuel savings in urban use, and my be desired for the non-towing use of this vehicle. If a hybrid is desired - with the understanding that it would likely have little benefit which towing a trailer down the highway - then Toyota offers the only option for this type of vehicle. If the Highlander Hybrid is not of interest, then the non-hybrid Highlander and the Pilot are closely comparable choices.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:41 PM   #17
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Yes, I have been going around in circles and just need to bite the bullet and make a decision. Thanks all, for your comments and suggestions particularly about the towing weight thing. On to test drive the Pilot!
Karen

PS It seems much more fun to check out trailers than vehicles!
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:53 PM   #18
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I remember the old days, when all you had to was look at a car and fall in love. Now, they all look the same.
I did a test drive of a Toyota Tacoma and when I got back to the dealership, it could have been a Camry for all I cared.
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:49 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenM View Post
Howdy, I am looking at purchasing a Highlander or Pilot, to tow a 17b Escape. From what I can see, both will do the job just fine. So I am curious for those of you who have looked at/purchased one of these vehicles, what tipped the scales for or against either of these? Any input would be great - thanks!
I have a Pilot, and we like it very much. It does great at towing our 19. The Highlander too is a great vehicle. Both are very capable. I think either will do you good, and test driving both will give you an idea which you like best.
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Old 10-14-2013, 06:23 PM   #20
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Humm, I'm kind of a backwards thinker. For me, it's all about where do I need/want to end up. Then I move to the beginning that gets me there.

Over the years, I've read where folks have purchased tugs. They're available on every street corner in any major city. All molded towables are not, there's limited availability and limited places to buy.

More than one person has regreted getting the tug first. A big bucks outlay only to find the trailer of their dreams at a perfect price point becomes available. BUT, the tug won't tow it!

So, I caution you. Unless you've absolutely, positively made up your mind about which trailer you WANT. Make that decision, then don't look back...
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