Head to Head

Ford Explorer vs Honda Pilot

For some people, they want their SUVs in one size: Big. Luckily for us, the market is abundant with such choices. When it comes to the large SUV segment, there is perhaps one brand that springs up in many people's mind and that would be Ford. The American automaker offers a wide variety of SUVs and one their biggest offerings is the Explorer. Not to be outdone, Honda comes out guns blazing with the U.S-built Pilot. Like the Explorer, it's bigger than the average SUV with a healthy dose of power and luxury. This week's head to head is a shootout between an all-American SUV and an American-born Japanese contender. How does each one stack up? Let's take a look.

This week's head to head pits the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer. Both may be born in the USA but each has unique propositions to sway customers to either side. Let us start with the engine, starting with the Ford.

The Ford Explorer is available with two engines. It starts with a 2.3-liter, turbocharged inline-four engine that produces 274 PS and 408 Nm of torque in the Limited. For those looking for more, there is also a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine with a total output of 370 PS and 470 Nm of torque for the Sport. Moving to the Honda Pilot, there may be only one engine choice but it's a punchy one. Propelling the Pilot is an uprated version of the brand's 3.5 liter i-VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management. It puts out 284 PS and 355 Nm and, unlike the Explorer, the Pilot is naturally aspirated. Both big SUVs shift via a six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode.

Front-wheel drive is standard with the 2.3-liter Explorer while the 3.5-liter model gets all-wheel drive. Meanwhile, the Honda Pilot comes standard with all-wheel drive which the automaker calls i-VTM4. For their suspension systems, the Honda Pilot rides on MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup at the rear. The Ford Explorer also uses MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link suspension at the back although the V6 Explorer gets a sportier tune.

Let's now take a look at each SUV's interior. Black leather dominates the interior of the Pilot, complemented by soft touch panels to boost cabin ambiance. Interior bright work is provided by silver trim on the dash and doors plus piano black trim on the center console. Bringing in more light inside is the Pilot's standard power sunroof. Measuring in at almost five meters long, the Pilot allows seating for eight passengers.

The Honda Pilot also comes with flexible seating. To access the third row, the Pilot comes with a One-Touch Second Row Walk-in that slides the second row seats forward. In addition, the Pilot comes standard with triple-zone climate control for front, second and third row occupants. Back to the driver's seat, a wide LCD screen serves as the car's multi-information display. For added convenience, the Pilot comes standard with a power tailgate.

In the Ford Explorer, it gets a wraparound dashboard, also trimmed in black. It too has silver trim to brighten up the interior, and so does the panoramic sunroof. There are minor differences in the Limited and the Sport. The Limited gets wood trim while the Sport gets billet aluminum. To keep passengers cool, there are also air-conditioning vents that reach to the third row. The Explorer also measures over five meters long and offers seating for seven.

Third-row access in the Explorer is done through a slide-forward second row seats. As a bonus, the Explorer, both the Limited and Sport, have power stow and set third row seats. A power tailgate is also standard for both variants. As for its multi-information display for the driver, it is projected through a small LCD screen with different sub-menus.

In the Pilot, infotainment is provided by an 8-inch touchscreen upgraded from the standard Honda units. The system allows full command of music, videos, applications, mobile browsing and smartphone mirroring. Devices can be paired via Bluetooth, HDMI and USB. In addition, it has a Rear Entertainment System that offers multimedia options to other passengers.

Meanwhile, the Ford Explorer comes with the brand's own Sync system. Powered by Microsoft, it offers a wide array of options and menus to suit the preference of the users from interior ambient light choices to various multimedia functions. These include music, videos, applications, mobile browsing and smartphone mirroring. Also standard is Bluetooth, HDMI and USB pairing.

Moving to their exteriors, the Ford Explorer front fascia follows the look of the marque's pickup and SUV lineup. At the front sits a three bar grille with large headlights on each side. Again, both variants get different looks to separate one from the other. Limited models have a silver grille while Sport models get black. More chrome detailing can be seen in the Limited, in contrast to the Sport's gloss black.

The Pilot's exterior sports Honda's Solid Wing Face design language that integrates the headlights and grill into one form. Moving to the lower half of the front fascia, it gets a honeycomb treatment on the lower half of the grill and air intakes. To give the car a more masculine look, the bottom half of the car is given black cladding. Pilots come with automatic LED projector headlights with automatic self leveling. These units are also accompanied by LED daytime running lights and foglights.

Seeing that both are designed to carry many passengers, it's time to discuss each car's safety equipment. That said, the Ford Explorer is equipped with AdvaceTrac with Roll Stability Control, Blind Spot Information System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Inflatable Seatbelts and SecuriCode keypad entry.

Moving on to the Pilot, it is equipped with Honda Sensing, that prevents accidents through various assists. Honda Sensing includes Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation, Collision Mitigation Braking System, and Forward Collision Warning. These are on top of ABS with EBD, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Assist and six airbags.

As for prices, the Ford Explorer starts at Php 2,545,000 for the Limited to Php 2,905,000 for the Sport. Only one variant is available for the Pilot with the 3.5 EX-L AWD which retails for Php 3,385,000.

Born in America and embraced in the Philippines, the Ford Explorer and the Honda Pilot are two prime examples of full-size SUVs. The Pilot and the Explorer are the type of cars you can bring to the great outdoors and drive up to the hotel lobby in great style and presence. Without a doubt, these are some of the most comfortable, well appointed SUVs in the market today. These two may have hefty price tags but believe us when we say these two are definitely a way to living large.

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