2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Honda Pilot – Cincinnati, OH

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  • 2020 Ford Explorer

    A black 2020 Ford Explorer is facing left.

    Starting at


    2020 Honda Pilot

    A black 2020 Honda Pilot is facing right.

    Starting at


    21 / 28 MPGFuel Economy 20 / 27 MPG
    300 - 400 HPHorsepower280 HP
    5,600 LBSTowing Capacity5,000 LBS

    If you’re in the market for a family-forward large SUV, then you might find interest in a comparison of the 2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Honda Pilot. On the surface, these two SUVs offer up plenty to love including a full suite of safety features and more than enough room for passengers and cargo, but if your goal is to find the SUV that best fits your family dynamic and your day to day lifestyle, you’ll want to learn more about what separates these two SUVs. In this comparison, we’ll peel back the veil to take a deeper look at how the Ford Explorer and the Honda Pilot differ in order to find the best option available to you. In a review of engine power, comfort, and onboard technology, we’ll reveal which SUV is the better buy.

  • Performance

    A red 2020 Ford Explorer ST, which wins when comparing the 2020 Ford Explorer vs 2020 Honda Pilot, is driving on a bridge near Cincinnati, OH.

    2020 Ford Explorer

    Ford SUVs have earned a reputation for providing drivers with a full bounty of engine options, each one being more powerful than the next. The 2020 Ford Explorer fits this description seamlessly, offering a wide variety of four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines to deliver the kind of power that drivers should be able to expect from a full-sized SUV. The 2020 Ford Explorer comes in four different trim levels, including the base XLT, Limited, Platinum, and ST models. 

    Standard Engine Choice on the Ford Explorer

    Entry-level models come with a 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 engine that puts out 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. This turbocharged engine utilizes a smooth 10-speed automatic transmission with selectShift capability. With this engine, you have the option to go with rear-wheel drive or intelligent four-wheel drive. All totaled, even this base engine exceeds expectations, providing specs that would be more appropriate in a larger engine.

    Getting More Power On Your Ford Explorer

    If that powerful four-cylinder engine isn’t quite enough for you, you can step up to the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine, which is rated for 400 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque on the ST trim. WIth the Platinum trim you will still have high performance but you will get up to 365 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. However, there is one more powertrain that expands the range of performance found in the Ford Explorer. 

    A Hybrid Option for the Ford Explorer

    This third powertrain option comes in the form of a hybrid that utilizes a 3.3-liter naturally aspirated V6 and an electric motor and battery to make for both more power and better fuel economy. This hybrid V6 engine gets an estimated 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque combined, so while it isn’t the most powerful engine in the Ford Explorer, it does provide better fuel conservation than any other available engine build available on this model.

    The Ford Explorer's Drive Modes

    Another worthwhile performance factor of the Ford Explorer is the fact that no matter what model you decide to buy, you’ll get to take advantage of capability-expanding drive modes. Models that don’t come with Ford’s four-wheel drivetrain will be able to swap through a collection of drive modes on the fly including: normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul, and eco. Should you purchase a four-wheel drive model, you’ll also get snow and sand modes, which make for a pretty intuitive off-roading experience.

    2020 Honda Pilot

    Where the Ford Explorer provides a sweeping range of engine builds, the Honda Pilot only offers one, and it takes the shape of a 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 280 horsepower and uses a pretty middling 6-speed automatic transmission to transfer thrust. As can be expected, one can purchase the Honda Pilot in either a two-wheel or four-wheel oriented drivetrain, which does expand on capability. It is important to note that you can upgrade the transmission to a competent 9-speed automatic transmission, however with a variety of trims including the LX, EX, and EX-L, drivers may be disappointed to find such a limited range of engine configuration.

  • Interior

    The front tan leather interior of a 2020 Explorer is shown.

    2020 Ford Explorer Cargo Space

    The 2020 Ford Explorer is a three-row SUV with more than enough room to satisfy family-drivers and the adventurer. For starters, the rear seats in the Ford Explorer can be folded flat with ease, ballooning the amount of available cargo space from 18.2 cubic feet to 87.8 cubic feet, and thanks to the 50/50 split of the third row, you’ll find a completely flat cargo bed. 

    Passenger Space and Comfort in the Ford Explorer

    That’s not to say that the Ford Explorer is all utility and no comfort. In fact, the cabin of the Ford Explorer feels particularly lush, even at lower trim levels. In the second row, passengers will find 39 inches of legroom to stretch out in, and in the last third row, 32.2 inches. As a result, calling the 2020 Ford Explorer would be a clear understatement. 

    Entry-level models get some plush yet durable cloth upholstery; however, should you decide to spend more cash, you can find genuine feeling leather. The second-row seats are also full captain seats, meaning first and second-row passengers can feel as though they’re on an even playing field. The interior of the 2020 Ford Explorer is practically luxurious, and things only improve as you step up to higher trims with add-ons like heated and cooled seats.

    The Explorer's Interior Technology Features

    On the subject of technology, the 2020 Ford Explorer comes with plenty of modern automotive tech to enjoy. Base models get features like an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, and a power liftgate, as well as LED headlights. It is worth noting that all infotainment systems in the Ford Explorer come with Ford SYNC 3, which makes them compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

    The XLT, on the other hand, bumps things up a notch with heated mirrors, power front seats, a keyless ignition, and an expanded instrument cluster. Move up to trims like the Limited and Platinum, and things become downright luxurious, with features like a wireless smartphone charger, seats that remember your adjustment settings, rain-sensing wipers, and a 110-volt AC outlet.

    2020 Honda Pilot

    The Honda Pilot is another large SUV that does accommodate both passengers and cargo. That said, the Honda Pilot does fall a little short compared to the Ford Explorer in the cargo department offering only 80 total cubic feet of cargo space. There is a bit more room for second-row passengers, though, as they’ll get 40 inches of legroom; however, third-row passengers can simply expect the same 32 available inches. Cloth upholstery dresses the base models, and should you choose to, you can upgrade the Ford Explorer to boast leather furnishings. That said, things falter a little when you turn your attention to the space inside the Pilot.

    Technology On the Honda Pilot

    Base models of the Honda Pilot are spartan, at best, with only a 5.0-inch display that doesn’t sport smartphone compatibility or touch controls. Higher-end models do push things to a more modern level with features like an 8.0-inch infotainment display that does get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and two USB charging ports; however, it takes a bit of upgrading to get to that point. Although, when you do get to this point, you’ll find decent comforts like heated and cooled front seats, a high-quality audio system, and a panoramic moonroof.

  • Safety Features

    A silver 2020 Ford Explorer is driving up a hill on a dirt road.

    Safety Features in the 2020 Ford Explorer

    Ford has clearly made an effort to incorporate active safety features in its flagship SUV. No matter what trim you purchase, the Ford Explorer sports a wealth of safety tech in the form of Ford’s Co-Pilot360 safety package. In this package, drivers will find hill start assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alerts. If this entry-level package isn’t enough for you, though, you can find even more safety tech in Ford’s Co-Pilot360 Assist+ package, which includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go, traffic-sign recognition, and active lane control. As a result, the Ford Explorer is bound to provide some serious peace of mind when behind the wheel.

    Safety Features in the 2020 Honda Pilot

    The Honda Pilot also makes a clear effort to provide active safety features in every model. Like the Ford Explorer, the Honda Pilot comes with a standard suite of safety features, with base models getting automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Should you decide to upgrade that standard trim, you’ll get blind-spot monitors. While it is nice to see that Honda included a standard safety package, some drivers may be disappointed to discover that they’ll need to upgrade their vehicle to get blind-spot monitors included in their set of safety features. 

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