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Toyota Highlander vs. Ford Explorer
Toyota Highlander
Ford Explorer
At a Glance: Highlander vs. Explorer

Do you have a love for adventure? Do you need a large SUV to make sure you’ll have enough room to carry all your gear? In your search for an adventurous performer, you may have come across the 2023 Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer. If anything is true, it’s that adventure awaits in either of these rides.

Our team at Crabtree Toyota near Watertown, CT has crafted this in-depth comparison of the Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer. While these two SUVs are very similar, one of them outcompetes the other. Keep reading to find the winner!



11 | 8
Highlander vs Explorer


41.2″ | 40.7″
Highlander vs Explorer


8 | 7
Highlander vs Explorer
See the Difference for Yourself
Select a category below to learn more about how the Toyota Highlander compares to the Ford Explorer.

Toyota Highlander

In the great outdoors, there are multiple adventures you can take. Luckily, you don’t have to compromise on variety when it comes to the 2023 Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer.

The More Trims, the Merrier

Right off the bat, these SUVs offer many options to choose from: The Highlander offers 11 trim levels, while the Explorer offers eight. That way, you can configure your SUV the way that best accommodates you and your crew.

Of the Highlander’s 11 trims, seven of them are traditional gasoline-powered models and the remaining four are hybrids. While the Explorer offers conventional and hybrid models as well, the Toyota offers more variety to choose from than the Ford. So, if you want to configure the perfect SUV for your next adventure, the Toyota may be your best choice.

Inside Their Cabins

Once you climb inside their respective cabins, you’ll notice many similarities. Both the Highlander and the Explorer provide 8-way power driver’s seats and 3-zone automatic climate control systems with air filters, which offer comfort right out of the gate. Both models also have split-fold rear rows to configure as you need to accommodate passengers and their gear.

However, your back-seat passengers may be happier in the Toyota Highlander because they’ll have their own, separate control panel to set their preferred temperatures. There’s no separate panel in the Explorer. Plus, the Highlander comes standard with 14 cup/bottle holders as opposed to the 12 found in the Ford Explorer.



Toyota Highlander

Of course, whether you’re flying solo or have your whole crew along for the ride, the most important aspect of any vehicle is its safety features. You’ll want to be sure that you and everyone on board will reach your destination safely.

Peace of Mind Comes Standard

Much like you’d wear a helmet while mountain biking or a life vest while kayaking, the 2023 Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer offer active and passive safety systems to help protect you and your passengers. Starting with the Toyota, you’ll find the standard Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.5+ equipped on all trims. This system includes:

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
  • Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist /li>
  • Lane Tracing Assist
  • Road Sign Assist

While the Ford Explorer’s Ford Co-Pilot360™ system offers similar features to the Toyota’s safety suite, not all the aforementioned features come standard on all Explorer trims.

If you want top-notch standard safety no matter which trim level you choose, the 2023 Toyota Highlander brings peace of mind to every ride

Next-Level Safety

Both Toyota and Ford take safety as seriously as you do. That’s why both SUVs offer available driver-assistance features that will help ensure every trip—whether down the street, across town, or across the country—is a safe one.

The Highlander and the Explorer both have optional brand-specific versions of the following safety systems:

  • Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Panoramic View Monitor
  • Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking



Toyota Highlander

Today’s drivers rely on their vehicles for far more than merely transporting them from Point A to Point B. When you’re on the road, you’ll want to be able to remain connected, informed, and even entertained along the way.


Some entertainment on the road is a must, especially when traveling long stretches. Fortunately, both the 2023 Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer offer standard Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ integration systems. These systems allow you to play your favorite podcasts, music, or audiobooks through their standard 6-speaker audio systems, which can be upgraded to premium sound systems with speakers in the double digits. However, the Highlander provides five standard USB ports (including USB-C), while the Explorer gives you just two without an upgrade.

Daily Drivers for the Digital Age

Even when you’re cruising down the highway in the middle of belting your favorite song, you can still have a clear view behind you with the Highlander’s available digital rearview mirror. This innovative mirror uses a camera mounted high on the rear window to create a wider field of vision.

Unfortunately, the Ford Explorer doesn’t offer this high-tech rearview mirror, which can help you see clearly behind you—day or night.

Speaking of seeing, the Toyota Highlander has a standard 7-inch LCD Multi-Information Display to keep you in the know about your vehicle’s metrics. That information may be more easily viewed compared to the 4.2-inch display in the Explorer.


Are You Ready to Go on an Adventure?

Toyota Highlander

The 2023 Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer are very similar and capable when it comes to daily drives or weekend getaways on off-road trails. However, our team at Crabtree Toyota near Watertown, CT believes the Highlander can be your ideal on-road companion thanks to its standard safety systems, multiple trims, and technology.

Schedule a test drive of this impeccable ride at our dealership today!

All of the tools you need to move forward with experiencing a new 2023 Highlander for yourself are conveniently available right here online.