Highlander vs. Ford

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Comparing the Toyota Highlander and the Ford Explorer

Toyota has been having a banner year, with five-year costs of ownership on most of their vehicle lines demonstrating that they are not only great to drive, they are great investments. When looking at the big picture and making a decision about a vehicle, it’s important to know what that cost of ownership means and what other criteria are also important.

What Goes Into Cost of Ownership Estimates

When rating agencies talk about the five-year cost of ownership for a car, they are not talking about the cost of the vehicle. Instead, they are talking about the amount of depreciation it experiences, as well as estimated repair and gasoline costs, average insurance costs for the class, and so forth.

It’s important to understand that because brands that are generally known to be higher maintenance will reflect that in those breakdowns and estimates. The same goes for brands that are safer or more fuel efficient.

Toyota Highlander vs. Ford Explorer 2016

When looking at Ford and Toyota’s offerings in family-size sport utility vehicles this year, the key features that define the class are going to be power, fuel efficiency, safety, and comfort.

Reviewers are divided on comfort, with many chalking it up to a matter of taste because both vehicles are spacious and come outfitted with a variety of creature comfort and infotainment options. Power-wise, while the Explorer takes a slight edge, it has worse mpg than the economical Highlander. Looking at the total cost of ownership estimates for both vehicles, the trade-off is evident, because the cost of gas and maintenance is pronouncedly higher in the more powerful Ford, making the Highlander a more economical choice.

The good news is that the Toyota Highlander received the highest safety ratings in government crash tests, so it is both safe and comfortable for your family.


While both Ford and Toyota have put forth really spectacular vehicles this year, when looking at the question of Highlander vs. Explorer, the math is simple. With two vehicles this closely matched in performance, the edge has to go to the more economical, more affordable Toyota Highlander. Not only does it come through in every way as a well-rounded vehicle, it proves to be the best investment in the class.

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