2015 Ford Explorer vs Toyota Highlander

March 31st, 2017 by
2015 Ford Explorer

The 2015 Ford Explorer and the 2015 Toyota Highlander are among the best three-row crossover SUVs on the market. Both combine the space and utility of an SUV with the comfort and features of a family sedan. Shoppers can choose from a variety of trim model for a crossover that’s as luxurious as they desire. If you’re having trouble choosing between the Escape and the Highlander, check out our four-category comparison.

2015 Ford Explorer vs Toyota Highlander

Passenger Space

The 2015 Ford Explorer is our pick for cabin space and comfort. Inside, Ford uses high quality materials, giving the space a luxurious feel. The supportive front seats keep passengers comfortable throughout long commutes. Big families can spread out over three rows of seating. On highway drives, the cabin remains peaceful and quiet. In back, drivers can fill 80 cubic feet of cargo space with road trip luggage or large shopping hauls.

The 2015 Toyota Highlander isn’t far behind in terms of space and comfort. Families will find a variety of storage features, including a shelf built into the dashboard, designed to store smartphones and small personal items. Behind the rear seats, drivers can fill a slightly larger cargo area of 83.7 cubic feet.

Power and Performance

The 2015 Ford Explorer is our pick in this category because it offers a strong base engine. All models but the Sport are equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes a hefty 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. Shoppers can choose between two- and four-wheel drive. Those who choose two-wheel drive can opt for a turbo-charged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that increases fuel efficiency. On the road, it achieves an impressive 20 city/28 highway mpg. The Sport models are equipped with a turbo-charged version of the V6 that produces 365 horses and 350 pound-feet of torque. Both V6 engines can tow maximum loads of 5,000 pounds. The four-cylinder Explorers can tow up to 2,000 pounds

The 2015 Toyota Highlander base engine is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder that makes 185 horses and 184 pound-feet of torque. Higher trim models are equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 270 horses and 248 pound-feet of torque. Properly equipped, the XLE and Limited models can tow up to 5,000 pounds.


The 2015 Ford Explorer is our pick for best features. It comes standard with everything drivers need for a safe, comfortable commute. Shoppers can choose between four models, the base, XLT, Limited, and Sport. The midrange XLT is packed with high-tech features. Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity lets users stream music and make hands-free calls. Ford’s Sync technology means drivers can interact with infotainment options using voice commands. The upscale Limited saves time in the parking lot with keyless ignition and entry. A 110-volt power outlet keeps devices charged on the go.

The 2015 Toyota Highlander is available as the LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum models. It competes well with the Explorer, offering an impressive range of standard items. Users can interact with entertainment options via a 6.1-inch color touchscreen. The mid-range XLE comes with additional high-tech features, including keyless entry and ignition. Leather upholstery increases passenger comfort.


The 2015 Ford Explorer earned excellent crash tests ratings and protects passengers with a wide range of standard safety items. Ford’s MyKey system lets parents set speed parameters for teen drivers. The stability control system comes with Curve Control technology to monitor speed carried into the Explorer’s corners and, if necessary, automatically decelerate. In government crash tests, the Explorer earned a perfect five-star rating for overall protection.

The 2015 Toyota Highlander also earned five stars for overall protection. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera to help drivers reverse safely. The Limited can be equipped with a number of high-tech safety systems to increase driver vigilance, including lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

Learn More about the Ford Explorer

2015 Ford Explorer

Although it was almost too close to call, the 2015 Ford Explorer pulls ahead of the 2015 Toyota Highlander in every category. Families can count on its high standards in safety and a long list of protective equipment. Shoppers can choose from a wide range of trim models to equip the Explorer with as many comfort and convenience features as they require. The Explorer’s V6 engine lineup delivers smooth power and precise steering. Passengers can spread out in the Explorer’s roomy, comfortable cabin.