Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 Honda Pilot VS 2015 Ford Explorer Near Phoenix, AZ

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2016 Honda Pilot

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2015 Ford Explorer

Safety Comparison

The Pilot (except LX) offers an optional Collision Mitigation Braking System, which uses forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Explorer offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Honda Pilot has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Explorer doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Pilot Touring/Elite has standard Parking Sensors to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Explorer doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Pilot and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Ford Explorer:





5 Stars

4 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Stress

189 lbs.

305 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

69 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

452/475 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Explorer:



Overall Evaluation






Head Neck Evaluation



Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

13 cm

Chest Evaluation



Hip & Thigh Evaluation



Femur Force R/L

.1/.5 kN

3.7/2.2 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L



Lower Leg Evaluation



Tibia index R/L



The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Ford Explorer:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.8 inches

Abdominal Force

101 G’s

135 G’s

Hip Force

269 lbs.

295 lbs.

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

304 lbs.

524 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

22 inches




Spine Acceleration

45 G’s

53 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Pilot its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2015, a rating granted to only 64 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Explorer is not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2015.

Reliability Comparison

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Explorer have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda fifth in reliability, above the industry average. With 72 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 24th.

Engine Comparison

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 40 more horsepower (280 vs. 240) than the Explorer’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 255) than the Explorer’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Honda Pilot is faster than the Ford Explorer V6:



Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

7.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.1 sec

21.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.3 sec

7.9 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

89 MPH

Top Speed

114 MPH

108 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the Pilot gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer:




3.5 V6/9-spd Auto

20 city/27 hwy

17 city/24 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

3.5 V6/6-spd Auto

19 city/27 hwy



3.5 V6/9-spd Auto

19 city/26 hwy

17 city/23 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

3.5 V6/6-spd Auto

18 city/26 hwy


An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The Explorer doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Pilot Touring/Elite’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Explorer doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Explorer with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Pilot has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the Explorer (19.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Explorer doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Explorer doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .80 G’s, while the Explorer Limited 4WD pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis Comparison

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 550 pounds less than the Ford Explorer.

The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Explorer doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space Comparison

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Explorer can only carry up to 7.

The Pilot has 1.8 inches more front hip room, .7 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear hip room, 1 inch more rear shoulder room, 1.1 inches more third row headroom, 3.9 inches more third row hip room and 6.8 inches more third row shoulder room than the Explorer.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The Explorer’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the Explorer.



Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

43.8 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

80.7 cubic feet

Ergonomics Comparison

The Pilot’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Explorer’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. The Explorer XLT/Limited/Sport’s rear windows don’t close automatically.

The Pilot has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Explorer doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard on the Pilot, connecting the driver and passenger’s cell phones to the vehicle systems. This allows them to use the vehicle’s stereo and hand controls to place calls safely and easily. Bluetooth costs extra on the Explorer.

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