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2023 Ford Explorer Vs 2023 Toyota Highlander: Which Should I Buy in 2024?

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  • The 2023 Toyota Highlander is a fierce competitor of the Ford Explorer. 
  • As such, both SUVs are regarded as one of the best-selling midsize SUVs in their category. 
  • However, the Highlander has some benefits over the Explorer. And that benefit is the maintenance plan of the vehicle.

The Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander are longtime favourites in the midsize SUV segment. While both SUVs continue to be successful and have multiple strong points, they both have areas where they are better than the others.

In this article, we will be looking at the 2023 Ford Explorer and the 2023 Toyota Highlander to determine which of them has the better advantage over the other.

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The 2023 Toyota Highlander Has A Complimentary Maintenance Plan

2023 Toyota Highlander
2023 Toyota Highlander

Toyota Vehicles have a much-deserved reputation for lasting many miles and years. To help ensure this, it’s important to follow its maintenance schedule. The 2023 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV makes this a more affordable option with the maintenance plan.

It has the ToyotaCare for the Highlander, which is good for two years or 25,000 miles, and covers factory-scheduled maintenance for free. This includes oil changes, tire rotations, multipoint inspections, and topping off the fluids. The 2023 Ford Explorer does not offer a complimentary maintenance plan. So, while you can get all these services accessible on the Highlander, you have to cover the cost in Explorer.

The 2023 Highlander Has Better Reliability Than The 2023 Explorer

Apart from the free maintenance, the Highlander is also more reliable than the Explorer because it earned a high reliability mark. Experts like RepairPal gave the Highlander a reliability score of ⅘ while the Explorer gets a ⅗. So, not only do you get free maintenance with the Highlander, but you’ll also pay less for any repairs.

Other Advantages The 2023 Toyota Highlander Has Over The Ford Explorer

In addition to its free maintenance plan and reliability, the 2023 Highlander midsize SUV has some other advantages over the 2023 Explorer. They include:

  • Maneuverable for navigating traffic, parking, and driving through curves and around corners.
  • More efficient with its hybrid powertrain
  • The Highlander Hybrid gets an estimated gas mileage of up to 36 combined mpg, while the fully gas-powered model gets up to 25 combined mpg. 
  • The Highlander has a marginally lower starting price than the Explorer

2023 Toyota Highlander vs 2023 Ford Explorer: Which is Better?

2023 ford explorer
2023 ford explorer

The 2023 Toyota Highlander and the 2023 Ford Explorer are both popular midsize SUVs with similar features and capabilities. However, there are some key differences between the two models.

The Highlander is known for its fuel efficiency, with a standard hybrid powertrain that gets an EPA-estimated 36 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The Explorer, on the other hand, has a standard turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in combined city/highway driving.

Both vehicles are spacious, with three rows of seating and plenty of room for passengers and cargo. Both vehicles also offer a range of advanced safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring.

The Explorer has more engine options than the Highlander, it can be had in either a 2.3-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6, or a hybrid powertrain. The Highlander is only available with a hybrid powertrain.

The Toyota Highlander also has a reputation for reliability, consistently ranking well in consumer reports, while the Ford Explorer has a slightly lower reliability rating.

In terms of off-roading, off-road SUVs are all the rage now. It’s the best car for Nigerian roads. The 2023 Ford Explorer meets this demand with the highly-capable Timberline off-road model. If you want an SUV that can drive off the beaten path, then the Explorer is the way to go.

The 2023 Toyota Highlander doesn’t have an off-road model in its lineup. While Toyota offers off-road models for some of its other SUVs, including the RAV4, 4Runner, and Sequoia, there isn’t one available for the Highlander. The Highlander is great only for driving on good roads in the city. But it’s not so great for off-roading.

The great off-road capabilities of the 2023 Ford Explorer Timberline midsize SUV start with its standard intelligent Four-Wheel Drive system. The Intelligent 4WD also offered for other Explorer trims, delivers optimum traction on challenging terrain.

It’s a highly advanced system, for it proactively provides traction before wheel slippage can occur. This is accomplished by automatically adjusting the torque between the wheels according to the conditions and inputs from the driver. While the 2023 Toyota Highlander offers an all-wheel drive system, it’s not as advanced as the four-wheel drive system in the Timberline other Explorer models.

Additionally, the Explorer Timberline has a high ground clearance of 8.7 inches. High ground clearance enables the midsize SUV to more safely and effectively drive over uneven terrains, such as rocks. In comparison, the Highlander only has a ground clearance of up to 8.0 inches.

Overall, the choice between the 2023 Toyota Highlander and the 2023 Ford Explorer will depend on your personal preferences and needs. If fuel efficiency and reliability are important to you, the Highlander may be the better choice. If you prioritize power and engine options, the Explorer may be the better choice.

2023 Toyota Highlander vs. 2023 Ford Explorer Quick Spec

Highlighted Features2023 Toyota Highlander2023 Ford Explorer
Adaptive cruise controlYesNo, Optional Yes
Engine2.4L inline 4-cylinder3.0L EcoBoost® V6
Estimated Combined (MPG)2520
Base MSRP$36,620$52,005
Roadside assistance months / (mi)24 / 999999960 / 60000
Whole vehicle warranty months / (miles)36 / 3600036 / 36000


Both the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander have their edges over each other. The most important thing when buying is determining which of them is the best fit depending on your preferences. While both the Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander have hybrid SUVs, the Toyota Highlander offers a better suite of hybrid model options.

These come in the form of 5 hybrid trims, all of which come with a 2.5L L4HV Double Overhead Cam 16-valve D-4S Injection engine capable of delivering power comparable to top-grade SUVs. The Toyota Highlander has higher EPA-estimated mpg ratings than the Ford Explorer. It has a rating of 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined.* Compare that to the Ford Explorer’s rating of 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.

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