2016 Ford Explorer vs 2016 Toyota Highlander

Ford Press Release Highlights

Building on 25 years of innovation and sales leadership, a new Ford Explorer is on its way with even more smart technology, a new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine and a new Platinum series. The new Ford Explorer arrives early this summer.
Even more smart technology – that’s what customers will get with the new Ford Explorer. It offers more technologies than previous models, features that enhance the driving experience. New technologies available in the 2016 Explorer include:
  • Front and rear cameras with washers: Both have wide-angle lenses and come equipped with a washer – a class-exclusive, segment-first feature
  • Enhanced active park assist with perpendicular park assist, park-out assist and semi-automatic parallel parking: The system uses ultrasonic sensors and electric power-assisted steering to help drivers with parallel parking and perpendicular parking maneuvers. Enhanced active park assist includes park-out assist to help a driver pull out of parallel parking spots. The system controls the steering wheel, while the driver operates the accelerator and brake pedals, and shifts the vehicle into gear
  • Smart-charging USB ports: Located in the front and rear of the vehicle are USB ports able to charge smart devices up to two times faster than conventional ports
  • Hands-free liftgate: A customer need only kick his or her leg below the center of the rear bumper to open or close the liftgate
  • Industry-exclusive 500-watt Sony® Audio System: Explorer Platinum will be the first Ford vehicle to get an all-new 500-watt Sony Audio System with Live Acoustics™ and Clear Phase™ technology
  • Active Grille Shutters: Upper and lower fascia openings close at highway speeds to reduce drag. At low speeds, the shutters open to deliver airflow to cool the powertrain
  • Air curtains: Standard air curtains create a high-pressure region of air that impacts the outer surface of the wheels and tires. The result is airflow held close to the vehicle body, minimizing drag
Capability – that’s what customers will get even more of with the new Explorer, thanks to an available 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine rated at 280 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 310 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm on premium fuel. Compared to the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder it replaces, the new 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine delivers an additional 40 horsepower and 40 lb.-ft. of torque – an increase of 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The standard 3.5-liter V6 engine for base, XLT and Limited models – with 290 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 255 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm – is paired with a six-speed SelectShift® Automatic transmission. Explorer Sport and the Platinum edition get a standard 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 making 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm – also mated with the six-speed SelectShift.

Explorer’s intelligent four-wheel drive with Terrain Management System™ reassesses conditions about 20 times faster than the blink of an eye – providing precise handling and traction.

Intelligent four-wheel drive continuously monitors wheel speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle to determine vehicle conditions and driver intent. The system then determines the optimal amount of front and rear torque for the given conditions to prevent slip from even occurring, which helps keep the vehicle sure-footed on virtually any terrain. In sand, grass or gravel mode, the antilock braking system changes its pulse rate, which allows material to build up in front of the wheels, acting as a doorstop of sorts to help slow momentum.

The new Explorer benefits from an improved suspension for better handling and a quiet cabin, enabling a comfortable ride even when the pavement turns to dirt.

Explorer also features a tower brace that provides additional stiffness between strut towers. The tower brace for Explorer equipped with four-wheel drive is three millimeters thicker for even more stiffness – providing better control and a smoother ride on rugged terrain.

Toyota Press Release Highlights

The Highlander didn't need much to get even better for 2016, but Toyota went ahead and made the towing package standard on all V6 models. The package includes a heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler, 200-watt fan coupling, supplemental transmission oil cooler and 150-amp alternator and allows the V6 models to tow a trailer up to 5,000 pounds. Other powertrain choices include a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder in the LE front-drive model, and Hybrid Synergy Drive with 280 total system horsepower. The four-cylinder and the V6 are both teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The LE front-wheel drive model’s standard 185-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine uses Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) for a thick torque curve. It’s teamed with a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, and the combination yields EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway/22 mpg combined.

All other gas grades come with a 3.5-liter V6 equipped with dual Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). The silky-smooth V6 generates 270-horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 RPM. It’s likewise teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, this version offering selectable manual sequential shifting. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined on FWD models and 18/24/20 for AWD.

Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive (AWD) 
The system takes input from various sensors (vehicle speed, steering speed and angle, throttle angle and yaw rate) to actively govern torque distribution to the rear wheels via an electromagnetically controlled coupling in the rear differential. Dynamic Torque Control automatically shifts to AWD when accelerating to help prevent front wheel slippage, or when sensors detect wheel slippage, varying front to rear torque distribution 100:0 to 50:50. Then, under normal cruising conditions, it engages front-wheel drive to help reduce fuel consumption. An AWD LOCK switch holds the 50:50 torque split for certain low-speed driving situations in challenging conditions. And you see it all happening in real time on the multi-information display, which shows torque-distribution info.
Highlander Hybrid: High Power, High Fuel Efficiency
The Highlander Hybrid impresses with power and efficiency. In fact, it’s the most powerful Highlander, with 280 total system horsepower from a Hybrid Synergy Drive system that pairs a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator. And it’s the most fuel-efficient Highlander, too, with EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/28 mpg highway/28 mpg combined fuel economy.
The stiff body structure, combined with finely tuned MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension, deliver the best-ever ride quality in a Highlander, and electric power steering contributes to the more dynamic character. Highlander rolls on standard 18-inch alloy wheels with 19-inch alloys standard on the Limited grade.
Toyota made the LE and LE Plus grades mono-spec, offered with no option packages. The XLE’s standard Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite features an 8-inch touch screen display. The Highlander XLE offers the option of seating for seven with second-row captain’s chairs, and a Blu-ray® DVD rear-seat entertainment system is also available.
A cabin highlight is the massive roll-top center console, which provides a comfortable armrest easily shared by the driver and front passenger – no arm-wrestling match needed. The console box is big enough to hold a very large handbag. An LCD Multi-Information Display within the gauge cluster puts vital information in the driver’s line of sight. It’s a 3.5-inch black and white screen in the LE and LE Plus grades and a 4.2-inch color screen in XLE and Limited.
Safety technology features include Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and rear parking sonar, while entertainment is upgraded with Entune Premium JBL® Audio with Navigation and App Suite. There are three option packages available to take the Highlander Limited (gas or Hybrid) higher still. One is a Blu-ray DVD rear-seat entertainment system. Second is the Driver Technology Package which adds more safety features, including:
  • Safety Connect (Emergency Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Roadside Assistance and Automatic Collision Notification. Available by subscription.)
  • Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Lane Departure Alert with Automatic High Beam Headlights

Photo Comparison

  • 2016 Ford Explorer Front View
  • 2016 Ford Explorer Front Side View
  • 2016 Ford Explorer Side Front View
  • 2016 Ford Explorer Side Rear View
  • 2016 Ford Explorer Rear Side View
  • 2016 Ford Explorer Interior
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander Front View
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander Front Side View
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander Side Front View
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander Side Rear View
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander Rear Side View
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander Interior

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