At first, it might be tough to tell the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid apart. They have a lot in common – like three rows of seating, sporty utility, and fuel-sipping hybrid powertrains. But, when you look closer, you’ll find that one of these hybrid crossovers is definitely a better choice than the other.
Lavish Passenger Space: 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid
With three roomy rows of seating, the Explorer Hybrid serves as a first-rate family runabout. Newly redesigned for 2020, this Ford is seriously spacious. Seating is also designed for long-term comfort, with nicely shaped cushions that are big on support. You can even add little luxuries to this hybrid crossover with leather upholstery and front seats with massage settings.
For the Highlander, high points include comfy seats and plenty of headroom. The Highlander Hybrid also provides three rows of seating, but you’ll find that the third row is best suited for kids. It’s a little short on legroom. Compared to the redesigned Explorer, the Highlander’s cabin design also seems a bit dated.
Savvy Tech Lineup: 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid
The Explorer offers all the latest in-cabin technology. The Sync 3 system is easy to use, thanks in part to a responsive 8-inch touchscreen and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone features. You’ll also love its safety lineup. A wide range of safety aids – including lane departure mitigation and automatic emergency braking – come standard, keeping you safer at no extra cost.
In the safety department, the Highlander Hybrid also shines. Among a long list of standard tech gadgets, you’ll find a pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. The road sign assist technology helps you keep track of speed limits and other important notices. However, although the Highlander Hybrid also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Toyota’s Entune infotainment system isn’t as user-friendly. Menus can be less than intuitive and the touchscreen can be slow to react.
Sporty Hybrid Performance: 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid
The Explorer Hybrid puts an emphasis on performance, making it a best-in-class pick for fun-loving drivers. Its standard rear-wheel-drive performance makes for sporty handling and impressive towing performance. Properly equipped, Ford’s hybrid crossover can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Add all-wheel drive for a little extra traction when you need it, such as on dirt paths or icy pavement.
The Highlander Hybrid comes standard with front-wheel drive, which makes it generally less sporty than the rear-wheel-drive Explorer Hybrid. You can add all-wheel-drive, however, to enhance performance on soft surfaces. This crossover can also tow a boat – just not as big a boat as the Explorer can manage. Properly equipped, the Highlander Hybrid can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
More in Efficiency: 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid follows with 28 mpg combined (27/29 mpg). That’s certainly not bad – especially when you consider what this hybrid crossover can do. The Explorer Hybrid might put an emphasis on performance, but it balances sporty capabilities with efficiency.
Of the pair, the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is the most efficient. However, the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid is the best choice for drivers who want a hybrid with sporty capabilities and modern interior features.