Highlander or Pilot to tow 17b (or 19) Escape? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-02-2021, 07:25 AM   #1
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Name: Jesse
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Highlander or Pilot to tow 17b (or 19) Escape?

I think we have narrowed down our choices for a 3 row SUV to the Pilot or Highlander. This would be to tow a 17B or possibly a 19 Escape. Both would be the 5k towing capacity. Probably no older than 2017. From the many posts I have been reading, I have read a lot more about the Highlander. So, I am leaning towards that one. I do like the Pilot because it is more spacious inside, particularly the third row. We have a family of 4 and possibly sometimes a grandmother or another adult (the fifth person most likely not when camping/towing).

Does it matter which vehicle? Should I just get whichever car I like better? Or is one of the two really better for towing? We also considered a Subaru Ascent, but I found out along the way that it actually wasn't the greatest for towing. I also considered an Atlas, but the MPG wasn't as good, although I liked the spaciousness!

Thanks!
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Old 04-02-2021, 08:24 AM   #2
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Besides roominess, another advantage of the Pilot is factory 7-pin trailer wiring, so adding a brake controller and a 7-pin connector is plug-and-play. Those two factors, plus a substantial price premium for a comparable used Highlander, tipped us toward a Pilot back in 2013. We bought a 2011 LX 2WD, now at 195K miles, to pull our 13’ Scamp and carry our family of four. We’ve had as many as 6 adults and 2 kids on board, though only for short, local outings and certainly not when towing!

Honda has gone through several transmission changes in the 3rd generation, and I’ve been hearing about some intermittent complaints. I’d recommend careful research to avoid the troublesome ones. The now-discontinued 6-speed, offered on lower trims in early 3rd generation models, would be my choice. I believe it’s derived from the reliable 5-speed used in the 1st and 2nd generations. The complaints seemed to center on the 9-speed, which was an all-new design for 2016. I haven’t researched the new ones thoroughly; those are just general impressions from things I’ve read.

With four people and gear, you could start bumping up against payload and/or rear axle limits with the larger 19’er. You might want to download and read the towing section of the owner’s manual for whatever model and year you’re looking at. Honda includes a chart showing how tow ratings decrease with extra people and/or gear. Pay attention to tongue weight, because you’ll likely hit that limit first. You can cross reference that information with actual weight data in the “Trailer Weights in the Real World” thread in the general chat section (post #401 links to a spreadsheet) to see whether the E19 is doable with a family on board.

In the end, Highlander and Pilot will both do more or less the same job, towing-wise, and the final choice may come down to subjective factors. For example I have generally found Honda seats more comfortable, and I liked the dash-mounted shift lever and roomy center console in the 2nd generation Pilot over the Highlander when we made our purchase. Both have evolved since then. Lots of complaints about Honda infotainment in the current generation. Especially when traveling it’s important to actually enjoy a vehicle rather than just tolerate it. Get something you and your family actually like.
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Old 04-02-2021, 10:15 AM   #3
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Most recently, Honda has been having issues with infotainment system problems. The rapid adoption of more sophisticated stuff in these cars has created quality challenges. Go to the various forums and read the postings.

Friends of ours bought a Honda CRV new (2020). It has been back to the dealer FIVE times for some mysterious parasitic battery drain problem. They are pursuing the lemon law. Battery has been replaced several times.

Its really sad, as we have been happy Honda owners, most recently with our 2010 Honda Element. It has almost 200,000 miles on it, no problems. But the electronics are very basic, no fancy stuff in this car. We would get a new Pilot to replace it, except for the well documented trouble out there.

Does this mean they are all bad? Of course not. But not the Honda quality I have been used to.

Highlanders have had some issues too.


https://www.piloteers.org/threads/20...issues.166217/


https://www.piloteers.org/threads/19...-lemon.161579/

50 pages of infotainment complaints on the Passport:

https://www.passportforums.com/threa...ms-thread.869/


Agree with Jon, I prefer the simpler stuff, like HVAC controls that are a simple knob. I don't need separate temperature for driver, passenger, second row, etc. Climate control in particular has gotten too fancy. less reliable, and harder to use.

Right now, I think I'll get my 11 year old F150 and my wife's 11 year old Element detailed......
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Old 04-02-2021, 10:35 AM   #4
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I've heard the latest version in the 2021 Accord and Civic is much, much better. I think they're listening, though it will take a while before all their models benefit. Won't help the OP shopping used.

I can barely turn on the radio in my wife's fancy-shmancy RAV4, and it's considered one of the better ones. As far as I'm concerned, touch screen interfaces are as bad as phones while driving, sometimes worse. But I enjoy driving, and my wife would rather navigate, so at least when we're traveling together, I never have to touch the d---d thing!

For my wife's latest vehicle, we took the CR-V off our short list for a number of reasons, infotainment among them (the small displacement turbo-4 and CVT were the bigger ones). Love our 2006 CR-V SE, 210K and going strong! Sadly, not for towing the Scamp.
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Old 04-02-2021, 03:05 PM   #5
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Name: Jesse
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Jon and Thrifty Bill, thank you for your replies! It helps me a lot, I did test drive a new Honda Pilot Touring and that was the one I got giddy about. The 2018 I test drove, I did not like it at all (weird subtle engine noise and not enough power at initial acceleration).

I liked the used Highlander (2017) better than the 2021 I test drove. The newer one made a weird wind noise on the highway and felt puffy and much larger than the older model.

I am looking for certified used for both of them and will see what is out there. In looking at the specs for Pilot vs Highlander, the Pilot has a single camshaft and the Highlander a dual. In reading it sounds like dual is better in terms of towing, but perhaps it doesn't really matter that much - if I do end up liking the Pilot better.
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Old 04-03-2021, 12:36 PM   #6
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I wouldn't focus too much on camshaft count. It makes a difference, but it's just one factor among many to accomplish power and efficiency goals.

The Highlander and Pilot motors are overall really, really similar. They take slightly different paths to get there, but the power, reliability, and efficiency ends up being almost identical between them.
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Old 04-03-2021, 02:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Defenestrator View Post
I wouldn't focus too much on camshaft count. It makes a difference, but it's just one factor among many to accomplish power and efficiency goals.

The Highlander and Pilot motors are overall really, really similar. They take slightly different paths to get there, but the power, reliability, and efficiency ends up being almost identical between them.
This is great to read, I am going to keep my eye open for a good deal!
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Old 04-10-2021, 10:33 AM   #8
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I would not buy certified used I would buy Car Max. I had a friend buy a Certified used toyota and brought it to a mechanic and found it had the front end replaced. When he complained to Toyota they said it had been repaired to their standards and too bad. Car Max only pics the cream puffs to resell and auctions off the rest to other dealers.
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Old 04-10-2021, 10:47 AM   #9
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Jesse,
We have a 2011 Honda Pilot, and tow a 2015 Escape 17. We love it. It does fine for the two of us.
Plusses: 2009-2011 Pilots came with the tow package, which is: factory receiver, pre-wiring that's plug-n-play for lights and electric brakes (you just add a controller, a couple of relays and fuses, and a 7-pin plug at the rear), heavy duty alternator and radiator, and transmission cooler.
Sufficient power: V6, 3.5L, 250 HP and about 250 ft.lb. torque.
Minuses: 5-speed auto. trans, and can't lock out of 5th, so it hunts at 55 mph, the CA tow speed limit. (at 62 mph on flat and level, it locks in, so We tow at 63mph).


If you're towing an Escape 19, and travel the mountain West, I think you will be at capacity frequently; and unhappy.


Big issue. The Gross Combined Weight Rating is 8466 lbs., so we can have 3 people and their gear, plus our trailer loaded for camping, but if we add a 4th person, we exceed the GCWR. So, check your numbers!
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Tow: 2011 Honda Pilot
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Old 04-10-2021, 11:43 AM   #10
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Name: Brad
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Advice

We purchased a 2019 pilot and added the towing package. Several things to think about. Buying an older pilot will only give you a 3500 towing capacity. Where the newer is 5000lbs.We test drove the Highlander also. The ride difference between Pilot and Highlander is night and day. We have the six speed transmission. Another reason we decided on a pilot. The 9 speed at the time was a newer invention and we did not like how it shifted. I doubt very much you will be able to carry 6 people and tow a 17 or 19 trailer. That all being said I would buy a truck for towing. It will make your life a lot easier.
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Old 04-10-2021, 12:23 PM   #11
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We went through the same decisions last year, ended up with a 2016 Pilot, the first year with the emergency braking etc. which was top of my list. Highlander didn't start until later. One word of caution, we went with the mid tier as the Touring only comes with a transmission which has caused worlds of grief to some, the base and mid tier have the same 5 speed (with tow mode override) as the Ridgeline and has been rock solid forever. The difference between 3500 or 5000 lbs is just the addition of a cooler, which we haven't bothered with as we only tow a 13' Trillium. Tows like a dream and we've been very happy. Good luck!
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Old 04-10-2021, 12:29 PM   #12
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Name: Jesse
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These are all great comments and helpful! I think we are leaning towards the Atlas because it is less expensive, has tons of space, seats fold flat, and already comes with the towing installed. Most of the used highlander and pilots I've seen don't have the hitch/towing package, and that is an extra cost and then it is something that needs to be done to it.
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Old 04-10-2021, 02:10 PM   #13
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Name: Hogndogz
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2020 Ridgeline/Pilot

We are towing our 17b with a 2020 Honda Ridgeline, which is a truck version of the Pilot. Our 17b is heavily optioned, 3000#+. The Ridgeline does fine towing. I have not experienced any transmission issues with the 9 speed that others have complained about. We find the ride quality of the Honda very good. Also, we are getting 16-17mpg towing in the Blue Ridge mountains of SC,NC &VA.
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Old 04-10-2021, 03:09 PM   #14
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We are towing our 17b with a 2020 Honda Ridgeline, which is a truck version of the Pilot. Our 17b is heavily optioned, 3000#+. The Ridgeline does fine towing. I have not experienced any transmission issues with the 9 speed that others have complained about. We find the ride quality of the Honda very good. Also, we are getting 16-17mpg towing in the Blue Ridge mountains of SC,NC &VA.
Wow! What is the average mpg otherwise? The only thing I don't like about the Atlas is the mpg.
What I don't like about the Pilot is that it seems it is so rare to find a certified used with towing package, so that adds a significant cost to the used price. The new Pilot that we'd want (captain's chairs) costs about $10k more than a new atlas with similar features!
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Old 04-10-2021, 03:22 PM   #15
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Name: Hogndogz
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The Ridgeline is rated as 19/26 mpg. I have gotten as high as 30 mpg driving gently ...not towing. The Ridgeline comes with the tow package standard. Iím surprised that the Pilot doesnít. Have you considered the Ridgeline?
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Old 04-10-2021, 03:28 PM   #16
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The Ridgeline is rated as 19/26 mpg. I have gotten as high as 30 mpg driving gently ...not towing. The Ridgeline comes with the tow package standard. Iím surprised that the Pilot doesnít. Have you considered the Ridgeline?
I will look it up, we need/want the 3 rows. That mpg seems consistent with Pilot and Highlander. I wish the VW had better mpg, but alas. We got a quote for a new one that has the panoramic moon roof, captain's chairs, and tow package for around 37k, I think to get captain's in Honda new would end up being $46k, unless they do aggressive pricing too. I think Pilots and Highlanders probably go quicker, not sure.
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Old 04-10-2021, 04:59 PM   #17
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Name: Brenda
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Just a thought - I have a 17B that I originally towed with a Nissan Xterra - no problems. I then bought a Kia Sorento, which pulled the trailer great! The problem was ground clearance. When the Kia and trailer were hooked up, the hitch was only a couple of inches off the ground, which wasnít optimal. I bought a Toyota 4Runner in September and Iím hoping that will improve things. Something you may want to consider, especially if youíll be towing off-highway.
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Old 04-10-2021, 06:01 PM   #18
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Name: Jesse
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Originally Posted by Brenda in Alberta View Post
Just a thought - I have a 17B that I originally towed with a Nissan Xterra - no problems. I then bought a Kia Sorento, which pulled the trailer great! The problem was ground clearance. When the Kia and trailer were hooked up, the hitch was only a couple of inches off the ground, which wasnít optimal. I bought a Toyota 4Runner in September and Iím hoping that will improve things. Something you may want to consider, especially if youíll be towing off-highway.
Thanks for that suggestion. Was it low to the ground because of the ground clearance or because of how the hitch was installed in the Kia?
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Old 04-10-2021, 06:24 PM   #19
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Name: Ed
Trailer: Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe
Washington
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We tow our Casita 17SD with a 2018 Honda Ridgeline RTLE and love it. This one has the 6 speed tranny and all the safety features. Roomy, reliable and comfortable. I would recommend giving the Ridgeline a look. It has longer wheel base than the Pilot, which gives it a better ride while towing than the Pilot.

Previous to the Ridgeline, we towed with a 2010 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner and the Ridgeline tows more comfortably because of the rear suspension. Honda has improved the V6 by making it direct injection so it is more responsive than the Toyota V6.

Hope this helps you in your search.
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Old 04-10-2021, 07:19 PM   #20
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Name: Jesse
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Originally Posted by Casita Ed View Post
We tow our Casita 17SD with a 2018 Honda Ridgeline RTLE and love it. This one has the 6 speed tranny and all the safety features. Roomy, reliable and comfortable. I would recommend giving the Ridgeline a look. It has longer wheel base than the Pilot, which gives it a better ride while towing than the Pilot.

Previous to the Ridgeline, we towed with a 2010 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner and the Ridgeline tows more comfortably because of the rear suspension. Honda has improved the V6 by making it direct injection so it is more responsive than the Toyota V6.

Hope this helps you in your search.
That is helpful. I didn't think about the wheelbase. Would it make a difference that the Atlas has 117 wheelbase and the Pilot 111? It is down to those two. With the Atlas in the lead because of cost. As I like them both and like the design of the VW a lot.
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