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Seats were shaped weird in the Highlander. The flashing "eco" light was distracting.
The dash info was cluttered. Lane departure was a joke.
I found the pilot and the Ascent to have the nicest information layouts of the ones we are looking at.
The Pilot, for us is the top choice.
I wanted out of the highlander within 4 miles of test driving.
 

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highlander had less room inside especially in the 3rd row. that alone was enough for me to remove it from contention--same with the cx9. both are good cars, but if space is main concern, pilot wins there. this of course is just one of possible other things
 

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Check the link that Gordo posted, goes into pretty good detail.

They aren't competitors, the Pilot competes with the adult usable 3 rows while the Highlander competes with the kids only 3 rows.
 

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Look what peoples thoughts are on the 2019 Pilot vs the 2019 Highlander

I looked at the highlander, Ascent, and Pilot before ultimately choosing the Pilot. The highlander is no doubt a great car and I actually prefer the exterior look of it more as well as the front to back panoramic moon roof. My decision came down to mostly size as the pilot is much more roomier overall (while offering very similar MPG) and cargo space behind the Highlander is VERY small. Other wins for the Honda included a true 360 degree heated steering wheel as both the the Highlander/Ascent only heat the sides, built in RES, much nicer infotainment screen, Apple Car Play, 0.9% financing, a much better AWD system (do research), tried and true V6 engine they've had out for years, and remote start built into the factory key fob. I've had nothing but great luck with every Honda product I've ever owned, cars, lawnmowers, motorcycles, etc.. so I felt more comfortable staying with the brand.
 
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