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2013 Toyota Highlander or 2013 Honda Pilot? They seem similar – does one have an advantage over the other? My wife and I look after our four grandkids while our daughter and her husband are at work and we need the extra row. We want all-wheel drive for winter. I’m paying with cash and would prefer not to pay much more than $30,000. My wife would like something less boring, like a Lexus RX, but it’s too expensive and has no extra row. – Akram, Ottawa

Was the 2013 Highlander dull? Well, when Toyota was promoting its replacement in 2014, it had the Muppets sing that it “ain’t got no room for boring.”

So, yeah, both the 2013 Pilot and Highlander were a little dull – but practical. They stuck around so long for a reason.

Consumer Reports and J.D. Power said the Toyota beat the Honda when it came to used car reliability. For 2013, the Highlander was better than most and the Pilot was about average overall, according to J.D. Power’s dependability study.

The Nissan Pathfinder and the Hyundai Santa Fe XL, both all-new for 2013, were even less reliable.

Other options: The Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9.

2013 Toyota Highlander AWD base

Toyota

Second generation: 2008-2013, refresh in 2010

Average price for base: $29,409 (Canadian Black Book)

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6

Transmission/Drive: six-speed automatic/ all-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.2 city; 10.3 highway

If your friends and family are underwhelmed by your roomy, practical Highlander, wow them with its Australian and Japanese name – the Toyota Kluger. If that doesn’t work, tell them Consumer Reports gives the Camry-based SUV its highest rating for used car reliability.

The Highlander has “long been an excellent choice, a tad roomier and less costly than its Lexus RX sibling,” the magazine said. “Quiet, roomy, and relaxing to drive, the Highlander has always had a smooth powertrain, comfortable ride, and easy-to-use controls.”

There was also a 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive version (with an average used price of $25,509) and a V-6 Hybrid with CVT ($32,264).

There were two trims for 2013: base and Limited, plus a leather package and a sport package. The AWD V-6 comes standard with back-up camera and a power tailgate.

For the swanky Limited, you may need to look at 2012, or earlier, to get it for less than $30,000.

“While the Highlander’s third row is less spacious than that of some rivals, it’s easy to reach thanks to a nifty 40/20/40-split second row with a removable centre seat that facilitates walk-through access,” Edmunds said.

If you’re looking for more room, Edmunds recommended GM’s trio of crossovers.

By 2013, the Highlander was getting long in the tooth – and was boxy compared to newer rivals.

“But for many shoppers, the Highlander’s versatility and friendly disposition make it an ideal choice,” Edmunds said.

In Canada, there was one recall to fix second row seats that may not firmly lock in their tracks.

2013 Honda Pilot LX 4WD

Honda

Second generation: 2009-2015, refresh in 2012

Average price for base: $27,069 (Canadian Black Book)

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6

Transmission/Drive: six-speed automatic/ all-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.8 city; 9.7 highway

When Honda introduced the second generation of its popular-but-bland Pilot in 2009, it was bigger, better – and uglier.

A 2012 facelift helped, but it’s still big and boxy – and that has advantages.

“The crossover’s boxy sheet metal isn’t likely to set many (or any) hearts aflame, but the high roof line means backseaters have plenty of headroom,” Edmunds said. “Short of a minivan, there aren’t many utility vehicles that can easily swallow as much cargo and people as the 2013 Pilot.”

Consumer Reports said the 2013 Pilot had average used car reliability.

“The interior isn’t as well finished as those in some competitors, and braking and handling aren’t terrific,” the magazine said.

The Pilot has four trims – the base LX (which also comes in fount-wheel drive), EX, EX-L and Touring.

The LX has a rear-view camera. For leather and heated seats, you’ll need to go to EX-L ($32,360).

In the end, it might come down to what you like best – if you like Hondas, you’ll probably like the Pilot.

“One need look no further than to the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe or 2013 Nissan Pathfinder to find markedly more appealing interior treatments,” Edmunds said. “Overall, though, the formidable blend of utility and efficiency – not to mention Honda’s top-notch reliability reputation – virtually demand that buyers take a look at what the 2013 Honda Pilot brings to the party.”

There was one recall to fix the driver’s airbag cover.

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