By my numbers, the HIghlander hybrid easily has the lowest total cost of ownership, especially when factoring in historical depreciation. If you have any towing needs, the conventional engine has a higher tow rating, but otherwise, the hybrid looks really compelling. The main issue is availability, but you have time to reserve one and hopefully get it for MSRP if you find the right dealer.
However, the Highlander has the smallest 3rd row of any of those.
The Kia Telluride has been rated as top in its class for multiple years in a row by multiple car sites based on power, handling, and having a lot of features relative to its MSRP. The last point is moot, however, because no one is selling it for MSRP. After contacting numerous dealerships, I think the lowest offer we got for the trim we were interested in was $5,000 over MSRP, and they had no qualms watching us walk away when we said we would not go that high. Another dealer effectively called us liars when we said we could get one for only $5,000 over MSRP.
I tend to favor Hondas, but the current Pilot didn't inspire me. It felt roomy inside, but not always in useful places - adjusting the rearview mirror actually was an awkward reach for me despite being above average height - while seating and cargo space was mid-pack. Hopefully the updated transmission in the current generation does away with the reliability issues some of the earlier years were reported to have had. If I remember right, the handling was a bit soft, which could be good if you like a plush ride, but it wasn't my favorite. I still say give it a test drive and make your own opinion. Maybe the comfy seats will win you over.
We ended up going with the Subaru Ascent. Due an issue with our current car, we couldn't wait long enough for a Highlander hybrid, and my wife was certain we will want a decent 3rd row as our kids grow up. I actually somewhat liked the way it drove, where as every previous Subaru I have driven is best described as boring. Ground clearance is great, the same on our Outback has actually been an asset on some of the worse forest roads we drive up for hiking, and helps on the rare occasions we get deep snow. I still think that Subaru's AWD system works better than most or perhaps all other crossovers, which I view as a nice to have in the snow, but my wife is less comfortable on snow and puts more value in it. Plus, Subaru happened to run a promotion, which is rare in the current market, so we actually got it below MSRP.
I will say, though, it is imperative that I not look back at my spreadsheet now that we bought, because even with the Ascent having the lowest out-the-door-price of the models we looked at, I hate being reminded of how much more we are going to pay in the long run with the Highlander Hybrid.
BernardShakey wrote: ↑Thu Feb 16, 2023 8:44 pm
I would only buy the 3-row SUV if you absolutely don't want a minivan and definitely have a frequent need for three rows.
Personally, I strongly agree, but I was overruled by the person who actually does most of the driving with the family, and potentially friends. I felt like I couldn't reason with her on this, but I refrained from sharing my estimate that insisting on the third row, which is going to spend 99% of the time empty, was basically a decision to delay our eventual retirement by several months, mainly to benefit the friends whose kids we might drive around, and to avoid addressing our tendency to overpack for vacations.
Also, last weekend I washed both the Ascent for the first time, and the Outback to get it ready to sell, and wasn't really prepared for how much more surface area there was to wash on the Ascent.