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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander

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  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I hope that the NAVI upgrade of '09 can be had with future NAVI disk upgrade.
    I am using a ScanGaugeII in place of the trip computer, which is missing on 07/08 CX9.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    The trip computer has been well reported but where did you get info about iPod integration? It's not in the Mazda press release and the local dealers I spoke with all said there was no change to allow true iPod integration for '09. The Mazda6 system sounds promising so that would be a welcome upgrade. Do you have a link to any details on this for the CX-9?
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I was one of the two, but I didn't have a functional problem with the Bluetooth -- I had questions about its capacities and how to use it, which I've since answered. It actually has been working fantastically -- one of my favorite new features. We have paired three phones so far, the two I carry and my wife's. It flawlessly prioritizes my main calling phone if all are in the car but seamlessly uses the others if it is not. We have never had to re-pair, never had to reset it, it just works. And we haven't had any failed calls or initial sound cut-offs of the beginning of calls (a problem I was reading about in the CX-9 forum). There was another poster who said they were having a specific problem with their LG Chocolate, but that's one person with one phone. I wouldn't draw any conclusions from that.

    I just re-read the entire Pilot 2009 thread from the point in June when real users/owners were posting (versus the many pages before it actually was in the wild). I would say the only issues reported by multiple people so far has been the exterior noise, probably from the tires, and some rattling from various parts, such as the optional cross bars. I think there is some legitimacy to this. I hear some exterior noise if I don’t have the radio on and it does sound like the tires to me. And I have had some minor rattles when I hit rough road, though I haven’t isolated if they are car parts or content yet (there are so many storage spaces with loose items and car seat tethers, etc.).

    I’m sure the Pilot’s electronics won’t be perfect, certainly not in every car (and the same could be said of any car), but it doesn’t sound like there is evidence of systemic issues yet either…
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    In the interest of closure from the back-and-forth I’ve done on this thread about the three cars as we weighed our decision, I will say the more I test drove and examined each vehicle the less I liked the Highlander. If I could have gotten the Hybrid for some reasonable premium over the non-Hybrid (as in 10% instead of 33%) I probably still would have because of the MPG advantage, but it wasn’t worth paying $15K+ more than I got the Pilot for or could have gotten the CX-9 for, especially when I liked those cars more but for the mileage advantage.

    I test drove the Highlander more than any of the others too. I kept coming back to it as our default since my wife loves her Sienna (and loved the Lexus RX300 before that) and liked the familiarity of the Highlander seating, drive and controls, not to mention reliability and the convenience of a nearby dealer. So I really wanted to like it. I suspect the problem in the end is that while the Highlander on paper is in a similar class as the Pilot and CX-9 it must really be aimed at a different group, for whom the third row seat is a cute extra for very occasional use. It’s designed for a family with two kids or less who usually will be hauling not more than 4 people and only need the convertible third row on rare, select occasions. For us with three kids and car seats, plus frequent guests in the car and the design to travel with all of them and luggage on road trips, the Highlander makes no sense. My default configuration on the Pilot already includes having the 40 of the 60/40 split in seat configuration and the 60 in cargo configuration. That’s not even possible with the Highlander. And there is a substantial difference in comfort and capacity in the thid row seating between the Highlander and most of the competition. I could not comfortably fit in the Highlander third row even on short trips but I can in the Pilot (and could have in the CX-9). This seat will have grandparents in it. The Highlander can’t handle that.

    But what bugged me almost as much as the third row was the lack of a real 3-seat second row. Again, this must appeal to a certain market, just not us. If you want a pass-through, seriously, get the mini-van; it will get comparable or better MPG and have more cargo capacity and much more flexibility and ease of access. We already have one for all these reasons. The optional middle seat for the Highlander just isn’t a full seat. You can’t fit most combos of three car seats across the way you can with the others, and you definitely can’t have an adult sit there comfortably – we tried. So it is really a 6.5 seat vehicle, with only 4 real seats. I consider all 8 of the Pilot seats “real” by comparison, and I am 6’1”.

    (I ended up seriously reconsidering the Acura again with the deals so good on the ‘08’s (really, it could be had for $5K more than the Pilot), but it was similarly the seating that kept us away. Like the Highlander, it really only has 6.5 seats of which only 4 can handle adults.)

    The seating was the driving factor but after that the little things bothered me about the Highlander. The lack of memory seats on a Limited with a $40K MSRP should be criminal. By comparison the pilot not only has memory seats, but ties it to the side mirrors and a variety of user controls including dash display, lighting and door locking options that can vary by user (it would have been nice to control the radio and climate like some luxury brands do but alas…). I also was really bothered by the rear view visibility in the Highlander. If you put the RES screen down, combined with the rear headrests they create a perfect storm that cuts rear visibility to almost zero. Really poor design. The gimmicky pop-out/GBA version of the CX-9’s RES had this problem too, but neither the Pilot or the CX-9’s conventional RES did – they sat higher in the visibility and only slightly obstructed the view. The loose-y steering (it really drives identically to our Sienna, so been there done that), NAV motion lock-out and lack of iPod integration rounded out my main gripes. These aren’t deal breaker by themselves but it was just hard to get excited about the perks of the car without them. The nav would have been mostly useless whereas we are using it even when we don’t have to in the Pilot just because its so fun (I’m sure that will wear off).

    The CX-9 versus the Pilot was a much closer call for us – styling and ride (CX-9) versus features, space, deal and confidence in the dealer. Honestly it could have gone either way. We ended up competitively quoting on all three from all kinds of dealers within a 50 minute radius. If the CX-9 dealers had been as aggressive as the Honda ones around here, who knows. Both are great cars. With the CX-9 my “excitement factor” would have been the drive itself. With the Honda it’s the built-in toys. If they fix the cabin tech for the ’09 CX-9 it may be my favorite…

    Anyway, that was our decision process. All are great vehicles and I can certainly see why each would be the choice for different drivers. I don’t expect to become one of those cheerleaders who can only defend and pitch my car in these comparisons. Good luck for those who haven’t settled or closed a deal yet…
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    I hear that the trip computer for the 2009 CX-9 is not backward compatible with the 2008 (or 2007 for that matter). So I can't go to the dealer and ask for a software flash, which kinda sucks.

    It should have been in the car in the first place, especially since this is essentially Mazda's flagship vehicle.

    I guess I shouldn't complain too much, though, since the Acadia didn't even have bluetooth until the upcoming 2009 model. Now that's a huge oversight...
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    When I asked, in pasisng (not remotely expecting the answer could be no) about the Bluetooth functionallity when I was testing the Enclave (Buick's version of the Arcadia) and was told it wasn't even an option, I seriously ended the test immediately after that. I told the dealer that I couldn't see myself getting any car without it (and am not interested in some third party after-market solution), let alone considering a car where the manufacture didn't see it as an essentail feature by 2008. He said it was being added fas an option or '09 but honestly it gave me a bad vibe about GMC. It I had loved the vehicle in every other regard I might have waited for the '09 but I didn't so I didn't...
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I don't have any documentation. I was told that by a Mazda rep who came to educate us on the 09 Mazda6. Most of which was concentrated on tech features. According to Mazda, they really improved on the points where customers complained about the "user friendliness" and sophistication of the tech features. According to her, we should see these up grades in the CX-9.

    BTW, it really does seem that Mazda has listened. The Mazda6 tech features are much much better then the CX-9. By a long shot. I do believe that the full iPod integration will now show your play lists on the display screen, from what I understand.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    That would be really great if they do more than just add a trip computer and fully integrate iPod and voice controls of audio, etc. into the CX-9 both because it would improve one of its few weaknesss and as you say demonstrate Mazda's commitment to meeting its consumers expectations. Toyota by contrast usually makes a great, reliable vehicle but always leaves important things out (sometimes on purpose I think) and is slow to address them. With memory seats, for example, I have noticed they always leave this out of new models for a few years then add them. I had the same problem with my Sienna. No memory seats on the limited, but they added them two years later. That wans't an oversight, it was a strategy for gradual release of "enhancements" over the previous model year.

    Now if Mazda along with the AV enhancements could un-restrict the nav while driving and do like Honda/Acura with a user opt-in release of liability it would truly be the best in class in my opinion...
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    I don't know why manufacturers still play the game of introducing important features a few years down the road (like memory seats, or even full power passenger seats). I know that they want to make the product interesting for many years, but in essence they are screwing the initial customers who buy the car. Unless they honestly believe that people who bought first year models will trade in 2-3 years down the line to get the upgraded features.

    Oversights like that are part of the reasons we didn't buy the Highlander (no split 3rd row) or the Acadia (no bluetooth).
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    I don't know why manufacturers still play the game of introducing important features a few years down the road (like memory seats, or even full power passenger seats).

    The dilemma for manufacturers is figuring out how to balance the individual needs/wants of consumers with building an economically-feasible, mass-produced product.

    It is a very difficult "game" to play, as you'll inevitably disappoint those whose "must-have" features didn't make the cut.

    For me, the Highlander hits most of my gadget wish-list: Bluetooth, power rear door, rear backup camera that's not dependent on Navigation, and Smart Key. I don't need memory seats and the 3rd row will remain stowed most of the time anyway, so I'm not too bothered by it not being split.

    The more I see the CX-9 on the road, the more I like the way it looks. However, it's just too long (the extra 10 inches makes a difference), and I'm not as confident about reliability and resale as I am with the Highlander (which may be more perception than reality).
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I don't buy that excuse with Toyota. We're talking about a "Limited" with an MSRP over $40K. The whole point of the Limited's is to have a trim where people can get all the luxury options. The CUV class is crowded and yet every single other LImited (or Touring or equivilent) in the class has the memory seat option except the Highlander. And its not about economics either. Toyota uses the same seats in other models and they have memory seats and I know from my Sienna experience they will release a memory seat in a future year of the Highlander. They are 100% doing this to have a feature differentiator from year-to-year. That's cynical and not very loyal to the customer.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    I don't buy that excuse with Toyota. We're talking about a "Limited" with an MSRP over $40K.

    It's not an excuse. It's a simple rule of developing a mass-produced product.

    I'm not arguing that it's not a deal-breaker for you. Memory seats are a requirement for you. The Highlander doesn't offer it. I'm guessing Toyota is betting there are more people like me who don't see it as a deal-breaker than there are folks like you who'll cross the Highlander off their shopping list.

    If they guess wrong, then sales will suffer. If sales suffer, then it's likely those features contributing to the shortfall will be added in the future (if feasible). I hardly see that as "cynicism."

    All manufacturers do this. They have to. You can't build a vehicle that has 100% of all the features that every person would want to have. It's impossible. We're all different.

    GM is adding Bluetooth to its vehicles for 2009 after years of exclusively offering OnStar as a substitute. Why? Because I'm sure they found that they lost enough sales due to the lack of Bluetooth to make it worthwhile to rethink their strategy.

    Similarly, Mazda is adding a trip computer to the CX-9. Why? It's probably come up as an omission that's impacted sales.

    Toyota guessed that they could eliminate the 4-cylinder model for the '08 redesign. Obviously that hurt sales. So what comes out in 2009? An entry-level 4-cylinder model.

    I just don't see this huge "Toyota conspiracy." Like any other manufacturer, they have to find the right mix of features at the right price that meets as many needs as possible. No matter what mix of features a manufacture chooses, they can't and won't please everyone.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I disagree. You keep arguing that they had to make economic trade-offs and my point is I don't think that had anything to do with it. If you're logic were true, then a few other things would also be true: 1) That they made the exact same decision with virtually every other vehicle in its first 2-3 model years and in case-after-case the "market demanded they add it." If that were true, then they look pretty dumb for not eventually getting a clue that there is a pattern. This is their SOP with first year Limited's. They did the same with the Camry, the Sienna, the Sequoia, etc. And in case-after-case, gee surprise, memory seats show up as a new model year differentiator in the 3rd or 4th year. Consistently. I’ve had this conversation with several Toyota dealers and they all take it as a given too that this is simply Toyota’s way of holding back something to add to the model later, as part of their plan from the start. 2) That despite over a dozen models in the CUV class, Toyota alone believes the memory seat is not an important feature for their Limited customers. To your example, GMC was alone in leaving out Bluetooth and now is having to correct it. Generally if everyone is providing the feature except one, it’s pretty rare the one is right where everyone else is wrong. At least GMC had a reason for leaving out the Bluetooth – loyalty to their internal product offering. It’s not likely that Toyota simply misjudged the marketplace on this – they know they have gotten dinged on lack of memory seats again and again in comparative reviews, etc. This was simply about release timing. 3) If it were about saving money there would have to be real savings for them. But they use basically the same seat with very minor tweaking on multiple vehicles, like the Sienna, and they have memory seats for it already. And since they can market it as an option, it actually can be profitable since options carry a better margin than the car itself in most cases.

    I wager any amount of money that memory seats show up on the Highlander Limited within 2 years – it would have been sooner but the scale back in the ’09 production may have slowed it. This won’t be Toyota “responding to the customer.” This will be Toyota executing the next step in a plan that has been on the drawing board for years.

    That is what is cynical about it.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    GM throws in the direct injection to their quadruplet (Acadia, Outlook, Enclave, and Traverse). All get a bump in horsepower, torque and MPG by 1 (both city/highway).

    Let us hope that Toyota, Honda, and Mazda (Ford) follow suit. Direct Injection is the technology that improve torque (therefore horsepower) of gas ICE by 5-10%. We will see DI as common as overhead cam today within 5 years.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    citivas,
    It looks like your wish just got granted.
    8-way power driver's seat is now available on Highlander 2009 model.
    Also available is the 4-cylinder (2.7L) engine with 2-row of seats.

    "The new engine will come standard on the Highlander grade two-wheel-drive model equipped with two rows of seats, contributing to its excellent value. A third row seat package will also be available for families requiring additional seating capacity. Other key optional equipment will include an eight-way power driver's seat, manual rear air conditioning, and an AM/FM/six-disc CD Changer with satellite radio capability, MP3/WMA capability and six speakers."
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Too late for me since I pulled the trigger, but it does just reinforce what I predicted. Toyota always does this. They weren't saving money, they always planned to add it and held it back just to be able to makret changes year-over-year...

    Any word on whether they fixed the third-row seat? That would truly make it more competitive.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    1st: Pilot: 11276 (some of them are probably older one - no way of knowing)
    2nd: Highlander: 8070 (1277 hybrids) = 6793 (excluding hybrids)
    3rd: CX-9: 3173
  • klamklam Posts: 2
    I would like to mention that the Pilot EX-L has a rear view backup camera without the need for Navi. The screen appears on the rear view mirror and takes up maybe 1/3 or less of it when it's on.

    For me that is better than looking down at your dash when viewing the camera while backing up.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    The same is true with the CX-9. All three are buying the same mirror from the same company and offer it as an accessory.
  • Interesting we were just talking about V4/I4's need, and 'yota folks are thinking along the same lines. Guess the gas prices rope'em in .. they shoulda had this 4-cyl mode from the very beginning of Highlander's model beginning.

    Folks seems to have posted Aug sales figures. Nice doing Pilot .. I bet Pilot's numbers are mostly due to incentive/rebate pricing more than its real-world MPG .. but gas prices are slowly settling down, mebbe its not as big a concern anymore .?

    Thoughts guys ..?
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