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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Highlander deserves to lose in sales (even with the new I4 engine offering) due to its lousy and cheap 3rd row seat. Just my opinion. ;)
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    I agree with all your assessments concerning the Pilot: in the end, it's a solid package that has a lot of good features. Honda did a good job packaging all the little features that people want right out of the box, even though the Pilot looks like that box. When it first came out, I would have bet that it wouldn't sell all that well since there was so many new, sleek CUVs, but man was I wrong. Functionality still sells, so it was a good move on Honda's part.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,000
    The poor tire choices Toyota is putting on the Highlander and Venza shows they are becoming the new GM. I don't think Toyota has the customer focus that Honda does.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    My wife and I really wanted to like the Highlander--nice acceleration, comfortable, not too big and bulky--but there were many little negatives that made you scratch your head: no split seats on the 3rd row, no memory seats, the Limited had really fake-looking wood (which is why I would have picked the Sports model), the steering felt really light (reminded me of my dad's 1981 Malibu that you could steer with your pinky), and worse of all the dealers around us were locking us into really expensive packages. And there were signs where they cheapened out, like that felt headliner that looks like it was already pilling...

    They say that as a company gets bigger, it gets more expensive to run...I guess Toyota has to make cuts somewhere, and unfortunately it's showing in their vehicles.
  • lithnightslithnights Posts: 25
    Agree about the importance of the split 3rd row. That is what sold me on the Pilot over the Highlander. We've had our 2008 for two months now and have already utilized the split 3rd row multiple times.

    We've had someone sit in the 3rd row and still be able to fold down part of it for groceries or a stroller. Also, it's especially cool for the kids (nieces, nephews for kids in the future) to climb in through the lift, and climb into the split 3rd row since I have two car seats in the 2nd row. With the Highlander, that would be difficult to say the least.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Pilot: 8171
    Highlander: 6885 (inc. Hybrid and I4 version)
    CX9: 1568
  • carmamacarmama Posts: 3
    We recently purchased a Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring with moonroof and navigation after looking at/ test driving the following vehicles:

    Minivans: Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Toyota Sienna, Mazda 5
    SUV/ CUVs: Mazda CX-9, Ford Flex, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Honda Pilot, Saturn Outlook/ GMC Acadia, Lexus RX400h/ RX450h

    The CX-9 was the best fit for our family of 2 adults + 2.3 kids (3 year old, 2 month old, and 11 year old stepdaughter who lives with us in the summer). Passenger space and interior appearance are more important to us than towing or cargo capacity as we don't drive our own vehicles more than 600 miles from home. We fly and/or rent a vehicle for longer trips. We plan to have one or two more kids before we get another new car in eight to ten years, so seating for 6 to 7 was necessary. This eliminated the Lexus RX hybrids which I really liked otherwise.

    My husband is 6'-4" with long legs and the kids are taking after him, so legroom in all 3 rows is critical. He could not get comfortable in the driver's seat in the Mazda 5, Kia Sedona, or Ford Flex. I was surprised by the Flex, because the listed front legroom is similar to other vehicles that he liked. Sitting behind the driver, my 3 year old can kick the back of an all-the-way back driver's seat in every other vehicle we tried, but she had at least 8 inches to spare in Flex. If Ford had given the driver's seat a little more travel, the Flex would have been a stronger competitor.

    The Toyotas were overpriced compared to the other vehicles, and the dealers weren’t being flexible on price. So, we test drove an Outlook, an Odyssey, a Pilot and the CX-9. The best price we were quoted for an Odyssey EX-L RES/Nav was about $500 more than the best price we were quoted for the CX-9. The pricing on the Pilot, Outlook and Acadia was $3,000 to $5,000 more than the CX-9 for comparably equipped vehicles. Access to the 3rd row was easier in the CX-9 than in the Odyssey when all three seats in the middle row were in place. We thought the CX-9 interior was looked nicer than the Odyssey and Outlook, and the exterior looked nicer than the Pilot. With regard to the driving experience, the CX-9 drove much smaller than the Outlook (and I assume the Acadia). The CX-9 drove more like a car while the Pilot drove more like a truck. The acceleration and braking felt slightly more responsive in the CX-9 than in the Odyssey, but otherwise the ride was similar. In the end, we made the decision based on the vehicle that was the best value for our needs. Hopefully, our shopping experience will help others with their decision. I spent a lot of time reading these forums before we were ready to actually start vehicle shopping in person and found the information shared in them very helpful.
  • berriberri Posts: 4,000
    If Ford had given the driver's seat a little more travel, the Flex would have been a stronger competitor.

    I'm tall and also find that a frequent problem with Ford models. In fact, sometimes I wonder if they Ford family and their management team are all short people? Generally, GM seems to have better 6 footer accomodations, but not always. The problem with a lot of the Asian vehicles is short seat bottoms and backs which doesn't show up on your body until you've drive several hours so its hard to figure out on a test drive.
  • Hey carmama,
    Great review. Extremely helpful!
  • Has anyone driven the Mercedes R class CUV? You can get a used 2007 with about 15K miles for the same price as a new CX-9. It's a 6-7 passenger vehicle. I now own a 2004 Sienna and it's time to get something new. I have mixed feelings about my Sienna now with 65K miles. I won't buy another. The interior has many design problems which annoy me.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Has anyone driven the Mercedes R class CUV? You can get a used 2007 with about 15K miles for the same price as a new CX-9

    First off, finding a 2-3 year old family vehicle with only 15K on it is extremely tough. Second, a 2007 M-B will have extreme quality and reliability issues. Unless it is a CPO Mercedes-Benz, I would avoid it like the plague.
  • jcpharmjcpharm Posts: 92
    not only that, CPO will drive up the price to pay for the warranty.

    why an R-class? is interior comfort/luxury your most important priority? It has substantially less power (260hp for R350 and 210hp for R320), worse handling and only the R320 BlueTec gets better gas mileage (21mpg combined). I doubt it has more interior room than CX-9/Pilot/Highlander....and make sure it is not a rear-wheel drive R350 if you are in a snowy/wet area (R320s are all AWD i believe).
  • carmamacarmama Posts: 3
    I checked one out in the showroom about a year and a half ago, but did not test drive. It was a very comfortable vehicle and the R320 was intriguing. A new one was out of our price range by about $20K, so it never made the short list. I would be concerned about reliability on a used Mercedes unless you get a warranty that covers the entire period that you plan to own it. It will be much more expensive to fix than a Mazda, Honda, Toyota, GM, Ford, etc.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Anyone who had owned BMW/MB will tell you this...(and I did)
    unless your MB/BMW is covered under some sort of warranty (OE, CPO, EW, whatever), be prepared to budget money for expensive repairs and maintenance.

    Some folks will greatly tell you that, if you can't afford those expensive repairs (which actually happen quite often for German vehicles after 3-4 years), you are probably not "qualified" to own one. What I am saying is this.
    If you are thinking about owning a $50K German vehicles for long term, make sure that you can afford a $100K one financially. :(
    Otherwise, lease one (BMW covers all maintenance cost!) and return it at the end of lease. :)

    When I owned my BMW 540iA (1998-2007), I spent about $1000 average per year FIXING that bimmer. (after OE warranty expried)
    Brake pad/rotors per aisle costs about $1000 to replace, just so that you have a feeling of how much you are looking at. BTW, German use soft steel for rotors so that the pads and rotors HAVE TO be replaced simultaneously. ;)
  • I am the recent buyer of a 2009 AWD Touring. I am a researcher and I test drove the following cars, Honda Pilot (2nd choice but too noisy and poor handling), Highlander (Yawn and too expensive), GMC Acadia/Chevy Traverse (too expensive harsh transmission), Sante Fe (good value but too small, poor handling), Veracruz (too expensive, poor handling), Flex (styling too weird).
    I choose the AWD Touring as I needed 3500 lb towing capacity and I am not a big gadget fan so I didn't want the Grand Touring. Also the CX-9 had the best handling. After 16 years with a Suburban I needed something close to a car and the CX-9 fit the bill. Mazda has great incentives and the CX-9 is likely the best value in this lineup.
  • gks1969gks1969 Posts: 1
    Just have to say that we recently purchased a 2009 CX-9 and we have 2 kids ages 22 and 36 months. With the car seats latched in (two boosters with harness - Graco 3 in 1) there is access to the roomy 3rd row. Both sides of 2nd row 40/60 split slide all the way forward with the carseats latched. We are thrilled with the car so far.
  • Yes, a smooth, luxurious ride is now a top priority, My current 2004 Sienna is an AWD, which has a very harsh ride, especially when it had the run-flat tires. Now that I have regular tires, the ride is better, but not great. Now the car doesn't have a spare tire, so that will probably hurt me on trade-in. I have read in numerous places that many Sienna owners were dumping their run-flats and going with regular tires and keeping a air pump (car powered) and a can of fix-a-flat in their storage drawer. That's what I've done for the past few years, with no ill effects.

    I've very leery of the CX-9 with the 20 inch tires and it's "firm" ride. But I need features like powered rear liftgate, auto on-off headlights and other creature comforts that the Sienna has.

    You're right, I just checked Consumers reports and the R-Class has a bad reliability record. But I did find a 2007 with 15K miles for the low $30K area, but it is not a CPO, so that is a red flag. Maybe the 2010 CX-9 will have more options in the models w/o the 20 in. tires?
  • jcpharmjcpharm Posts: 92
    Other possibilities to consider then:
    1) Used Acura MDX (more luxurious and responsive ride and hopefully can get CPO)
    2) New 2010 CX-9 Touring loaded with options you might like (although Nav might only be available in GT as an option but you will get the "softer" 18" wheels)
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I am sure your dealer will be more happy to swap out your 20" wheels with 18".
    People pay $$$ to go vice versa.
    CX9 GT has the features you listed: power-liftgate, auto-on/off headlight.
    What other creature comfort that your Sienna has that CX9 GT does not?
  • That's an excellent idea of swapping the tires if the ride is overly harsh. I guess the features I need are all in the GT. And probably some I don't want. I need heated seats, power seats, auto headlights, power liftgate, good storage for CD's, AWD, roof rack, two power receptacles in dashboard, good AM radio reception and some decent power to the stereo. (Sienna stinks in the area of AM radio and music amp power), and perhaps a sunglasses holder that can actually hold a pair of sunglasses, and a gas gauge warning light that gives you warning well before you only have 10 miles left in the tank. I could go on about my Sienna, but my blood pressure is rising now.

    I don't want blue dashboard instrument lighting (have it now on my Sienna-dislike), no NAV system(got my own that I'll plop on the dash for the few times I need it), no LCD display on stereo (hard to read in daylight and can't read with polarized sunglasses-Sienna stinks again), no run-flat tires (really stinks, grrr!)

    Thanks for everyone's replies thus far.
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