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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Great idea. After all, GM quadruplets sell as many units as the other three combined. How about
    "GM Lambda vs Honda Pilot vs Toyota Highlander vs CX-9"
    (Lambda=> Arcadia,Traverse,Outlook,Enclave"

    CUV includes many 5-seaters. This thread should focus on 7/8 seaters only. :)
  • First off, let me say I took better part of an hour yesterday reading throught his 41 page thread and I learned a lot. Citivas, I have to say a million thanks for all your input over time. It seems my vetting purchase for buying $30+ worth of sheet metal is the same as yours! Ive got a 3yr old and 6 month old and may have a 3rd in a few years.

    I initally wanted to lease, in the hopes of buying a more fuel efficient hybrid like CUV in a few years but I can't bank on that risk and I'd like to take advantage of the tax bennie this year.

    That said, my wife needs car and the Pilot was the top contender (after looking at all the others noted in this thread EXCEPT the CX9. We never even thought about the CX9 based on the 4/09 consumers reports, with reliability being a concern. My second concern with the CX9 is resale. But with the incentives available right now, 1.9%, its a huge consideration.

    What is now being said about their long term reliability of the CX9?

    Also, this is my only gripe, having read it on edmunds....
    "All I can say is in normal world use (not crashes), the Pilot brakes great. ... we don’t have issues with it not stopping quickly enough"

    How about stopping short? That is what is setting a fear of Honda in me. If she stops short, is that a problem? Has anyone with a Pilot noted ANY braking problems? I mean, in all consideration, that may be my dealbreaker on the Pilot.

    About cx9 vs pilot interior space, braking distances, How did you find the interior space of the CX9 compared to the Pilot? I've read Pilot has better use/more places to stash stuff but have also heard the cx9 is roomy.

    fitting 3 car seats across in the second row. the Pilot boasts this, but can the CX9 swing it?

    new consumers reports on resales- is there any new info on this that is different from the 4/09 issue?

    "In any event, I know we bought it because our prioritizes were safety first"

    That is my main and again, I am concerned with these braking distance reports.

    As I pulled into my office this morning, I saw a 10 Pilot across the street. I dont love the look either but I have to say, being a HUGE fan of the really retro Toyota FJ Cruiser (totally impractical for us), perhaps that is why I do like its look?

    So my biggest concerns are brakes and resale value Thoughts please? going to look at CX9 car tonight and the Pilot AGAIN.
  • jcpharmjcpharm Posts: 92
    i can't speak to the braking on the Pilot (leave that to others).

    with regards to:
    "fitting 3 car seats across in the second row. the Pilot boasts this, but can the CX9 swing it?"
    - no, you cannot put 3 LATCH-system carseats in the 2nd-row of the CX-9 (nor ANY LATCH carseats in the 3rd-row). you possibly could do two carseats and a booster (nonLATCH) in the middle, but not sure they would all fit.

    as far as roominess, you can look the specs up on each car to see the cubic feet, but ultimately you need to look at both cars and determine for yourself what feels roomiest to you. i hardly think that will be the deal breaker though...

    i do remember a long-distance road test review of the CX-9 from edmunds or car&driver noting that after ~40k miles they had no extra costs than regular maintenance....not sure you will get a report on much longer reliability testing than that considering the model has only been out since 2007.

    good luck!
  • If you have a bunch of little kids, I think a minivan is the only way to go. We had 4 kids in 4 years and that's the only way I'd go. Much more storage room for the playpens, strollers, diaper bag, and many other accoutrements of babydom.

    It never ceases to amaze me when I see people shortchange themselves because of vanity. So many women (and men) won't dare to be seen in a minivan because of some ridiculous image problem they will have with themselves if they buy one.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,016
    Or even if you don't have kids. Maybe if they renamed them to something else. But we digress:

    SUV vs Minivans

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • jcpharmjcpharm Posts: 92
    i think you are being a bit presumptuous to assume all CUV buyers are "vain" in their avoidance of minivans. For example, since we live in the Northeast, traction during the winter is very important to us and so we prefer AWD vehicles. There is no AWD option on the Odyssey and the Sienna AWD is not much of a bargain compared to large CUVs either. i have friends who own an Odyssey who say on icy days their minivan is slipping and sliding all over the place.

    I do admit that once you are at 3+ kids, it takes some creativity to comfortably seat them in a CUV and retain cargo space...
  • I too think you are a bit presumptuous. If I bang out another pair of kids, we'll see what happens. But while you accuse others of image problems, it seems perhaps you have popped out of no where to defend your image issues? None were mentioned here.

    Since you have 4 children, why didn't you get a Ford Econoline van? I would suspect its perhaps too LARGE for your needs? But have you shortchanged yourself? Perhaps.

    What I find incredible is the "thought compartmentalization" that minivan drivers seem to have. Such as the neighbors I have that say that with 2 kids, I NEED a minivan. I love how they are in my shoes and know MY needs.

    Funny but I know grown up families of 3-5 kids who did well with station wagons and sedans prior to 1990. Man has evolved with large families prior to the 1990s minivan.

    Then again, we are savvy travelers. I've also boarded a aircraft with wifey, toddler and infant, and only carry-on luggage aside from one 1 piece of checked luggage for 4 people for a week long transcon trip. Obviously, we know how to pack necessities. Perhaps MV drivers do not. I dunno.

    I would ask thought that you please remain on topic. I do moderate another forum and it seems the thread is being hijacked. Please remain to the questions I asked.

    Thank you.
  • Mirrodie, I too was in your situation about 6 months ago and got a lot out of this thread and citivas's comments. I believe he said you can fit three carseats although I don't know what kind he uses. I ended up buying a Pilot.

    I can tell you that I have an 08 (which is a bit narrower than the 10s) and I have fit three carseats in the 2nd row. But let me be clear that they were TWO toddler seats and ONE infant base/seat (which is a bit narrower than a toddler seat). I put the two toddler seats next to each other and the infant seat on the end and they fit..snuggly, but they fit. I don't think many CUVs would do even this. I can't comment on getting THREE toddler seats next to each other. Hopefully citivas can weigh in on that.

    I have had no problems with braking. I think the only issues with braking were in the one test done by Consumer Reports. I am a huge fan of CR but that didn't stop me from getting the Pilot just because it went an extra 8 ft or so (just guessing) during a braking test. If it was that bad (and a true everyday threat), CR would redflag the situation and basically say "don't buy this", which is what they do with truly dangerous products. Just my 2 cents on the safety aspect.

    Good luck!
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    >> I am a huge fan of CR but that didn't stop me from getting the Pilot just because it went an extra 8 ft or so (just guessing) during a braking test.

    Personally, I won't trust CR on testing cars other than their reliability data.
    There are other "guys" doing better jobs on testing automobiles.

    For stopping distances, the following data is from's fair and square test (meaning, same day, same track)
    CX9: 129ft
    Highlander: 131ft
    Pilot: 149ft
    The difference is not 8ft, but 20ft. Usually the distance would increase super-linearly if one looks at the data from 70mph-0 due to brake fading.
    I won't be concerned about 2ft difference, but I will when it is 20ft.
    A similar conclusion can be found on C&D, Road & Track, and Motor Trend,
    and Automobile magazines.

    10 years ago, a 149ft stopping distance might be considered as 'good', but nowadays, it is below average. A 129ft stopping distance is as good as any sports cars 10 years ago. :)
    I owned a '01 Odyssey for 8 yrs. I know about poor braking of Honda vehicles. I also owned an '91 Integra, and two Accords ('85 and '95). Not a Honda basher here. Just fact. And, Honda transmission is not as smooth as others'.
    Noisy interior also bothered me a lot.

    As to interior room, the Pilot is taller, hence more head room. CX9 is longer, hence more leg rooms (especially 3rd row). You have to sit in them to feel for yourself.

    Reliability-wise, I think Honda/Toyota have Mazda beat. CX9 reliability is not top-notch, but above average. I have mine for 2 yrs with 22K miles on it. I only had 1 minor window issue due to assembly (made in Japan, remind you).
    From reading this and other forums of CX9, most problems owners have are minor issues (suspension clicking, mirror glass shaking, electronic integration, etc). There have been very few powertrain issues. For CX9, engine is from Ford Duratec, and transmission is from Aisin (supplier of Lexus and Toyota).
  • Honestly, the brakes concern me as this will be primary in my wife's hands. But a Pilot PRO is that 3 child seats in mid row are possible. The con is brakes.

    The CX9 Pro is brakes with con of no 3 seats in mid row and perhaps reliability long term.

    And since I have great credit, now comes the financial question. I will qualify easily for the new incentives at Mazda, which Honda doesnt have. I can get 1.9% APR on a Maxda vs the going best rate of 5.89% on a new car loan. That might be the big PRO that might push us to Mazda. Even if Honda could match that, the brakes bug me.

    Citivas, where are you? Car 54.... ;) In all seriousness, I love all the forethought and sharing in this thread. We are so Torn.
  • jcpharmjcpharm Posts: 92
    as far your situation, if i read your previous post correctly, you stated you have a 3yo and a 6mo and "possibly another in a few years". That means your 3yo will be 5-6yo and your 6mo will be 2-3 yo when your 3rd arrives.

    Your 5-6yo will be perfectly fine in the 3rd-row seat with a booster (there are 3-point seat belts back there) fact, my almost-4-year old fits fine in a booster back there when i do have the 3rd row up.

    i don't think it's as big a deal unless you need immediate access to your oldest child in which case i guess the having all 3 kids in the 2nd row would be easier.

    just food for thought as i considered your particular situation.
  • In about an hour, I'll be in a CX9, working it out, looking at the room. (edmunds notes a difference of .8 cubic feet. That is nothing.) While Hondas are typically less reliable, you need reliable brakes. And considering Mazdas incentives, it may be a better vlue as well.

    Then I will test drive the Pilot again and work the brakes... bigtime.
    Im giving that salesman fair warning that he is in for a ride. But I gotta take it up to 60 and slam and see what transpires.

    Thank you for the thoughts.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Personally, I think the whole reliability concern is blown out of proportion.
    First, a Pilot might have 0 problem for the initial 5 years, CX9 might have 1 or 2 minor issues. So what? Nothing that a 7yr/100K ext warranty can't cover and fix. Can you guarantee that a Pilot will be problem-free for 7yr/100K miles? I can't. My '01 Odyssey transmission was shot at 89K. That is why I got my CX9 to replace it. As I said, I had been a total Honda-fan before CX9. Now, I am just more open to all brands.

    To remind you, a 7yr/100K MAZDA coverage costs only about $1500. CX9 is having $4500 rebate from factory. i.e. You can easily get a CX9 for $7500/$8500 below MSRP! That is several thousands below a comparable Pilot or Highlander. Enough money to get you the ext warranty plus some changes for investment (or covering the "resale value" loss that one may be concerned with).

    Just my opinion.
    If you were like me owning vehicles for 7/8 years, resale value does not really matter that much since they will worth about $8/9000 by then, plus/minus a couple thousands.
  • Where did you see the $4500 rebate on the 2010 CX9? Just checked edmunds and all I see is 1.9 APR for 60 mo. Please let me know. grazie!
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    To some, not having to take the car in for nagging issues is worth more money; having issues early on doesn't bode well for a car later in its life (some of us drive the wheels off of them! :shades: , only to put them back on and drive 'em even more!)

    I have a Honda (not a Pilot), but recommended two alternate brands to people very close to me. Both are happy with their choices; the parents' '08 Taurus had one recall, and my girlfriend's '07 Santa Fe has a drippy sunroof in the car wash, but neither of them has had anything major happen. My Accord even needed a new CD Changer near warranty's-end. I wasn't happy, but you're right, life does go on!
  • SO within an hour of each other, we drove the CX-9 and the Pilot:

    CX-9: My wife loved it, smooth ride she said. The interior to her seemed as roomy as Pilot but I thought Pilot had more space and certainly have more stowaway space. I didn't feel that the dashboard was 'upscale' compared to the Pilot. Its all plastic and the simulated wood grain on the cx9 was barely noticeable. I personally didnt care for the small armrest console on the cx9.

    The drive experience was hysterical. The dealer just gave my wife the keys and let her go alone. Then she returned and I took off by myself as well. I took the car out and did my own beating on it. I floored the pedal and felt that while it smoothly accelerated without the torque of the Pilot. I slammed on the brakes. Fine. Tight turning radius.

    I then made my way 30 minutes to the Honda dealer and called them in route with 40 minutes to closing.

    I took the Pilot out and the saleswoman came with me. I told her plainly that i was on a mission to put the car through the rigors. She said, "Oh, you mean you are really going to TEST test drive?"

    "Please buckle up. I need to work the brakes."

    We took the Pilot on some meadering roads. I floored the pedal and the Pilot was Not sluggish in my opinion. (Wife and I have a pair of Nissan Altimas. I am giving up the lease on my 2006 Altima 3.5, which I will miss dearly, while I ride the wheels off her 'young' 2000 Altima with 85K on it. The Pilot accelerated as well as the 3.5 Altima. It had MORE kick than the CX9, more torque.

    I slammed on the brakes a few times after hitting 50 to 60 MPH and the car responded.

    I got a quote and went home and crunched numbers.

    With the same options of leather sunroof and backup camera, the Cx9 is more $$ but with 1.5% financing, the CX9 ends up being ~1400 less than the Honda over a 6o month loan. However, according to, the Pilots residuals are higher.

    We really liked the cars equally and so are still torn. But on numerical analysis, it seems we are going with the Pilot after all. We felt the features were very similar and it was simply a matter of styling taste.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    $4500 rebate is for 2009 cash buy or external loan.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Looks like you are leaning toward Pilot. Congrats.

    So, you think Pilot's engine has more torque than CX9's? ;)
  • mms5mms5 Posts: 19
    We have been deciding between the CX9 and Pilot too. Thanks for your insight. I have decided on the Pilot too this week and this is why... I borrowed my friend's CX9 for the day and was surprised at how low I sat in it. When I looked out my side window, all I saw was the side mirror. That bothered me. I currently have a 2000 Odyssey and didn't realize how much I like sitting up instead of down. I thought the CX9 was very fun and peppy to drive. I test drove the pilot and liked the feel of the space up front. I felt much closer to the front windshield in the CX9. In your price comparison, did you factor in the $4500 incentive from Mazda?
  • jcpharmjcpharm Posts: 92
    i think you can only get the $4500 incentive if you finance externally from the dealer (eg. your local bank/credit union financing)...unless someone has had a different experience.
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