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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    The Honda's resale value has been awesome so far. I am coming off of a three year lease next month and my '09 Pilot Touring will is worth at least $6-8,000 more than my residual payment and only $6K or so less than what I paid new. Amazing.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    edited July 2011
    can't be wrong by going with Honda or Toyota!
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Can you give us an exact dollar figure as to your lease buyout and current value?
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Ok. My lease residual buy out will come in right around $22K after factoring in NJ sales tax. The used market is so hot right now that I am getting dealers proactively calling me every week asking if I would sell my car to them. I haven't even been competitive with trade-in offers yet and already have a $29,000 offer. According to KBB online, that's right in the range for a dealer trade-in value for my equipment and several thousand below what I could probably get with a private party. I negotiated $34K new 3 years ago (Touring), including tax, license, doc, etc., but before you factor in the lease costs. I will have paid $15K in lease payments plus $3K in up-front trade-in value. So if I sold now, worst case I will have spent about net $11K for three years of ownership of a top-of-the-line Pilot, or about $305/month. If I used the KBB estimate for a "good" (not excellent) condition private sale, I would only be down about $7.4K or $205/month.

    It's all theoretical because I don't plan to sell this year. I seriously considered it but after looking at all the current model year 3-row CUV’s on the market I couldn’t find any I wouldn’t have considered a trade-off for my Pilot, and that includes looking at all the luxury brands including BMC, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Acura, Lexus, etc. I was disappointed that in three years there hadn’t been anything that gained or retained the benefits of the Pilot but with more luxury drive and interiors. So I’ll wait at least a year and see if any major model refresh changes the picture. Honda sent letters and had multiple people call trying to talk me into “trading it in” for a new lease for a current model year top-of-the-line Pilot “at no up-front cost” with “the same or better” payments but I said no thanks.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Interesting....based on market conditions in our area (I'm in western CT, and NJ is in my market) $29,000 seems like a really good offer! Average retail price for your car is about $30,500. $29,000 is $1000 over market-ready condition on trade or wholesale purchase, which means your car would need no re conditioning, no tires or brakes. It's about $2,500 over market value if your car does need brakes and tires.

    The values you are being offered is because there are no new Pilot Touring's with navigation available, so it is driving up used car prices. I am seeing the same thing with CX-9's in my dealership. The pre-owned ones are going through the roof at auctions and in used selling prices. I have 2008 Mazda CX-9 GT's selling for $28,000.

    Let us know how you make out! Good luck!! :)
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    The reason you see more HLs on the road then CX-9s is solely because Toyota has done a exceptional job in establishing "reliability" among consumers. In which point to an extent at one time it was true, not so much now. Toyota has shifted their focus on remianing the #1 car manufacturer that they have lost their focus in reliability and shifted into number of units just to keep up with the likes of our domestic brands.

    I am a proud owner of a 2007 CX-9 and I do not regret ever purchasing it. It is by far superior to an HL in every way, in my opinion. Sporty yet luxuriously looking, 20" wheels are a nice feature, very durable and supple leather, quick, HIDs, LEDs, and an actual very friendly easy to access 3rd row seat.

    I am not biased to Mazda only, because I also own a Honda Accord coupe (daily-driver) and my wife drives a Ford Escape (which I really like as well, minus the excesive road noise). So with that'll never see me in a Toyota unless their design/engineering team gets fired and replaced with otherss that can offer a not so boring vehicle all together.

    Toyotas are just plain boring bricks on wheels....too bad for a company that has established such a good reputation....btw, Honda is right on the same path as Toyota except that they are using a much bigger and stronger ugly stick to mold their vehicles...
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    edited July 2011
    Realistically speaking CX9 is not that sporty (besides looking sporty), here's 0-60 numbers

    Pilot 9.7 sec
    CX-9 8.5sec
    HL 7.8 sec

    HL is also superior in handling to other 2 because it is a bit lighter so I wouldn't call it boring brick on wheels. As far as third row many people including me care less, for 4 years of ownership I used it 3 times and it was fine.

    BTW Pilot has 149ft breaking distance from 60 MPH, this is why I didn't even consider it.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    As I said, I'm not planning to sell this year despite the high offers. I couldn't find anything worth moving away from my Pilot on yet so I'm waiting for major model re-designs. I get that new model scarcity would jack up the used prices, but then how could Honda offer to put me in a comparably equipped new model year Pilot lease with no down and no payment change if I turned in my 2009 vehicle instead of buying it?

    What I need to excite me into a change from the Pilot is a more luxury or better driving CUV that doesn't have a crappy GPS with a nanny lock out and has at least 7 truly usable seats, preferably 8 (like the Pilot). Hybrid would be nice but I won’t pay a 30% premium that would take 18 years of ownership to make-up like with the Highlander. The GPS limitation currently rules out a lot of the contenders, including the Mazda and Toyota. And the lack of decent seating rules out Honda’s cousin, the Acura, which really only has 4 usable seats, plus 3 pathetic ones (including the middle second row seat). I’m optimistic that waiting for the new major model re-designs will help expand the field but one can hope. I might even be able to give a little on the quality of the secondary seating but I will never give in on getting another vehicle without a built-in GPS or with one that is useless but for lame voice commands when in motion. If Mazda ever solved that severe shortcoming I would seriously consider it.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I've always been curious how they do those 0-60 tests because I have tested my Pilot (we have plenty of low traffic country roads around where I live) multiple times and have handily beat it. I'm not defending the Pilot's drive which is just ok. But it's just not true that it takes that long to accelerate. Perhaps if all you did was immediately floor and stick the accelerator but I figured out early on that Pilot acceleration requires a little bit of subtle art to pump the gas at the right rev-up spot. Then it jumps handily. If you don’t do this it seems to get caught up in mid-acceleration before getting over the hump. You can say that’s poor engineering but whatever the reason you can accelerate faster if you adapt to the car.

    I’ve also never had any complaints about braking on the Pilot, though I have read the tests and unlike the 0-60 test I haven’t wanted to abuse my car testing the distance. We’ve always owned at least one Toyota or Lexus as our other vehicle (though if we were buying today we’d get the Odyssey over the Sienna) and my wife and I both prefer the braking experience of the Pilot, perhaps not on paper but in daily use. The Toyotas tend to have overly tight braking when the brakes have first been adjusted and then they get softer and softer between servicing. This is definitely the experience with our Sienna and previous Lexus RX300. And these cars were bought on opposite sides of the country and serviced at at least 8 dealerships in 3 states, so it’s not just about how they were serviced. The Pilot feels neither overly firm or soft and is consistent. It’s easy to judge what you need. Which is not to say it may not be a little worse in a worst-case crash condition. I defer to the testing. Just sharing our experience.

    As far the “sportiness” of the drive, it’s not all about statistics. I own neither the Highlander or CX-9 but test drove both at least half-a-dozen times and have driven the Highlander often since my in-laws own one and I’ve had it as rentals several times. It “feels” light and accelerates well. But the CX-9 is in an entirely different league over the Highlander in terms of the feel and handling. The Highlander has soft steering (something almost every review notes) and it just doesn’t take turns like the Mazda. The Mazda has come out ahead in so many professional car reviews in terms of drive and handling that it is silly to pretend the Highlander is its equal in that category. It may be for your particular needs, which is fine, but it’s not the “drivers vehicle” the way the CX-9 is.

    I respect all of these vehicles as having advantages for people with different priorities. For us overall function (including tech) and utility was the top priority so the Pilot made sense. If you want a 3-row hybrid, or even the best conventional mileage of the three, the Toyota is the way to go. If you want a great drive, the Mazda wins.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    1. Yes it is sporty looking, put a CX9 and an HL side by side covering up the badges (Toyota, Mazda) and I guarantee you the CX9 would render more attention.

    2. Your 0-60 numbers are meaningless in this category because the last time I checked no one is using these vehicles to drag race, they are family cross-overs. And even if we (you and I) wanted to drag race, my 0.7 deficit (according to you) is hardly anything substantial to make a difference. The 0.7 difference can be void if you have a slow reaction at take-off.

    3. Your claim that HL is superior in handling to the CX9, is solely your opinion and I disagree. Do some research to back up your statement. CX-9 ran the slalom at 61.4 MPH with minimal body roll, your superior in handling HL ran it at 59 MPH with moderate body roll. Let me know when you want to meet me at the canyons and we can find out for ourselves...

    4. If you can care less for the 3rd row seating, then why did you pay extra for it? I was in the market for a 3 row 7-8 passenger cross-over and CX-9 took the trophy hands down for accesibility and comfort of the 3rd row, and yes it was one of my deciding factors among all other great things about my CX-9.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Yeah, if I didn't need the third row there are a whole lot of other CUV's I would consider... I get that some people don't need it though, which I guess is the market the Highlander is targeting since their middle second row and third row are pretty bad. For me, I use it literally every day so it is essential.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    edited July 2011
    1. I've owned Hondas and Toyotas for long time and can tell you a dirty secret - no one buys these cars for looks.

    2. 0-60 number tells a lot, if you live in busy city try to merge on the freeway on slower vehicle. 0.7 sec makes a big difference.

    3. In spite of its sporty persona, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 ends up with the slowest slalom speed (58.4 mph) due to its undefeatable stability control system's relatively low threshold of intervention. - -2008-toyota-highlander.html

    4. I got a third row in HL since it is nice to have and I used it few times. I have family of 4 and wanted to have third row to carry my kid's friends when needed. If I'd need to carry more then 5 people on regular basis I'd get a minivan, would be much more comfortable then any CUV on the market. Even now I think that HL is bigger then I'd need, I liked first gen HL size more.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    this is something new to me, what's bad with HL second row? Do you own a HL?
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Our other car is a minivan. But whenever the whole family is traveling anywhere together or on trips, we universaly all prefer the Pilot as the main family vehicle. And we could care less about being seen in a minvan or not, so we don't avoid it for stigma. So I would say it is an opinion that a minivan is more comfortable. That's certainly not our experience.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I don't own a HL because I didn't like the seating or the nav system. But I test drove one 5 times three years ago, I test drove the current model 2 times this year, my in-laws own one and I have driven it over 1,000 miles, and I have had one twice in the last three years as a rental vehicle.

    My problem with the middle second row seat (I specified middle seat only in that row) is it’s only half a seat. It's not comfortable for an adult and it is too small for a full car seat and too hard for a little kid to reach under the seat to buckle the seatbelt. In the interest of mimicking a minivan and letting people remove it they sacrificed the quality of the seat (if I had needed that feature I could have gotten another minivan). So it really only becomes useful for a kid who is out of a car seat but not full grown. And because you can only fit full tethered car seats on one of the two side second row seats (too hard to constantly take them in/out of the third row or put the kids in them there and buckle them), that means the middle second row seat is an important location for adults. In our Pilo, we probably have an adult sitting in the middle second row at least twice a week on average plus on long car trips that are hundreds of miles. Just not realistic in the HL.

    Some people only need limited seating so this is not an issue for them. But for those that need more, the HL seating is much less versatile than the Pilot which can literally seat 8 adults – the third row is night-and-day more roomy than the HL.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    That's why we have all these choices, get the car that suits your needs the best. Nobody ever complained to me about middle seat on the middle row. Plenty of times I had 3 people seating on the middle row for long duration. Middle seat makes something close to the bench seat out of middle row. I'd say it depends on adult size. 3 normal size adults fit there without a problem or discomfort, pretty much the same as family size sedan second row, even a bit wider.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    HL is also superior in handling to other 2 because it is a bit lighter so I wouldn't call it boring brick on wheels.

    While the Highlander is slightly faster to 60, it is equal to the CX-9 in the quarter mile. It gets destroyed in the corners. With every media outlet that has tested the road manners of any 3 row crossover, the CX-9 repeatedly beats the Highlander, and every other non luxury 3 row CUV on the market. Nothing has changes in the 4 years the car has been on the market.

    Here is a quote from a March 2011 comparo from Motor Trend in regards to the Highlanders handling: "The faster you go, the more this thing wobbles."

    In contrast, the same article praised the CX-9: "As a high speed, canyon-carving seven-seater, the CX-9 is severely gifted. It actually inspires confidence when you push, quite unlike the rest of the field"

    I'm not trying to bash the Highlander in any way. It is a really good car, but lets not call it what it's not...which is a better handler than the CX-9.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Thank you aviboy...precisely my point!
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Luckyseven, let me let you in a dirty little secret too...I have been a Honda Certified Parts Proffesional for about 12 years now and have worked for a few dealers including my current position with an auto group that includes the following:
    Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ford, Lincoln, GM, Chevrolet, Buick, Honda, Toyota and Scion.

    I certainly consider looks for my purchases among other considerations. Did you notice that I own a Mazda CX-9 which we (the Auto Group) do not carry as one of our makes? Precisely my point...I was not impressed witht he offerings all these makes provided in the CUV segment...including (again) the ho-hum boring and ugly looking HL (again, my opinion). However, given that you say that " no one buys these cars for looks" I can see why your choice was to go with an HL.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    There is a little more add to it... I owned a Protege years ago and my customer experience was really bad with it, what a money pit. I also owned Civic, Accord(s), Camry, and HL and will not likely ever go back to Mazda. Even if Toyotas and Hondas are not the prettiest cars on the road they do deliver.
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