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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • cx7lovercx7lover Posts: 48
    And you can get a big discount on the Mazda, most Toyota Dealers will never discount any of their cars as heavily as a Mazda dealer. Add in the excellent financing available through Mazda Credit, you're saving a bundle right there.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    That's right, you can get CX-9s at invoice if you haggle a little. Although June 2008 Highlander sales were way below that of June 2007 (something like 30% less), so maybe Toyota dealers might be getting desperate.
  • waygrabowwaygrabow Posts: 209
    I am selective in whose MPG figures I accept. Watching people drive, it seems that some people are always tapping the brake pedal (following too close) or racing to the next stop light (to get there before it turns green). And it seems that the complainers with poor gas mileage are the ones who often post on these forums. On my last two vehicles average mpg has been higher than the EPA estimated highway mileage. Thus, when considering a new car, I consider reported MPG with some reservation.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Just saw the newspaper today on CX9
    - $6000 off MSRP (about $2500 BELOW INVOICE) for 2008
    - 0% APR for 36months

    On MPG, I just did a round trip to Sacramento from Fremont with my CX9 GT AWD, (220 miles, 98% freeways mainly #5, some traffic, some hilly area) averaging 75mph. Average 3 persons and 1 luggage for both ways.

    Average MPG is 21MPG (actually 20.91mpg) measured by top-off at the same pump at the same gas station. That ain't bad at all.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    There is a $3,000 "dealer engagement" offer on the 2008 CX-9's right now. It is technically not a rebate, hence that is why the offer appears to be below invoice, and you also do not see it on Mazda's web site. Either way, it's a great offer. You can take the "engagement cash" or take Mazda up on their 1.9% financing for 60 months, or 0% for 36. Cannot combine both.
  • steveayzsteveayz Posts: 28
    With today's gas prices heading in only one direction MPG should be one of the main decision criteria if cars come close on your list. On my 2008HL AWD I consistently get 21.5MPG in mixed driving. On HWY it is not hard to get 24-25 if you don't go over 70MPH and use cruise control. This is for summer time with no ethanol added. In winter it is not as good, I think I loose at list 1MPG. I blame cold weather and winter gas mix. As far as third row.. My kids used it couple of times at most and it serves the purpose just fine.
  • cx7lovercx7lover Posts: 48
    Yeah maybe if you're poor or shortsighted (shopping by MPG is the worst thing anyone could do) but the MPG difference is offset greatly and in the favor of the CX-9 due to discounts and financing deals. The third row in the CX-9 can fit real albeit not huge adults. The Highlander can't.
  • steveayzsteveayz Posts: 28
    Learn to read buddy. I said "MPG should be one of the main decision criteria if cars come close on your list". I never said that MPG should be main criteria overall. CX-9 discounts and financing deals you mentioned will be offset by HL resell value in a future. Besides that 3rd row is only usefull if you haul more then 5 people in the car. I used it twice for the whole time of car ownership and it serves the purpose. And yes, you can fit adults there too if you move middle row forward. Is not this ironic that 2008HL takes less gas then car of your choice CX-7 (figured by your name cx7lover)
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I found "mixed driving" a very confusing term. I am sure a mixed driving in Texas is very different from one in NY city. :)

    Anyway, driving slowly can great improve MPG on highway. This is no secret at all.
    Today, I made another trip to Sacramento, and got 26mpg (based on my ScanGuageII) for a 40mile strip with steady but slower traffic (roughly 50-55). Overall, I averaged about 70mph and got 22.5mpg for the entire 220miles round trip.
    No cruise control, just not heavy-footed.

    Today, I saw a couple of new Pilots on my trip. It certainly is bigger than I expected (cross-section wise). Still, it looks boxy and the front end just does not grow on me. :(

    Personnally, all three are great choices. To each, one's own.

    P.S. Since CX9 has no trip computer, I found my new ScanGuageII very helpful and informative.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    There is no huge price advantage for the CX-9 in real-world shopping right now. You can get the Highlander Limited (not Hybrid) below dealer invoice if you work it right now. By the time you do this the price is within $1K of the similarly equipped Mazda.

    Also, if you do he math on all the real-world MPG results posted in these forums you will see areal-world MPG difference of over 3 MPG, which is close to 20%.

    For the poster who said the Highlander 3rd row does just fine, they must only have two kids still too young for the front seat. We have three and the middle seat is not really a full seat, nor can the second row handle three car seats side-by-side... The Highlander seating is its most significant flaw, offset by the class leading MPG. It really is only a 4 seater most of the time with an optional kid row that is only useful on short trips with no luggage.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I believe Highlander has the best MPG from all information I gathered, but I don't believe the 3mpg difference you talked about (Highlander over CX9). That is exaggerating. No offense, but I just don't believe it. There is major difference in FWD and AWD mpgs. EPA estimated 1mpg difference, but in real world it is more like 2mpg on highway, 3mpg in city driving. So, when talking about statistics, one needs to separate FWD and AWD and compare them.

    My best guess is maybe 1mpg better (at most 2mpg combined) for Highlander over CX9 (or Pilots). The CX9 has short 1st gear and 200lb extra pounds to hual around. Highlander gear ratios may be better spreaded for MPG purpose. I know CX9 did them for zoom-zoom feel so MPG was secondary.

    Price? Highlander below INVOICE?! Try $3000 BELOW INVOICE now for a CX9. How much gas can $3000 buy? That is 750 gallons (@$4) for 15000 miles(@20mpg). Enough for one to drive 1+ year! For 2mpg difference? $3000 is enough to compensate for 10 years of ownership, not counting the interest the $3000 generates.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Look, I explained my methodology in a previous post. There are extensive posts in this forum (and some others) for each of these cars where people list their real-world MPG. There wasn’t much data yet for the 2009 Pilot. but there is a ton for the Highlander and a decent amount for the CX-9. I was only interested in the AWD Highlander, not the FWD. I created a spreadsheet and entered everyone's reported mileage. Now you can question the accuracy of the underlying data. But what is there to “exaggerate”? That data showed what the data showed. One could argue that people only tend to report the low MPG because complainers post most. Perhaps. But I saw a lot of people bragging about their MPG too or indicating they we’re at least satisfied that it was appropriate to the car type, so I’m not sure I would agree with that criticism. Also, as we all know actual MPG will vary greatly based on the driver. But when you have enough points of data this should balance out. I am confident there are some very careful drivers who can get better MPG from their Pilot or CX-9 than a really aggressive driver in a Highlander. But the issue should be apples-to-apples what is “typical.” I personally believe in a lot of data over any one person’s personal experience or what they “think” it is based on their own gut. And the data I had showed about 3 MPG. Even if you ignored all this data and went with what is consistently reported in comparison reviews on this and other sites, it would still be about close to a 10% difference (1.6 MPG) in MPG versus less than a 5% weight difference. So I think it’s fair to say Toyota has engineered a more fuel efficient vehicle.

    If you read my first post, I was the first I have seen here (in this thread anyway) to report about the $3,000 dealer incentive for the Mazda, so I am well aware of it. However, you incorrectly quote $3,000 below dealer invoice versus MSRP. If you go to the Mazda forum post for real-world prices paid recently, I have not seen many people reporting they walked away for $3K below dealer invoice. There are plenty who got MORE than $3K off MSRP though and certainly well below dealer invoice. But, again, since you can also get the Toyota below invoice right now, the real world delta between then is not $3K. Go check out the prices paid posts yourself if you don’t believe me. Plus I have been negotiating on all three of these cars. The real world difference works out to about $1K, give or take. This is certainly not true of the Hybrid Highlander, but Toyota is being uncharacteristically agreeable in trying to get rid of regular Highlanders right now.

    To me all of this is academic. All of these prices and MPG’s are close enough that it doesn’t make sense for price or MPG to be the sole deciding factors between these three vehicles right now.
  • pcz0925pcz0925 Posts: 9
    I won't get into any discussion over MPG as you appear to have your own process which makes sense based on the limited data available. As for the CX-9 price, I can comment. In lieu of low rate financing Mazda incentifies dealers $3000 per CX-9. Based on that I purchased mine last week for $7750 below MSRP or $4500 BELOW invoice. Mazda dealers here in the Midwest appear ready & willing to move their vehicles as each one I checked with was below invoice AND provided the full $3000 off of that. None of the local Toyota dealers are going anywhere close to a CX-9 on just price - my neighbor is currently shopping for a Highlander Limited FWD comparably equipped to my CX-9 AWD and the price difference is between $3200 and $3900 - plenty to pay for the extra gas I'll use...but who can put a price on all that fun I'll be having while I ZOOM ZOOM.

    BTW I found financing through (via Capital One) for 4.67% for 60 mos.
    with 0 down.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    So I think it’s fair to say Toyota has engineered a more fuel efficient vehicle.

    The Highlander weighs 200 lbs less: there's most of your gain over the CX-9 right there, it has nothing to do with design, it's just a smaller vehicle. Generally, for each 100 lbs less of weight, you gain about 1 mpg**. So 200 lbs less for the Highlander should give you about 2 mpg better. **(also see here for a calculation)

    The rest of the data is just noise, i.e. driving habits (maybe CX-9 owners are more heavy footed than the Highlander crowd), what extra cargo is carried in the vehicles, etc. etc.

    The CX-9 is rumored to get a direct injection engine, which should increase HP and increase mpg...we'll see!
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093

    Good points you made. I found that the short 1st gear (4.15) costs MPG of CX9 in city driving as well as the extra 200lbs. I own a Prius, so I have nothing against Toyota. It is just that I can't live with that lousy 3rd bench and floaty driving feel (and lousy electric steering, too). I know electric steering 'cause Prius has it also. Toyota apparently use electric steering for less drag on the engine (better MPG also). It is a design choice.

    I recently installed ScanGuageII on my CX-9, and get to monitor instant MPGs (plus per day, trip, tank, etc.) I have been getting 17.5mpg (from 16.5mpg) on my same daily commute trip with a bit adjustment in driving style (the right amount of acceleration - not too fast, not too slow).

    Direct injection would improve engine efficiency by about 5% or more. I would also recommend Mazda to use a aluminum hood. It might save about 20lb. A heavy hood serve no purpose at all. MAZDA, are you listening.....
  • ch1rravuch1rravu Posts: 14
    Sure you may feel you could zoom zoom better in CX-9, but NOT faster than Highlander. Anything over 8 seconds zoom-zoom to 60, is prolly trying lawn-mower race cart.

    Not many dealers sit their vehicles in lots, but rather in preperation areas (call it their warehouse). If anything is any indication, in our hood I see normal amount of stock in Toyota warehouse, lesser-than-usual @ Honda warehouse (mostly due to fast setting Civics), and tons-and-tons of non-moving Mazda ducks. It may be local phenomenon, but sure doesn't bode well observing this thing for the past 4-6 months.

    Has anybody gotten monthly sales figures for CX-9 compared to Highlanders vs Pilots to see how well each brand/model is doing ?

    By the way, anybody compiled, how many on-going recalls/silent-recalls, dealer-fixes and :lemon: law suits that are files against CX-9 and other models?

    If you really want to figure where many Americans are plunking down thier hard-earned money, just look at sales numbers.

    If you got money to spare, yeah - you can zoom zoom better, try a BMW X5 or a Mercedes or a Lexus - they may take you to your destination in Style too!

    Regarding Electrical steering: it takes some getting used to, sure even BMW introduced electric steering in their family, and took decent flak. Guess, its one of the things folks would have to start getting used to. After a while of driving with it, it doesn't feel that much different, and my friends actually like electric steering.

    Folks miss other critical advantages with electrical steering: Better insulation/firewall, better NVH, and better crash performance. In addition, some Engineering folks advice that Electrical steering is better integrated with VDIM/VSC (vehicle stability control), making it work better to save lives! According to consumer advocate Clark Howard: ".. electronic stability control .. expected to save more lives than any other gadget, except for maybe a seatbelt" ** (and he didn't include Anti-lock brakes, airbags, and other boondabgles in this list, because VSC/ESC is no pretender, but REAL-DEAL !!).

    Now, do I want VSC/VDIM? See how VDIM in action in this video:

    (though I sure wouldn't recommend doing crazy stunts on a icy road!)

    ** REF **
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Do you always buy the most popular vehicles?
    I don't. I made my own choice considering my own needs and criteria.

    If sales numbers determine which vehicle is better, then all auto-magazines can stop their comparison test. Just collect the sales numbers and declare winners.
    By the way, which major award has Highlander or Pilot obtained yet?

    Hers is a list of MAJOR awards that CX9 has roped...
    Mototrend: Sports Utility of the Year 2008
    Automobile Magazine: All-Star 2008
    Car And Driver: 5 Best Truck 2008

    P.S. Highlander was a contender in all three of them.
    Yes, awarding winning is a big factor of mine when it comes to choosing vehicles.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    Has anybody gotten monthly sales figures for CX-9 compared to Highlanders vs Pilots to see how well each brand/model is doing ?

    Overall Toyota sales are down 11.5% as compared to this time last year, while Mazda is up 3.7% (both based on a daily selling rate for June). Highlander sales are down 31%, while CX-9 sales are down only 6.4%.

    As far as absolute numbers, Toyota has always outsold Mazda in terms of shear volume. Mazda caters to a more sport-minded crowd, and have always had less models to offer. But as you can see, the Highlander is taking a beating, while the CX-9 is doing a nice, steady job.
  • ch1rravuch1rravu Posts: 14
    Some folks may be saying Mazda is offering more discount (over $3K-4K under invoice!!), if CX-9 roped in that many awards, why does it need that /rebate/ push ? All we are hearing is one is lucky if Highlander can be had for under 1K below invoice.

    What little I know, Toyota does what it calls - product mix changes, and during such shifts, its expected one model sells more than the others. MAZDA is pushed to being a a niche player (note: sidelined), considered one or two trick pony. Come 10 years now, would you believe Mazda, which is under controlling stake of Ford, is going to be steadfast and honor its commitment to its product line(s), parts and service and continue to make and support CX-9 model?

    Some of you guys can have CX-9, it may not be a bad vehicle on first year or two of ownership. Wait till those lease-returns start trickling in .. By all means - I also enjoy driving sportsy vehicle occationally say 'stang, but do I want to own one knowing its reliability, and how stiff driving hurt backs on long-trips history ? pass,

    No doubt, Highlander is not sports tuned, and may feel slightly wobbly to somebody's tastes, thats a choice folks gotta make.

    What award did Highlander win? "Peoples Choice Award" - just check sales numbers. Where did CX9 rank among 'sumer 'rports rankings? mid-pack fourth !!

    Where did I heard the quote "The CX-9's sales are a drop in the bucket compared with Toyota's Highlander" ? No wonder CX-9 is a one trick pony.

    By the way its smaller brother CX-7 dropper well over 50% in June. So, you can't really compare company to company sales volume ..

    By all means - nobody saying CX-9 is a bad vehicle, only time will determine the truth, and its re-sale value., until that time zoom fast for what may be a short-lived fun! (CX-9 is based on stretched Ford Edge, we know resale values of Ford Edge !!)

    What did 'sumer 'rports have to say on CX-9? -- "First-year reliability has been below average" "Braking distances .. long in our tests on both dry and wet pavements (compared to all 6 competitors)" "Low Fuel economy"

    Sure Highlander has some low points as well, but it seems more people are willing to make a choice with safe, reliable vehicle more than a niche-market player.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    I don't. I made my own choice considering my own needs and criteria.
    Yes, awarding winning is a big factor of mine when it comes to choosing vehicles.

    Interesting. You based your choice on your own criteria, of which winning an award based on someone else's criteria was a big factor. ;)

    In all seriousness, I doubt anyone will regret purchasing any of these CUVs. Each is a little different. Everyone's motivation for choosing one over the other will be different too. Nothing wrong with that.

    I took a look at an '09 Pilot Touring this afternoon. Maybe it was the black interior, but the plastics used were an immediate turn-off. Like the Highlander, the dash and upper door panels are hard plastic. Unlike the Highlander, the texture and grain look and feel out of place for a $38K vehicle.

    The only advantage was the headliner, but since I don't spend much time staring at the ceiling, that's a minor plus.

    I also don't like the center seating position's ceiling-mounted seat belt. When installed, it looks terrible. When stowed, you have to remember to set it up whenever you plan on having a passenger in that position. It's a minor detail, but the Highlander has a seat-mounted center shoulder belt.
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