Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    SmartKey is not available on Pilot.

    The '09 Pilot I test drove had a smart key (i.e. keyless/proximity ket entry and start). I assumed it was an option in the GT model I was testing and not a dealer add-on but I didn't ask...
  • msammsam Posts: 15
    Nice improvements on the CX9. Somewhere I read that it may also have a direct injection engine thereby improving fuel economy. Are you aware if this is the case?
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Apparently direct injection engine is not on 2009 model of CX9. I don't think Pilot or Highlander engines are equipped with direct injection either.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    > The '09 Pilot I test drove had a smart key (i.e. keyless/proximity ket entry and start). I assumed it was an option in the GT model I was testing and not a dealer add-on but I didn't ask...

    Are you sure? I can't find such reference even at
    Also not in their official news release.

    BTW, there is no GT model for new Pilot. Did you mean CX-9 GT (Grand Touring) model?
    Pilot has Touring model, which is their top of the line. It comes with traditional remote entry only. (according to their website)
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I wonder if anyone has in-depth knowledge of the 3 different AWD systems on Pilot, Highlander and CX9. Pros and cons of each?

    Mazda does not spend many words on describing their AWD system. "Active-torque split" is all Mazda says about it. The system can distribute torque from 100%F-0%R to 50%F-50%R.

    In addition, people who opt for 20" wheel on CX9 better know that Mazda does not recommend putting tire chains on them (due to rubbing). So, if you live in an area where you need tire chains in winter even with AWD, you better skip the GT model
    or swap out the 20" wheels with dealer for less expensive 18" (same style) ones.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I meant the Touring... Like I said, I didn't ask if it was factory or a dealer add-on...
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I am not an expert on AWD/4WD systems, but I can tell you there is an extensive discussion on it for the Highlander AWD in that section of this forum. There is a thread dedicated to it. The consistent rap from otherwise happy owners is that it isn't very good and some have been disappointed by the performance in snow, etc. The Honda by comparison seemed to have an ability for the user to force-engage it which the Toyota didn't. I haven't read or seen much about the Mazda's system.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    Based on many postings here and on other Mazda user sites, it sounds like a lot of Mazda dealers are not experienced in adding this switch without side-effects

    When I bought my CX-9 back in February, my bluetooth didn't work, which irritated me to no end. However, the dealer already knew about the issue (something about the install of Sirius radio at the port, which screwed something up, a sort of splitter is required), and fixed it right the first time, and while they were at it installed the switching box I had bought for free (i.e. I was not charged for labor). Now to your point, there are earlier posts about dealers not knowing anything about the switching box, but I believe this is mostly a non-issue by now.

    So it all depends on the dealer, I've had nothing but good experiences. Heck, I even called Mazda Corp to send me a Zoom-Zoom sticker, and not only did they send me the sticker, they also sent me a $5 Starbucks gift card!

    If the 2009 models get the whole trip computer thingy, I wonder if I could retrofit that into my 2008....
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    From what I read and what I experienced, if you have a Mazda, I would recommend you to go to independet Mazda dealers for repair/service, not the Ford/Mazda combo ones. The former tend to be more knowledgeable about Mazda vehicles. After all, Ford and Mazda aren't exactly the same vehicles.

    Honda and Toyota owners don't have such issue since they should all be independent AFAIK.
  • ch1rravuch1rravu Posts: 14
    Many Toyota dealers these days call themselves Toyota/Scion dealers. So, solely Toyota dealers may not hold true these days, but considering the volume and prior knowledge, betcha those dealers are just as capable of servicing Toyotas just as fine prior to Scion arrival.

    Have anybody compared Navigation systems among these vehicles ? How well they do, how user-friendly these are, and how often company releases map-updates @ reasonable price ?

    We have a GARMIN, and are very happy with it, except for the power cable hook-up we oughta do each time we board vehicle (because we take the unit away with us each time we get off)

  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I compared the nav extensively. It was a big part of my test drives as it was one of the deciding factors. I would rank them in this order:

    1) Pilot
    2) Highlander
    3) CX-9

    The Highlander and CX-9 both license the same underlying system from the same provider so the physical navigation is almost identical. However, the Highlander has a slightly newer version of the software and each company has its own UI wrapper (menuing look, etc.) and in that category the Highlander's is way ahead of the CX-9 version. They both also have voice command, but the Mazda dealers could not get it to work at all on either of two test drives and two places with two cars. The Toyota one requires you memorize their not so obvious wording sequence but once I did I was able to input my home address by voice and it worked perfectly. It was less successful with things like finding the nearest gas station. However, the system was super annoying in that it required you wait for long, repetitive vocal instructions and hit the talk button twice for each command so it took forever -- about 3 minutes just to enter my address.

    The main problem I have with both of these is that they disable all user input, except by voice, when you are traveling 5 MPH or greater. This makes them almost useless in my book. Most people I know often travel with a passenger who can program the system while the driver is driving but Toyota, Mazda and the other users of this system seem to have decided that didn't matter. They would rather always have you pull over to the side of the road or off the nearest freeway exit, every time you need to search for something, or use the very iffy voice commands...

    The Pilot would win automatically in my book because it works while you're moving -- just like the Garmin and all the after-market ones do. But even if it weren’t for this, it would win because it also had the most comprehensive and best working set of voice commands and the most comprehensive control of non-nav functions from the screen. You could, for example, plug in your iPod and control it from the nav screen, seeing playlists, artists, albums, etc. Same for sat radio. Better still the voice commands control al these things too. You can say “passenger temperature 68 degrees” and it works. You can say something like (I forgot exactly what I said but I just did trial and error and it was pretty logical) “audio ipod track 2” and it works… Also, the new Pilot is using the exact same nav as the Acura MDX with just a few things taken out (the live traffic feature and Zagat’s I think), and the Acura nav is considered the best in the industry. My only gripe is I prefer the touch screen to the new “joystick” control that they have copied from BMW and others, but to each their own. It was easy to use, I just like a touch screen. Still, I would take the radical feature improvement over the touch screen any day.

    All of them navigated OK in my tests. None are remotely as good as the newest high-end Garmin or Tom Tom products, but the integration is important. I have a Garmin now and often don’t bother using it because I don’t like setting it up or having the dangling power cord, etc…
  • cx7lovercx7lover Posts: 48
    The AWD on the CX-7/9 works with throttle and G-Force readings from the DSC system, engine status as well. During a parking lot crawl below 10mph, the AWD is in total 100% FWD mode, above, it's in 90/10 split. Heavy throttle, snow, rain, cornering, and it can go as high as 50%, it all depends, but it is NOT a reactive system, it diverts torque BEFORE wheel spin, A highly common misconception of Mazda's AWD system is that it reacts and only diverts power only when wheel spin is present, not true in the slightest. There is a Normal, Sport, and Snow setting, all not controllable by the driver.
  • cx7lovercx7lover Posts: 48
    If you want the other two, go get either
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    It sounds to me that the AWD system in Mazda is superior to that of Pilot or Highlander. I wonder why Mazda literatures don't "sell" it in more details and more aggressively. I know VTM-4 of Pilot is passive (reactive) and lockable (good for some people who need it). Not sure about the Toyota system. SH-AWD of Acura is very advanced but its cost prohibits it to be installed on Hondas.

    Maybe because of the 90%/10% torque split (above 10mph), the AWD system is always working on CX9. That might explain the worse MPG with AWD on CX9 than that of Pilot or Highlander. The FWD models of CX9 seems to be doing well as far as MPG is concerned.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    ... Many Toyota dealers these days call themselves Toyota/Scion dealers. So, solely Toyota dealers may not hold true these days, but considering the volume and prior knowledge, betcha those dealers are just as capable of servicing Toyotas just as fine prior to Scion arrival. ...

    Scion is 100% owned by Toyota and only offer 3 vehicles (if my memory serves me well). Mazda is only 30+% owned by Ford and offer many more vehicles than Scion.
    So, I consider Scion is part of Toyota. Scion vehicles are sold as Toyota in Japan.
    Mazda/Ford relationship is more distant. My nearby Ford/Mazda combo dealer only has 1 master technician for Mazda. When he is off, there is no Mazda repair scheduled.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    cx7lover wrote: If you want the other two, go get either

    This was listed as a reply to one of my posts but I have no idea what you are referring to. What "other two"? I haven't expressed an overall preference for any of the three vehicles discussed in this thread. I've listed pros and cons to each (way back in this thread). Someone asked today for an analysis of the navigation systems and I ranked the cars for that specifically, but that is hardly the only factor in an overall vehicle decision.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I would not call Mazda's AWD "superior" to Honda's VTM-4 or Toyota's full time AWD system. I would say Toyota's is better because it uses a static torque split AWD that is 50/50 all the time.

    The Mazda CX-9 mpg's vary only 1 mpg from AWD and FWD applications. Also, it is 100% FWD until slippage occurs, and then up to 50% can be distributed to the rear as needed.
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    The Mazda and Highlander NAV systems are not game changers by any means. The Pilot system sounds neat, almost like the Ford Sync system--too bad the Sync system was not installed in the Mazdas.

    I would have loved a system like the Pilot's...but we didn't like the look of the Pilot at all, and it lacks a bit in power, imo......
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    what you described is a typical "passive" AWD. It detects slippage and reacts.
    Mazda's ATS-AWD is called "active" for a reason. Here is what the Australian Mazda website describe the Mazda Speed6's AWD (similar one is used on CX7 and CX9)
    ... ve%20Torque%20Split.aspx
    On top of that, there are three modes
    Normal, Sports and Snow plus a Power TakeOff module to assist fast acceleration
    by sending more torque to the rear. It also adjust torque split at turns. i.e. it is more active than passive.
    However, I can't seem to able to find the 90/10 torque-split that the prevous post refers to.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    No doubt in my opinion that Honda/Acura has the best OE Navi system in the industry . I have '05 Toyota Prius and '08 Mazda CX9, both have OE navi systems Both are OEM from Denso. Other than some graphic interface differences, they are very similar in usage model, also look and feel. They both suck compared with stat-of-the-art portable units. However, I cannot say that the one on my Prius is better than the one on my CX9. Maybe this is not a fair comparison since the '08 models of Toyota might have made some advancements in this area.

    Anyway, the speed-lockout on Toyota/Mazda is a big headache. Buyers be aware of it. One needs to buy an aftermarket kit to bypass it (essentially cuts the VSS input to the NAVI unit when needed).
Sign In or Register to comment.