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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



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

    We are expecting baby #3 any day now. When we went to test drive the CX9 & the Pilot, we took our 4-year-old son's skinny booster seat, our 2-year-old son's big toddler carseat and our Graco Snugride infant seat. We tried and tried to fit these in the 2nd row of the CX9, but couldn't get it to work. We then tried to just fit two of them and put the 3rd in the back, but we couldn't get the seat down to let our son in the back because the two carseats were in the way. It was frustrating for us and I didn't need that. SO...we drove straight over to the Honda dealership and tried the carseats in there. My husband actually started laughing as all three carseats were put in the 2nd row WITH ROOM TO SPARE! There was plenty of room for our oldest son to be able to buckle his seat belt between the other carseats. What a difference! Both cars are very nice, but we got the Pilot. We fell in love with it after testing both cars. Hope that helps with that question! ;)
  • "So, you think Pilot's engine has more torque than CX9's?"

    --Oh, totally. In the 3.5 Altima I drive, it cranks. So jumping into the CX9 was a drop down in torque, huge dropdown I felt. In the Pilot, it moved. My wife put it this way, in all the CUV and SUVs we have test driven, the CX-9 didnt want to "take off" like the others did and like my Altima does.

    "and was surprised at how low I sat in it."

    -- I was too initially but I raised the seat up and that was fine. Did you do that on the test ride?

    "CX9 was very fun and peppy to drive"

    -Fun, yes, just as fun as the Pilot, but not peppy in my humble opinion.

    "Both cars are very nice, but we got the Pilot. We fell in love with it after testing both cars."

    --Yes, its a difficult decision. But on top of all the factors considered, I figured this: The resale on the Honda is significantly higher than the Mazda although over time the Cx9 purchase would save me $1500. However, I am partial to getting more mileage and the options out right now stink for 3 row SUVs. If the Pilot have a diesel or hybrid engine, I would have been sold ages ago.

    ****sighs**** I learned to drive on my mother's 1984 Buick Estate Wagon. And this past Sunday I saw a Buick Roadmaster go by. Those were roomy cars! Bring those back in a diesel. 3 people in Front, 3-4 in the mid ro and 3-4 in back. Those were the days! ;)
  • PS congrats on the new arrival!
  • I learned to drive on my mother's 1984 Buick Estate Wagon. And this past Sunday I saw a Buick Roadmaster go by. Those were roomy cars! Bring those back in a diesel. 3 people in Front, 3-4 in the mid ro and 3-4 in back. Those were the days!

    They do have them...sort of... they are called Ford E-Series Vans and Dodge Sprinters.....LOL!!!
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    For the record, CX9's engine has more torque than Pilot's.
    Many factors affect the off-line feel, engine torque is one of them, not all.

    Enjoy your purchase. Honda vehicles do not disappoint, either.
    All three are great buys. To each one's own.
  • CX-9:

    Base Number of Cylinders: 6
    Base Engine Size: 3.7 liters
    Base Engine Type: V6
    Horsepower: 273 hp
    Max Horsepower: 6250 rpm
    Torque: 270 ft-lbs.
    Max Torque: 4250 rpm
    Curb Weight: 4546 lbs


    Base Number of Cylinders: 6
    Base Engine Size: 3.5 liters
    Base Engine Type: V6
    Horsepower: 250 hp
    Max Horsepower: 5700 rpm
    Torque: 253 ft-lbs.
    Max Torque: 4800 rpm
    Curb Weight: 4608 lbs

    Numbers don't lie...I hardly believe that the Pilot feels peppier or feels torquier then the CX-9. Less power and more weight do not equal to a quicker, peppier, torquier vehicle, but as said before "to each it's own" I will take my CX-9 over the Pilot anyday, thank you!
  • Oh, I know. I knew the stats as well. ( I thought I had mentioned that). Mea culpa if I didnt.

    But as ceric notes, my feeling is likely based on several factors other than what I noted.

    They really are all great options.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    May have more to do with throttle-pedal calibration than engine tuning. My '06 Accord 2.4L feels easily as quick as my folks' 263 horse Taurus in the first 40% of the throttle. Despite being only a 5-speed auto vs. the 6-speed in the Ford, the transmission is quicker to respond, snappy when it does, and isn't afraid to crank out a few revs to get you moving if your foot asks it to. The Taurus takes more boot to scoot, but once it gets towards the floor, it really flies, leaving my 166 horse Accord in the dust. Throttle calibration can make or break a driving experience. Neither of the two cars I'm talking about are bad, just very different. Perhaps the CX-9 and Pilot are also quite different?

    Maybe the Mazda's transmission and electronic throttle are tuned less aggressively than the Pilot. I've driven a Pilot, didn't find it as peppy as my Accord, but haven't driven a CX-9 to compare. It was still perfectly adequate for merging and typical use expected of an 8-passenger "family truckster." :)
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    Modern transmission learns your driving style. Period.
    Its called grade logic. If you are an aggressive driver, your transmission would try to please you by shifting faster, and retaining higher revs. There are things you can't tell from a simple test-drive with modern vehicles, unfortunately.
    Trust me, it is healthy for your vehicles to once in a while rev it to the near red lines. Ask any mechanics, it helps to flush out bad stuff in the power-train.
    Do it safely, of course.

    Let us not forget that the transmission of CX9 is from Aisin, who supplies transmissions to Lexus/Toyota. The standard gear shifting time is 0.5 second (not very fast), but it was set to feel seamless and comfortable. (source: CX9 WorkShop manual). If you really care about this, there is an auto-manual mode on CX9 which can't be found on Pilot.
  • Numbers don't lie...I hardly believe that the Pilot feels peppier or feels torquier then the CX-9. Less power and more weight do not equal to a quicker, peppier, torquier vehicle, but as said before "to each it's own" I will take my CX-9 over the Pilot anyday, thank you!

    Hey, its alright. I know the stats but stats don't change perception. Even my wife said he liked the CX9 over the Pilot b/c she felt the cx9 didnt want to take off when she tapped the pedal vs the Pilot and my Altima, which leap forward. So 2 difference drivers had a similar take on the same car. To use you parlance, you can take your cx9. No one is suggesting otherwise. :confuse:

    All factors considered and knowing ourselves, there is a good chance we'll sell the auto in 5 years, so considering the total cost difference to us today is $1000 but the depreciation is less on a Honda, it just makes sense for us.
  • Ceric,
    Good point about the 20 not 8 ft. Like I said I was just guessing, good to know you have the actual figures. Even knowing this, which I DID know when I made the purchase (the brain forgets much after 6 months), it was not enough to sway me away from all the other great features of the Pilot. Evidently the same goes for the many other Pilot buyers.

    I imagine it all comes down to HOW important the braking issue is. For me and my family, who rarely travel highways anyway, it just wasn't enough.
  • I agree. Its a great point and a number to go by.

    But its also why I had to test drive it again and warn the salesman that I would purposely be slamming in the brakes, God forbid a kid ran out in front, to simulate scenarios.

    One note though....we still take defensive driving although we dont need the point reduction. It does pay to drive defensively, as you never know what that 'idiot' may do!
  • My wife and I both were in need of new cars this year - she driving a 9 year old Sienna, and me a 10 year old Saab 9-3. We tested and liked both the Pilot and CX-9 - each for different reasons. Me, cold and analytical stat comparison; she, emotion and feel. Upshot - we got one of each. Her the Pilot, me the CX-9. $ for $, I think the CX-9 was the better buy, but ultimately we'll see what the residual values are for 3-year ownership. On paper they look like a tie for annual cost of ownership for both - with a higher OTD price for the Pilot, but probably a little higher residual value. Given that, we both are driving safe, reliable (and in my case FUN) cars - with a TCO of about $10K per year. TCO is a great way to analyze a buying decision, and so is being happy with what you drive. If cars didn't make us happy, we'd probably all drive something a lot cheaper. A mid-range Ford Focus costs about $6k per year.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Modern transmission learns your driving style. Period.

    Not all. My Accord does not, and is a 2006 model. It doesn't have an adaptive transmission. Period. :)

    Have a great day,

  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    A warning to those who plan to buy Highlanders....
    Highlander (V6) uses a very special tire size
    Check if you don't believe me.
    There is only ONE tire available for that size, which is the OE tire from Bridgestone Dueller as well (same as CX9). - - - - - atio=55&diameter=19&x=12&y=8

    However, CX9 uses 245/50R20 or 245/60R18. Both sizes have many other alternatives.
    Why does this matter?
    The price for Bridgestone Dueler is about $175, which is a ripoff ('cause it is bad!) In comparision, Yokohama's Parada Spec-X is a much better all-around tire for only $159. (review scores of 4.8 vs 8.4!!!) Spec-X is available for CX9's 20" or 18" wheels.

    Check any owners of Highlanders and CX9s, they will tell you that this tire, Dueler, performs extremely poorly on snow (even light one), and is so-so in rain and on dry pavements. Check for owners' reviews on it.

    If you go with Highlander, you will have ZERO choice but to replace it again with the same lousy tires and they are not cheap either for their performance.
    My friend replaced his for $1000+ for a new set. I got my Spec-X for only about $800+. Price difference may be small, but you will be getting lousy tires for that kind of money and you have no other alternatives (unless you change sizes).

    Please take that into consideration.
    Make an educated decision to buy Highlander is why I am posting this info for you. :)
  • Base Highlanders use 245/65R17 that pretty common.
  • I disagree with you. A lot of Highlander owners are successfully changing to 255-55-19 tire sizes for the 19" rims. I successfully changed to a 17" rim from Discount tire and have many tires to choose from, too. We are not stuck with 245-55-19.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    to stevayz:
    >> Base Highlanders use 245/65R17 that pretty common.
    I thought I mentioned "Highlander V6", didn't I?

    to pjcrouse:
    Yes, one can always up size or down size your tires. I do that many times in the past. However, how many people dare to do that? Most owners are naive about automobiles. If you read the manual completely, I am sure you will find a statement like "Toyota recommend the same tire size ....." (to that effect).
    Besides, places like Costco "refuses" to replace tires of a different size for you.
    Also, your odometer will be off slightly, which may be small in your case.

    Anyway, just a piece of useful information whether you like it or not.
    The fact remains true.
    Toyota uses a strange size tire as OE tires. I wonder why?
  • to ceric:

    It might be a revelation for you but Base Highlanders come in many flavors:

    V6 FWD
    V6 AWD
    I4 FWD
    I4 AWD

    as a matter of fact all 2008 and 2009 Highlanders trims were available only with V6. I4 was introduced only for 2010 model year. I personally own 2008 HL Base V6 AWD that I purchased in summer of 2007 and couldn't be happier with it. Since it uses 245/65R17 tire size I don't see any issue with tires when time comes to replace them.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    Sorry. I stand corrected. Not a Highlander expert here.

    You're right. In that case, I was referring to all Highlander with 19" wheels.
    (Highlander Sports/Limited/Hybrid)
    From my previous post, I guess it was very clear that I was talking about the 19" tires, base V6 or not. Any Highlander with 19" wheels comes with tires of strange size that only Mchelin carries.
  • mdhuttonmdhutton Posts: 195
    Wrong. Any HL with 19" wheels came with 245 / 55 R 19 tires. Michelin does not make this size at this time.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    Typo. Not Michelin, but Bridgestone.
    245/55R19 is a very unique tire size, which was the main point.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    mdx 255-55-18 lots of choices starting at $118

    pilot 245-65-17 lots starting at $127

    go figure.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    Make you wonder why an automaker chose a special wheel/tire combo so that there is only 1 replacement choice but to change sizes of your tires, which the automaker highly does not recommend. Sounds like a "conspiracy"?!
    Think: Printer-Ink business model.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    I love a good conspiracy. Let's see -- Some toyota executives loser nephew has the sole distribution rights for that exact size tire. He lives on a beach in the caribbean and has direct deposit for the money he makes for doing nothing. ;)
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    You certainly had quite an interesting conspiracy theory... :)

    Facts are simple:
    - The OE tires are expensive to replace
    - The OE tires are lousy performers
    - The OE tires have few alternatives on the market
    (especially in case of Highlander 19" wheels)
    If anyone can tell me why Toyota/Mazda chose that tire, I will rest my case.
  • I guess Toyota wants to sell more Highlander base models that come with common size tire.
  • I also test drove the 2010 pilot Vs the CX-9 back to back.
    Loved the CX-9, Hated the Pilot. When driving the Pilot on 30- 40mph roads the engine keeps shutting down cylinders to save fuel. I noticed this immediately when coasting to a stop sign. If I had to drive this SUV for 3 years it would make me crazy!
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    You didn't say why you noticed it. Was the VCM system making noise, or vibrating, or anything like that? Or were you just going off of the ECO light? I'd love for my car to use half the cylinders when coasting.

    I've driven a Pilot; it was nice but its not a vehicle I'd buy. Neither was the CX-9 though, so I don't really have a horse in the race - I'm just curious!

  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Yeah, I wondered the same thing. Personally I love seeing the light for the VCM come on and it has absolutely zero noticeable impact on the engine. I presumed the real issue is what some others have posted which is the perception that the engine is sluggish in that range. It has one fewer gears than much of the competition. I had the same experience when I test drove it, which is why I almost didn't get it (until a month later after having test drove most of the competition I decided nothing else had all the features I wanted). So I was resigned to just an "ok" drive. The upside is I was pleasantly surprised. Once I figured out the "feel" of the Honda drive and response I didn't have any sluggishness issues at all and now find it quite responsive and certainly more than adequate for any need I have in a family SUV. It is definitely not as nice a drive as the CX-9 was when I tested it, with the CX-9 far-and-away being the best in class in that department (at least as of my survey 1.5 years ago).
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