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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • I was considering a loaded 09 CX-9 GT AWD but ended up buying a Subaru Tribeca Ltd and don't regret. The interior materials is of much better quality and it handles much better as well. Not to mention a real AWD system. There is a tad less room in the back seats but not too bad. There is lots of room in the front, I'm 6-4 and it is definitely one of the most comfortable cars I've driven. 09 models are missing bluetooth but that can be easily corrected with an aftermarket system. IMO there are side visibility issues in the CX-9 and their blind-spot monitoring system is there for that exact reason. I liked the Pilot but my wife was not very excited about its looks so it was a no-go. Highlander is too mainstream to my taste, but it is just a personal thingy.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    The interior materials is of much better quality and it handles much better as well

    In regards to interior materials, it is a matter of opinion of which I highly disagree. As far as handling goes, the CX-9 is far superior. The Tribeca has more then its fair share of body roll.

    Not to mention a real AWD system.

    If by real you mean 100% all the time, then yes. There is nothing fake about the CX-9's AWD system. In fact, the design of the CX-9's AWD system is to help the tires last longer and assist in fuel economy. There is no need for 100% AWD in the dry summer months, now is there?

    IMO there are side visibility issues in the CX-9 and their blind-spot monitoring system is there for that exact reason.

    The BSMS is regarded as an upscale safety feature. While every car has blind spots, the Tribeca has many of it's own, including the very large C pillars. To each their own....

    Did you get a 7-pass Tribeca?

    The Tribeca is really considered a flop. It is not large enough to compete with other 7-pass CUV's and does not offer the pizazz for a 5-pass CUV. It's really stuck in between which is really too bad. It's a good car, but, falls short in many ways hence the reflection of poor sales.
  • I don't disagree that CX-9 is a more rational choice than the Tribeca, but to my taste Tribeca is a at least on par in all categories apart from interior space, and even in that category it is not a total loser. I don't feel much body roll in the Tribeca, and somehow CX-9 didn't feel that connected to the road despite all raving reviews about its handling as there was too much understeer feeling to it. As for materials I was referring to the top-of-the line models for both cars, Subaru has a more luxury feel (and smell too), there is also no cheesy looking plastic-wood as in the CX-9. There is a general bias against Subaru as a brand, so most ppl don't even bother test-driving one which is a mistake I think.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    As for materials I was referring to the top-of-the line models for both cars, Subaru has a more luxury feel (and smell too), there is also no cheesy looking plastic-wood as in the CX-9.

    Again, I guess it is a difference of opinion. The Tribeca has silver cheesy plastic.

    There is a general bias against Subaru as a brand, so most ppl don't even bother test-driving one which is a mistake I think.

    Subaru is on fire my friend! Their sales are through the roof, as a company. The Tribeca is the lone wolf that gets no love. I'm a part of the largest Subaru dealer on the east coast, and cannot sell a Tribeca to save my life. Forester's, Impreza's, Legacy's are all hot commodities.

    All in all, the Tribeca is a very good CUV, I just think there are many other better choices out there. What matters is what you think, since you are the one who drives it.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Tribeca's appear to be overpriced next to the new outback. If Subaru put a 3-4k rebate on the tribeca, you wouldn't have much trouble moving them. ;) I do like them and depending on the overall new car market in 2011 will give it a serious look-see. Lots of new stuff by then. Grand Cherokee/Sorento/Explorer on my lease list. But if subaru has the best lease terms, it will make my decision easier.
  • 09s have a 3k rebate right now, not too many left though. 2010 is basically the same car with some upgrades in the premium segment sucg as HID and bluetooth.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Maybe 5k rebates would move the rest off the lot for aviboy97. :)
  • Subaru made several mistakes with the original Tribeca including front styling and the premium-gas thirsty engine, that made many people look away, myself including. The current model has those issues corrected with a better engine that takes regular gas and mainstream fascia. Yes, many other cars look better on paper, but in reality all those features may not matter that much in real life. As you say I'm may be a little biased now that I have one, but I think it is a shame that such a good car gets so little attention from general public.
  • I am currently reading thru the comments of this forum & hoped you could point me to or answer my dilemna -

    My previous AWD/4WD experience: 87 Subaru Turbowagon MT, 92 Toyota 4Runner AT, 98 Ford Expediton, 00 Chevy Tahoe, 04 Honda Pilot, 05 Infiniti G35X. In the usual VA, NC, SC, TN driving arena I prefer the additional traction of AWD/4WD systems to handle in order of priority:
    (1) heavy rain/wet roads
    (2) aggressive dry road driving
    (3) muddy camp/park roads w/ BSA
    (4) occasional snow/ice roads
    (5) occasional over beach trips in the OBX.

    I need room for 2 adults and 3 growing boys + gear; WITH DECENT MPG as I will use this vehicvle for 30K+ mi/yr business. I realy like the Pilot's AWD system and loved G35X ATESSA AWD with RWD bias. Currently trying to find best bang for buck FWD/AWD system for family "wagon" and am looking at Hyundai Santa Fe ($), Toyota HL ($$), Acura MDX ($$$), amongst others (Subaru Tribeca, but relatively hi $ and low MPG). Cargo area behind front seats matters, but don't necessarily need 3rd row.

    Recent reads on Toy's HL AWD system have me scared of this system and web information is lacking on it. I really like the Borgwarner ITM 3e electromag actuation for responsiveness and decent MPG. What's the difference betw/ 04 Pilot's and 08+ Acura MDX SH-AWD? I think SH-AWD is perfered but its hi $$ and lower MPG is a big trade off. PLEASE HELP!
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    You are going to need a decent size vehicle to meet your needs. And you want awd. With those conditions-- mpg shouldn't be a big priority because whatever you choose will be within a fairly narrow number range. Probably only a few hundred $'s a year between best and worst if you stick with similarly equipped models. And don't go just by the govnt numbers. Around town everything is going to be 15-18. Hwy 19-22. My murano gets 17 in town and 25 on the hwy but that's too small for you. Check out 4 runners-pathfinders-borregos- explorers. Wouldn' focus so much on mpg. Get what you feel meets your needs best. Some of these trucks have nice rebates that will offset a lot of lower mpg's.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    We are smart not to stock too many ;)
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    You sly dog. The perception of limited availability makes me want one even more. :cry:
  • Toyota HL AWD Hybrid - that will get you what you want. if u can afford it, Lexus R330 hybrid.
  • CX-9 has made the list again:
    link title

    Pilot and Highlander are conspicuously missing....

    SUVs Under $35,000
    Crossovers also dominate our next category, and bumping up the price by $10K nets the buyer increased cabin and storage space without sacrificing carlike performance. With seating for seven and surprisingly sophisticated handling for a vehicle its size, the Mazda CX-9 is a repeat pick and perennial favorite at this price point. The Volvo XC60 is a new crossover from the Swedish carmaker known for safety and offers an innovative collision-avoidance system for stop-and-go city traffic as well as solid driving feel and a dash of European flair.

    With room for eight passengers and poised composure on the road, the Chevrolet Traverse is another GM hit in the crossover category. It should be noted that its corporate cousins, the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, share the same platform — and by default the accolades for the Traverse.
  • There is no need for 100% AWD in the dry summer months, now is there?

    IMHO when brisk acceleration is required (say at a 90 degree intersection to a high speed thoroughfare) even in dry summer conditions, but especially in anything less than that, having 4 wheels to help you pounce out into traffic is vastly superior and safer than chirping 2wd (even w/ TRACS) and torque steer. Other aggressive driving conditions also warrant AWD over 2WD - consider other dry surfaces than smooth pavement, i.e. dirt, gravel, sand, leaves, etc. H2O is not the only factor.

    While I personnaly prefer the Tribeca's AWD system to that of the Grand Touring CX-9's, overall, I prefer the CX-9's spaciousness and total package. The CX-9's interior also edges out the Tribeca's, reflecting upscale Europsort interiors (if you like that better). It's a shame the Tribeca isn't a little bigger, because in my wet test drives it stuck to the road like a magnet.

    Finally, we plan to purchase a midsize CUV/SUV by year end and have settled down to the 2010 Grand Touring CX-9 vs. the 2010 Toyota 4Runner Limited w/ X-REAS given the multitasking requirements our family/work requires (see post #468). Granted they are fairly different vehicles at different price points (CX-9 + $5K = 4Runner Limited), but in a gut feel True Cost to Own, the tank like build, flexible 4WD options and believe it or not the better MPG of the 4Runner (17/22 vs 16/21), Toyota has the edge right now, even though the CX-9 edged it out in handling (but not by as much as you would think for a CUV vs. an SUV). ;)
  • Yup, Tribeca's RWD bias helps during hard acceleration, also it helps to reduce understeer in hard turns. Most ppl, however, don't care about that...
  • I saw this too but, as its title implies, its a GUIDE. Having repeatedly driven all those vehicles in that category, I have to disagree with the guide's findings.

  • True - and by all means, no one should buy a car just because a guide said so. however, most reputable "guides" select cars based on test drives/reviews from relatively-expert persons which actually makes them worthwhile and gives the lay public a sense of which cars will most likely best suit the needs of most (notice i don't say all) people. Of course everyone should test drive before they ultimately buy a car, but a guide can give you some choices of where to start that search.
  • Quite true.

    At the start of our search, we read the guides and our Pilot was furthest from the top of our list. But it happened to be the one we drove first. We didnt at all leave the test drive thinking, oh I love it.

    After driving the Traverse, Acadia, CX-9, and Highlander, we came back to the Pilot, which was surprising to us. Having read the guides again and doing a lot of searching, as well as coming to realize what goals/purpose our car would serve, that was the clincher. If the decision was based on impulse, I probably might ahve gone with the others but we all felt these cars were all very much the same with little differences among 3 row SUVs
  • Just wanted to get some insight from others..we currently have a 2004 Pilot EX-L. Lots of miles. Looking to upgrade to another Pilot (touring) or the 2010 CX-9. Not sure which way to go...afraid I may miss the space in the Pilot (2 small kids) but want some of the bells and whistles (moonroof, power liftgate) without breaking the bank.

    Thanks in advance!
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    I have three boys (1, 10, 15) and we never feel cramped up in our CX-9. I love that it seats 7 passengers and the third row is actually a usable space for adults. It drives like a car as opposed to a SUV (higher center of gravity), plus it just beats out the Pilot in looks (but this is subjective). Either way you can't go wrong, but you will definately enjoy the CX-9 better if you like a sporty feel and you definately will not miss the little extra space that Pilot provides over the CX-9.
  • tearlachtearlach Posts: 9
    edited August 2010
    I have a 2004 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ NAV with roughly 95,000 miles and purchased a 2010 Mazda CX-9 GT AWD (after market NAV) in late Dec-2009. Paid $37, 213 OTD with a little icing. I suggest you test drive the new Pilot vs CX-9 as both my wife and I like the much sportier handling, shiftable auto, AWD and great brakes of the CX-9. Third row room and access is substantially better; sliding second row is a nice touch to accommodate my fast growing 4, 12, 12 year old kids. Mazda's AWD is great in wet or snow, maybe not quite as nice as Honda's AWD system, but certainly adequate. The level of poor man's luxury features in the CX-9 is impressive and we figured we'd have to pay $5- 15,000 more for a similar vehicle - see Acura MDX as a more expensive alternative.

    The newer Pilots may have slightly more cargo room, but the CX-9's seating comfort, handling (20 inch wheels w/ Michelin Latitudes - much better than the OEM tires), braking, Lexus grade 6 speed transmission and even nice interior layout make us happy with our decision. The Pilot's more of a truck, the CX-9 is a true crossover - I just wish we could do better than the 21 - 22 MPG I get on trips with my heavy foot.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    edited August 2010
    The Pilot's more of a truck, the CX-9 is a true crossover

    Both are true crossovers; the Pilot is based on the Odyssey, which stems from the Accord. The only way the Pilot is more of a truck is in exterior design (and perhaps the middling fuel economy).

    Lexus grade 6 speed transmission

    Lexus-grade? Help me out with that one. :)
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    edited August 2010
    Lexus grade 6 speed transmission

    Lexus-grade? Help me out with that one

    The CX-9 has an Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission which also makes transmissions for Toyota and Lexus. Aside from using the recommended by Mazda JS3309 fluid for the transmission. You can also use Toyota's T-4 Transmission fluid that is widely used by many Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    edited August 2010
    Ok; I just wasn't really sure what you meant by Lexus-grade. Saying an Aisin transmission makes more sense to me. Aisin makes or has recently made transmissions for General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Audi, VW, Volvo, Hyundai among others, so saying "Lexus" didn't really help me understand your point other than for name-dropping purposes. :shades:

    *Yes, Toyota owns a majority stake in Aisin stock. :)
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    It wasn't me who initially said the comment, I just figured I'd chime in. :shades:
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    While I would not say the CX-9 has a "lexus like" transmission, the Aisin unit in the CX-9 is one of the segments best. Smooth shifting, and durable.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Oops, my-bad.

    I get frustrated when people do that, then I up-and did it myself! :blush:
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    No harm no fowl. ;)
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    No harm no fowl.

    That's a good example of where spell check fails. I think you meant foul. :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
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