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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    LMAO! :P

    You got me! :blush:
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    RE: your comments comapring the CX-9 to the Pilot, you are half right. It's pretty clear the CX-9 is a more responsive vehicle. Looks are subjective. Some people like the boxy look of the Pilot more, some hate it. But its hard to justify some of your other statements. The Pilot is a "true" crossover in every sense of the definition. It is built on a car frame and suspension system, has car-like handling and gets big-car-like MPG -- slightly better than the CX-9 for that matter. It's also even easier to access the 3rd row, which is roomier and has capacity for 3, than the CX-9. It even has the same slide-forward feature you attribute to the CX-9. The Pilot also has better tech, including a vastly suerpior nav system.

    I really like the CX-9. Great vehicle. The Pilot is great too, just different. If you want capacity, good cabin tech, okay MPG for size or like the "classic" SUV look, the Pilot is the choice. If you love sporty handling and less utilitarian interior, the CX-9 is the choice. It's really hard to justify the Highlander as the best choice compared to these two on any crieria, unless price is no object and you're getting the Hybrid even though you will never make up the cost difference versus fuel bill in your lifetime of use.
  • Citivas is on point.

    Just put in a few hundred miles on my Pilot today. 18.5 combined mpg, seated 2 in front, 2 kids in cars seats in middle with an adult between them, plus a stroller, and adult in the 3rd row.

    Just yesterday we were parked across from our best friend's CX-9. Sure its sportier looking, but I really didnt care for the cramped, cambered-in rear shoulder area/ ceiling in the 3rd row.

    Our car is a tool. If we wanted a sports car, I'd get that.

    And as far as fuel.....if Honda ever puts that Diesel Pilot back into consideration, we'd jump. As already noted, the TOyota Hybrid did not impress, even though on paper, it seemed like the best choice.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    I agree. Citivas is right on the money. I own a CX-9 but work for a Honda dealership. I chose the CX-9 over the Pilot (even though I could have gotten a comparably equipped Pilot for a little less money for being an employee) because of two things.

    1. Pilot is utilitarian at the cost of sporty in all aspects.
    2. I cannot stand that dumb ugly front end.

    Both of these however are subjective reasons not to go with a Pilot over a CX-9.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Both of these however are subjective reasons not to go with a Pilot over a CX-9.

    Many people buy based on subjectivity. We are all entitled to our opinions!
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    For 2011, Mazda has increased the fuel economy of the CX-9 to 17 city / 24 hwy for FWD models, and 16 city / 22 hwy for AWD models. They will also be equipped with new 18" and 20" wheel designs.
  • buyer101buyer101 Posts: 80
    Since fuel efficiency is based on a number of factors it would be nice to know what Mazda changed to achieve better fuel efficiency. Not sure if a couple of MPG here and there tilts a buying decision, but good to see that Mazda is doing something about it.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    I am also interested in knowing what Mazda did to raise MPG of 2011 models.
    The 2007 CX9s have 3.5L engines. Owners have reported much better MPG than later models with 3.7L variants. For 3.7L engines, Mazda revised the intake manifold and programming. Interesting to know what Mazda does this time for 2011.

    If the 2011 has the DI (direct injection) engine, it would be a very nice improvement to the CX9s, not just MPG, but for torque and horsepower. One can always hope... :)
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    As far as I know, no DI.
  • I can't see any on Northern California roads.
    I started researching SUVs only recently. I went to blogs, ranking, reviews. It seems CX-9 wins hands down in the category of Toyota Highlander, Pilot, and Escape (throw MDX in the mix if you like).
    With CX-9 winning so comfortable, I presumed they would be all over the roads, parking lots. Not so, I could hardly find a few. The SUV space here is dominated predominantly by Highlander and Escape, with good no of Pilots and MDX's. CX-9'sare so out of the picture that it begs the question, why the discrepancy..There must be some reason fro the shall we say poor sales of Mazda CX-9s. Anyone care to enlighten me.
  • valdemarvaldemar Posts: 14
    Because it is Mazda and not Toyota or Honda. Having said that I do see quite a few cx9s here in SoCal..
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    The reality is that Highlander is very competitive vehicle and gets on average 2MPG better fuel economy then CX9 which is major plus with today's gas prices. I'm not going to go over advantages or shortcomings since this is endless topic. Make sure that you test drive one before making any decisions. I live in Ohio and noticed that Highlanders almost never have been advertized by the Toyota dealers in the auto section of the local paper, that makes me believe that they do sell like a hot cakes. I got my base AWD 2008 model with 3 row seats back in 2007 for $26K+ tax and recently friend of mine bough used 2008 FWD with 2 row seats and 25000 miles for $24.5K and considers himself lucky.
  • valdemarvaldemar Posts: 14
    2MPG advantage? We are talking about ~$300 savings per 15k annual miles or $25/month. Would not be enough for me to consider a car that 5 of my neighbors already have, but surely there is enough people who don't care about that.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    edited June 2011
    $300 a year makes $1500 for 5 years and so on, not a chump change. And this is just one of the decision points , there are obviously plenty more, just count HLs at your neighbors garages. If you want to be different and have extra cash burning your pocket then buy something else in spite of. When I bough mine, new generation just came out and no one had it, my decision was based only on practicality and dependability. Now after 4 years owning a HL I have no regrets.
  • valdemarvaldemar Posts: 14
    It was a smart choice, and it sounds like that was what you were after.
  • Let me start off by saying I have a 2009 CX-9. Summer of 2009 I test drive a Ford Flex, GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Veracruz, Honda Pilot and Toyota HIghlander. My priorties were smoothness, power, performance and handling and comfort. CX-9 won hands down. Following were Honda Pilot (noisy and weak brakes) Ford Flex (wierd styling for me), Hyundai Santa Fe (value leader but too small), GMC Acadia/Chevrolet Traverse (too exepnsive and no inventory as GM was shut down) and finally the Toyota Highlander (too bland and too isolated from driving experience).
  • wdhytewdhyte Posts: 92
    wow, that's funny...wife and I hit almost the same batch of vehicles during the summer of 09 too. I really wanted to get the Ford Flex until I drove it...loved all the roominess (my being 6'1 @250# and wife being 5'11 (quite a bit lighter ;-)) was GREAT BUT, it had all the cornering and zoom of a cinder block. I was seriously bummed. The GMs were all the same, the Saturn was the same (and closed up shop about 45 days later) so we added the Mazda in the mix and were amazed and still are. I love driving it and for trips it's fine. W/the 20" wheels its noisy around town and you don't get the best ride as we all know but it was (IS) the best of the lot IMHO. My only disappointment to date is the number of squeaks and rattles it has developed rather quickly. Oh yeah, and the crappy BOSE sound system...BOSE just isn't as good as it used to be (we have the grand touring w/NAV or back seat stuff). I'd but it again.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,622
    We bought the '10 GT in November. I agree the Bose sound system is poor as the '03 Yukon Denali Bose system blew it into the weeds. My wife asked me why I didn't upgrade the sound system!!!!

    The drive is the best in the category, period, the End! Since I didn't get the GPS and RE system, I was wondering if the audio quality would be any better.

  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    edited July 2011
    Why not many CX9 on the road?

    Many people are obsessive with "reliability".
    They choose among Toyota/Honda exclusively.
    I got asked many times, "Why did you buy Mazda?" :mad:
    For the record, I only had two very minor issues (taken care of at oil changes)
    from 3 and half yrs of ownership. That is decent reliability in my book,
    though my wife's Prius is issue-free, but it had more than THREE recalls.

    On the Highlanders. True, it is probably 2mpg better than CX9. However, consider how much more you pay for the Highlander, comparably equipped.
    If you drive 12000/yr, assuming 20 vs 18mpg, the difference is only 67gallons,
    i.e. 67x$4 = $260 yr. If you pay $2000 more for your Highlander, that is enough to cover 8 yrs of mpg differences, w/o considering interest....
    Not to mention that Toyota charge more for comparable parts and maintenance. I know because my wife has a Prius. I receive coupons from both all the times. :)

    Oh, did I mention the trashy/cheapo 1-piece 3rd row seat of Highlanders?
    It is a joke, really.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    Price difference between cx9 and HL is a moot point. Depends on timing, location, your negotiation abilities and trim/features you want. In 2007 I paid $26K+tax for 2008 Base with AWD and 3 seat rows. I don't think you can get comparable cx9 for this much. HL also has higher resale then cx9 so don't forget to include it in your math. BTW starting from 2011 model year HL has split 3rd row. 2011 model started to be produced back in august of 2010.
  • 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.
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