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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Yeah, if I didn't need the third row there are a whole lot of other CUV's I would consider... I get that some people don't need it though, which I guess is the market the Highlander is targeting since their middle second row and third row are pretty bad. For me, I use it literally every day so it is essential.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    edited July 2011
    1. I've owned Hondas and Toyotas for long time and can tell you a dirty secret - no one buys these cars for looks.

    2. 0-60 number tells a lot, if you live in busy city try to merge on the freeway on slower vehicle. 0.7 sec makes a big difference.

    3. In spite of its sporty persona, the 2008 Mazda CX-9 ends up with the slowest slalom speed (58.4 mph) due to its undefeatable stability control system's relatively low threshold of intervention. - -2008-toyota-highlander.html

    4. I got a third row in HL since it is nice to have and I used it few times. I have family of 4 and wanted to have third row to carry my kid's friends when needed. If I'd need to carry more then 5 people on regular basis I'd get a minivan, would be much more comfortable then any CUV on the market. Even now I think that HL is bigger then I'd need, I liked first gen HL size more.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    this is something new to me, what's bad with HL second row? Do you own a HL?
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Our other car is a minivan. But whenever the whole family is traveling anywhere together or on trips, we universaly all prefer the Pilot as the main family vehicle. And we could care less about being seen in a minvan or not, so we don't avoid it for stigma. So I would say it is an opinion that a minivan is more comfortable. That's certainly not our experience.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I don't own a HL because I didn't like the seating or the nav system. But I test drove one 5 times three years ago, I test drove the current model 2 times this year, my in-laws own one and I have driven it over 1,000 miles, and I have had one twice in the last three years as a rental vehicle.

    My problem with the middle second row seat (I specified middle seat only in that row) is it’s only half a seat. It's not comfortable for an adult and it is too small for a full car seat and too hard for a little kid to reach under the seat to buckle the seatbelt. In the interest of mimicking a minivan and letting people remove it they sacrificed the quality of the seat (if I had needed that feature I could have gotten another minivan). So it really only becomes useful for a kid who is out of a car seat but not full grown. And because you can only fit full tethered car seats on one of the two side second row seats (too hard to constantly take them in/out of the third row or put the kids in them there and buckle them), that means the middle second row seat is an important location for adults. In our Pilo, we probably have an adult sitting in the middle second row at least twice a week on average plus on long car trips that are hundreds of miles. Just not realistic in the HL.

    Some people only need limited seating so this is not an issue for them. But for those that need more, the HL seating is much less versatile than the Pilot which can literally seat 8 adults – the third row is night-and-day more roomy than the HL.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    That's why we have all these choices, get the car that suits your needs the best. Nobody ever complained to me about middle seat on the middle row. Plenty of times I had 3 people seating on the middle row for long duration. Middle seat makes something close to the bench seat out of middle row. I'd say it depends on adult size. 3 normal size adults fit there without a problem or discomfort, pretty much the same as family size sedan second row, even a bit wider.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    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.

    While the Highlander is slightly faster to 60, it is equal to the CX-9 in the quarter mile. It gets destroyed in the corners. With every media outlet that has tested the road manners of any 3 row crossover, the CX-9 repeatedly beats the Highlander, and every other non luxury 3 row CUV on the market. Nothing has changes in the 4 years the car has been on the market.

    Here is a quote from a March 2011 comparo from Motor Trend in regards to the Highlanders handling: "The faster you go, the more this thing wobbles."

    In contrast, the same article praised the CX-9: "As a high speed, canyon-carving seven-seater, the CX-9 is severely gifted. It actually inspires confidence when you push, quite unlike the rest of the field"

    I'm not trying to bash the Highlander in any way. It is a really good car, but lets not call it what it's not...which is a better handler than the CX-9.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Thank you aviboy...precisely my point!
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Luckyseven, let me let you in a dirty little secret too...I have been a Honda Certified Parts Proffesional for about 12 years now and have worked for a few dealers including my current position with an auto group that includes the following:
    Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ford, Lincoln, GM, Chevrolet, Buick, Honda, Toyota and Scion.

    I certainly consider looks for my purchases among other considerations. Did you notice that I own a Mazda CX-9 which we (the Auto Group) do not carry as one of our makes? Precisely my point...I was not impressed witht he offerings all these makes provided in the CUV segment...including (again) the ho-hum boring and ugly looking HL (again, my opinion). However, given that you say that " no one buys these cars for looks" I can see why your choice was to go with an HL.
  • luckysevenluckyseven Posts: 134
    There is a little more add to it... I owned a Protege years ago and my customer experience was really bad with it, what a money pit. I also owned Civic, Accord(s), Camry, and HL and will not likely ever go back to Mazda. Even if Toyotas and Hondas are not the prettiest cars on the road they do deliver.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Now here is a statement I agree with you on. Although my CX-9 has had 88,xxx problem-free miles (knocking on wood).
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    "Get burned once, shame on you. Get burned twice, shame on me". I really cannot blame you for not wanting to invest in Mazda again, however, your issue was not the norm. The Protege was a really good car.

    All car companies have cars that do break down from time to time, even Honda's Toyota's, Mazda's etc....Working in the industry, I can attest to every brand of vehicle go through my service department and needing a boat load of work.

    On a side note, my 2005 Mazda6 is around 80,000 trouble free miles.
  • Isn't this so often the case. The genius marketing team turns a half-useful product to successful must-have, or an incompetent marketing team fails a talented engineering team.
    Latter seemed to have happened in the case of Mazda. Engineering department did a great job besting Pilot and Highlander in almost every aspect (per major reviewers), but all I, a representative of the ignorant masses, knew about Mazda before I started delving deeper, was a stupid "zoom zoom" catchphrase. Noway as a prospective buyer would I have ever known that CX-9 is arguably better (let alone close) to it's Honda and Toyota competitors. I wouldn't even know the intent behind "zoom zoom", apparently they are trying to convey that Mazdas are sportier and faster than most other cars.
    Mazda should seriously think about dumping their marketing team if not the upper management too, considering the disparity between on paper ratings and on the road presence.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    edited July 2011
    Mazda should seriously think about dumping their marketing team if not the upper management too, considering the disparity between on paper ratings and on the road presence

    Mazda has a new marketing partner. Their new tag line is "We build Mazda's. What do you drive?" They have a new slew of commercials out as well.

    In any event, Mazda has a difficult task when it comes to marketing because they do not have the marketing budget to go toe to toe with Honda, Toyota, GM, Ford and Hyundai. So, Mazda relys on the Internet, word of mouth and owner loyalty.

    Mazda build a great product, but, they do have trouble brining attention to the brand...
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I can’t speak for other areas but at least around where I live their dealer network is also part of the problem for Mazda. For one, they have fewer dealership around by far than Toyota or Honda which factors into both convenience once your servicing your vehicle, consumer choice, if you don’t have a good experience with a particular local dealer, and competitive pricing when shopping. In the same range of a 12 mile radius where I can chose from 4 Honda or Toyota dealers there is 1 Mazda dealer and it is a small, shabby dealership in a building that looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 1970’s, and not in a direction I would ever have reason to travel unless going to the dealership. And three years ago I went to the trouble to specifically negotiate for all three vehicles mentioned here – Pilot, Highlander, CX-9 – to see what kind of pricing I could get in comparison to the “real world” pricing posts I was reading here and other online tools. With Honda I quickly had multiple offers within the range of the deals I was reading online. The local Toyota dealerships were all over the map with at least one being as competitive as online deals and at least one being ridiculously high. But I only had one local choice for Mazda and they were not very competitive. Consequently I was able to get a fully loaded Pilot Touring for thousands less than the comparably equipped CX-9. In the end price wasn’t my only deciding factor. But the lack of dealer options and the un-impressiveness of the Mazda dealer definitely was a huge check against it. That combined with the Nav system collectively probably killed it for me.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Mazda's are great vehicles. The lack of marketing can be viewed in many different ways depending on personal opinions. My take is that marketing money goes into engineering/design making Mazda's (IMHO) one of the best handling non-luxury vehicles. This doesn't mean I agree with the minimal or lack of marketing for their line-up because I think that if more people ventured outside of the norm (Honda, Toyota) square they would realize what an awesome ride these Mazda's provide. I kid you not, my very first Mazda was a 2006 Mazda5 "Micro-van" and that little thing was fun to drive and handled better then my 2003 Honda Accord coupe sitting on Tokico shocks and Eibach springs. I was so surprised at how agile and precise that little wagon was compared to my Accord and that was on stock suspension brought to you by Mazda.

    Anyway, if Mazda can spend a little more resources on marketing and their dealer network and customer service but still remain true to their "Zoom-Zoom" motto like they have been doing so. I bet more people would make the change and never look back at Honda and Toyota.
  • After taking the Highlander and CX 9 for a test drive today I was leaning towards the Highlander until reading this thread lol. I know this is an old thread, just curious if anything has changed on the Highlander 's braking/ turning radius ?

    What the CX 9 has going for it is the price, I can get a fully loaded Grand Touring for 35k which I think is a good price. ( Since I'm a Costco member we think might get it down to 34).
    I wouldn't say I noticed a huge differnce in the turning radius.

    The Toyota seemed like it had higher end seats compared to CX 9. As my husband said, it felt like a higher end car, compared to the CX 9. Also, I guess we the minority that thinks the Highlander looks better than the CX 9. :P
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    Also, I guess we the minority that thinks the Highlander looks better than the CX 9.

    Clearly, you haven't seen the new updated 2013 it under images....
  • I just read the 2013 will be slightly bigger, and of course other design changes too. Also they are speculating Mazda is dropping the v6, in favor of a 4 cylinder . :confuse:

    My husband and I are now convinced the 2012 cx 9 is the way to go. I 'm loving the way it handles turns, and seems like a great transition from my Subaru Outback (cx 9 does drive like a car!)

    The red one I have my eye on is beautiful. I want to stick to the 2012, sounds like too many changes to the 2013. Also the 2012 will fit better in our garage...highlander is a little too big. Anyway, after driving the CX 9 again I absolutely love it :blush:
  • samny1samny1 Posts: 94
    Where did you read the specs for the 2013?

    I've been trying to get info about the car and the release date. Of course the dealers have been of no help in getting that info.

  • Ok my bad Stephen, they are keeping the v6 and some changes but it all looks really good- believe no major design changes. Everything is on mazda's website including pricing. Good luck!
  • samny1samny1 Posts: 94
    Thanks Jillsky,

    This is of much help. I suppose MPG will be about the same as the 2012?

  • canngacannga Posts: 20
    edited November 2012

    The front end of 2012 CX 9 has been criticized for its silly grin and to many is not the most attractive face around. If that doesn't bother you, then 2012 is fine, if it does then I would wait for 2013 CX 9.

    The front end of 2013 CX 9 has been completely re-designed and is significantly better looking than 2012 (IMHO of course). The silly grin and that artificial chrome bar (the brace) in the middle of the grill of 2012 are now gone.

    Other than the front end, there is really not much change.
  • davichodavicho Posts: 190
    edited November 2012

    I am not looking to buy a CX-9 anytime soon. I had posted my opinion about the CX-9 looking better (generally since 2007-2012) then the Highlander...of course my opinion is subjective and also biased.

    I agree with you on the "silly grin" design...its un-tasteful. Luckily, I have escaped the silly grin with the two Mazdas we own. Our (wife's) 2007 Galaxy Gray CX-9 Touring looks very nice and sophisticated and our (mine) 2006 Whitewater Pearl Mazda5 Touring 5-MT is nice and sporty...both which were pre-grin face design.
  • canngacannga Posts: 20
    edited November 2012
    Is it true the Mazda CX9's 3.7L V6 engine, which is a Ford-designed engine, is actually made in Japan at Mazda's engine plant?
    I had thought it was made by Ford and delivered to Mazda for installing into the CX9. No big deal - just curious.

    For the 2008 model year, Mazda increased engine displacement to 3.7 litres. Mazda states that the new engine generates 204 kilowatts (273 hp) and 366 Newton metres (270 lb·ft) of torque.[3] The engine went into production in June 2007 at Mazda’s engine plant in Japan.

    (davicho, my mistake, that post about 2013 CX9 facelift change was meant for jillsky.)
  • bvanremortelbvanremortel Posts: 3
    edited November 2012
    Well in the next few months I'm shopping for a new family hauler (4 kids...)after selling our 2002 Honda Odyssey last month. I will be a ginnea pig as I shop the 2013 Mazda CX-9 (looks VERY nice in new format), Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Acura MDX, Nissan Pathfinder, and Infinity JX35. I'm in the $38,000-$45,000 range so a loaded regular model or a stock Luxury version...

    I like sports cars so that may influence me (Acura TSX and BMW 328iC in my garage). As I said, had an Odyssey for 10 years and before that a Toyota Previa before that for family duties. My wife drives the Acura so she like performance too.

    I've read every post in this forum and it looks like a great place to see all the comparisons.

    Will advise you all on how it goes with the dealers.
  • Hi. You know threads tend to draw on for years, so I'll add my continuance of this one. We are talking about SUV's! My family is also in the market for one; namely to rid ourselves of a Freestyle we've got dirt cheap with no issues...yet - CVT tranny anyone?

    These aren't drag racing, SCCA competing machines man! Their for hauling many butts around in some form of comfort and poise. If I'm concerning myself with the 60' time out of the hole to achieve my 8.99 second 1/4 mile I personally will be in another vehicle; without my children and family. If I find myself mountain carving outside of Sausalito in my SUV, I'll give my own-self a ticket for being an idiot!

    Safety is my primary concern, and real life doesn't equal crash test but I put more weight in the safety dept. for the Toy. And I'm odd man out, as is my wife (who is not a man:)), liking the outward aesthetics of the 2008 + Highlander well beyond the frumpy guppy look of that CX9. I too was considering both but I can't dig into that lazy design of Mazda. Then again I'm always the oddball; I'll take John Coltrane over that Adele everyday, Anchovies or anything else over McDonalds, Frank Lloyd Wright over McMansions, etc. PLus the Highlander is quicker to 60 mph with 3 less horseys to boot..sniff!! Cheers!
  • bvanremortelbvanremortel Posts: 3
    edited December 2012
    Per the new US News Car Ratings for "Affordable SUV" category.

    The CX-9 comes out in a tie for first place. I have looked at several of them and am conflicted with which to buy: a 2013 CX-9 (#1 rated as a 2012, and the 13 looks better...) or something else. I really like the looks of the Pathfinder Premium, but it finished in 16th place and has a new version of their CVT. I look forward to more comparison tests in the magazines. I'm shooting for a spring purchase so I have a little time to compare and contrast.
  • iniowainiowa Posts: 1
    I just traded in my 2010 CX 9 AWD Tourning for the 2013 AWD GT. I love the new design. Mazda for the most part kept the car as is with the exception of the front and rear design and some updated options/features. Living in Iowa I needed the AWD for the weather, there were times in my 2010 that I spent several hours trying to get home and was in comfort. I also haul kids around for cheer and there is more than enough room in the vehicle for the kids and all of their stuff.

    I did test drive a lot of the competitors and found myself coming back to the CX9. I had a Nissan Rouqe prior to buying the CX9.

    My only complainst on the new 2013 is that to use the SMS feature you need a specific phone from your carrier. I had to trade in my iphone for the Samsung Galaxy S III to get this feature to work. When I talked to Mazda each carrier has different phones that are compatible; it seemed Verizon was the only one that was limited. The only other complaint is the new headrests in the 3rd row take up more window space then previously. Good luck to everyone who is looking.. it is a great car for the money.
  • bvanremortelbvanremortel Posts: 3
    edited February 2013
    SO I posted in last 2 months and finally test drove all the cars we talk about. I expected to be blown away by the CX-9 but I was not. Felt like I has on a too tall chair (I'm 6') and when I sat in the passanger seat my head was against the roof on the edge of the sunroof. Very strange ergonomics in the front seats with the super deep foot wells and high center console. I was underwhelmed by the acceleration when I was hoping for the "sport car of SUVs." Going around turns seemed boat-like, again, I was not in sync with this truck-like crossover.

    Pathfinder and MDX were OK, JX styling started bugging me so I moved on there. The car I had read was "soft," "floaty" and not a good handler blew me away -- I choose the Highlander SE with all the options in blue pearl. I really rung out the test drive car, it flat out hauls butt and rips around turns. Add that and the resale value and I couldn't even take a second drive in the CX-9, so my mind was made up. Had to order the exact color I wanted from Indiana, so hope to have that in ~6 weeks.

    Good luck in your search, and everyone's right --test drives are critical.
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