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Honda Pilot vs Mazda CX-9 vs Toyota Highlander



  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I don't buy that excuse with Toyota. We're talking about a "Limited" with an MSRP over $40K. The whole point of the Limited's is to have a trim where people can get all the luxury options. The CUV class is crowded and yet every single other LImited (or Touring or equivilent) in the class has the memory seat option except the Highlander. And its not about economics either. Toyota uses the same seats in other models and they have memory seats and I know from my Sienna experience they will release a memory seat in a future year of the Highlander. They are 100% doing this to have a feature differentiator from year-to-year. That's cynical and not very loyal to the customer.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    I don't buy that excuse with Toyota. We're talking about a "Limited" with an MSRP over $40K.

    It's not an excuse. It's a simple rule of developing a mass-produced product.

    I'm not arguing that it's not a deal-breaker for you. Memory seats are a requirement for you. The Highlander doesn't offer it. I'm guessing Toyota is betting there are more people like me who don't see it as a deal-breaker than there are folks like you who'll cross the Highlander off their shopping list.

    If they guess wrong, then sales will suffer. If sales suffer, then it's likely those features contributing to the shortfall will be added in the future (if feasible). I hardly see that as "cynicism."

    All manufacturers do this. They have to. You can't build a vehicle that has 100% of all the features that every person would want to have. It's impossible. We're all different.

    GM is adding Bluetooth to its vehicles for 2009 after years of exclusively offering OnStar as a substitute. Why? Because I'm sure they found that they lost enough sales due to the lack of Bluetooth to make it worthwhile to rethink their strategy.

    Similarly, Mazda is adding a trip computer to the CX-9. Why? It's probably come up as an omission that's impacted sales.

    Toyota guessed that they could eliminate the 4-cylinder model for the '08 redesign. Obviously that hurt sales. So what comes out in 2009? An entry-level 4-cylinder model.

    I just don't see this huge "Toyota conspiracy." Like any other manufacturer, they have to find the right mix of features at the right price that meets as many needs as possible. No matter what mix of features a manufacture chooses, they can't and won't please everyone.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I disagree. You keep arguing that they had to make economic trade-offs and my point is I don't think that had anything to do with it. If you're logic were true, then a few other things would also be true: 1) That they made the exact same decision with virtually every other vehicle in its first 2-3 model years and in case-after-case the "market demanded they add it." If that were true, then they look pretty dumb for not eventually getting a clue that there is a pattern. This is their SOP with first year Limited's. They did the same with the Camry, the Sienna, the Sequoia, etc. And in case-after-case, gee surprise, memory seats show up as a new model year differentiator in the 3rd or 4th year. Consistently. I’ve had this conversation with several Toyota dealers and they all take it as a given too that this is simply Toyota’s way of holding back something to add to the model later, as part of their plan from the start. 2) That despite over a dozen models in the CUV class, Toyota alone believes the memory seat is not an important feature for their Limited customers. To your example, GMC was alone in leaving out Bluetooth and now is having to correct it. Generally if everyone is providing the feature except one, it’s pretty rare the one is right where everyone else is wrong. At least GMC had a reason for leaving out the Bluetooth – loyalty to their internal product offering. It’s not likely that Toyota simply misjudged the marketplace on this – they know they have gotten dinged on lack of memory seats again and again in comparative reviews, etc. This was simply about release timing. 3) If it were about saving money there would have to be real savings for them. But they use basically the same seat with very minor tweaking on multiple vehicles, like the Sienna, and they have memory seats for it already. And since they can market it as an option, it actually can be profitable since options carry a better margin than the car itself in most cases.

    I wager any amount of money that memory seats show up on the Highlander Limited within 2 years – it would have been sooner but the scale back in the ’09 production may have slowed it. This won’t be Toyota “responding to the customer.” This will be Toyota executing the next step in a plan that has been on the drawing board for years.

    That is what is cynical about it.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    GM throws in the direct injection to their quadruplet (Acadia, Outlook, Enclave, and Traverse). All get a bump in horsepower, torque and MPG by 1 (both city/highway).

    Let us hope that Toyota, Honda, and Mazda (Ford) follow suit. Direct Injection is the technology that improve torque (therefore horsepower) of gas ICE by 5-10%. We will see DI as common as overhead cam today within 5 years.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    It looks like your wish just got granted.
    8-way power driver's seat is now available on Highlander 2009 model.
    Also available is the 4-cylinder (2.7L) engine with 2-row of seats.

    "The new engine will come standard on the Highlander grade two-wheel-drive model equipped with two rows of seats, contributing to its excellent value. A third row seat package will also be available for families requiring additional seating capacity. Other key optional equipment will include an eight-way power driver's seat, manual rear air conditioning, and an AM/FM/six-disc CD Changer with satellite radio capability, MP3/WMA capability and six speakers."
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    Too late for me since I pulled the trigger, but it does just reinforce what I predicted. Toyota always does this. They weren't saving money, they always planned to add it and held it back just to be able to makret changes year-over-year...

    Any word on whether they fixed the third-row seat? That would truly make it more competitive.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    1st: Pilot: 11276 (some of them are probably older one - no way of knowing)
    2nd: Highlander: 8070 (1277 hybrids) = 6793 (excluding hybrids)
    3rd: CX-9: 3173
  • klamklam Posts: 2
    I would like to mention that the Pilot EX-L has a rear view backup camera without the need for Navi. The screen appears on the rear view mirror and takes up maybe 1/3 or less of it when it's on.

    For me that is better than looking down at your dash when viewing the camera while backing up.
  • maltbmaltb Posts: 3,572
    The same is true with the CX-9. All three are buying the same mirror from the same company and offer it as an accessory.
  • Interesting we were just talking about V4/I4's need, and 'yota folks are thinking along the same lines. Guess the gas prices rope'em in .. they shoulda had this 4-cyl mode from the very beginning of Highlander's model beginning.

    Folks seems to have posted Aug sales figures. Nice doing Pilot .. I bet Pilot's numbers are mostly due to incentive/rebate pricing more than its real-world MPG .. but gas prices are slowly settling down, mebbe its not as big a concern anymore .?

    Thoughts guys ..?
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    I'm surprised with the Pilot sales being higher then the Highlander. The CX-9 sales seem right on par with what they (Mazda) expected.
  • eagle63eagle63 Posts: 599
    I'm in the market for a new SUV and both the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander are on my short list of rigs to check out. I currently own a 2001 Tahoe, and am looking for something a bit smaller. (but definitely not a compact suv - more like a medium sized suv)

    I've got a million questions, but my primary one right now is with the size difference between the Highlander and the Pilot. My assumption based on seeing them on the highways is that the Pilot is considerably larger. But after looking at the cubic feet of cargo room I'm perplexed - the Highlander shows a max of 95 cu. ft and the Pilot only 88. (I'm assuming "max cargo" means with all rear seats folded down)

    Are these 2 suv's really in the same class? Are my eyes deceiving me?? :) Thanks!
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    That is what is cynical about it.

    Sorry; now I think I know what you were referring to: the cyclical (not "cynical") way that Toyota adds features. The product plan is probably set for the entire life cycle of the current design. I'm sure we'll see those memory seats in 2011, which should be the mid-cycle refresh.

    I'd go back to my original statement, though: if the lack of memory seats was a huge factor for people not purchasing the Highlander, then it's pretty obvious that Toyota is missing the mark by not equipping its vehicles with them from the very start. I would be willing to wager that's not the case and that the feature just isn't as important relative to others. That's not to say it isn't important to you.

    I guess the same "cyclical" criticism could be applied to all manufacturers and how they manage their products. Honda usually adds a "special edition" in the final year of a design to boost sales. Should owners during the early years of the design feel deprived that it wasn't offered from the very beginning?
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    I believe Mazda is very happy with the sales of CX9, which used to be around 2000 units/month. Heavy incentive did help. With more CX9s on the road, people will start to pay attention and put CX9 on their shopping list. Sales will pick up slowly.

    If I had to make the choice all over again, I still would buy CX9. Highlander and Pilot simply don't have all the features that I wanted, besides the styling and driving dynamics.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    All those numbers could be very misleading.
    You should go sit in them and check them out carefully.
    I usually pick an autoshow (there should be one near you at certain time of the year) and sit in vehicles before my decision is made. Doing this can avoid pressure from salespersons.

    You should also check out the CX9 while you are at that. It has 100.7cu.ft of cargo space.
  • do we know how many cx-9s have actually been put on the market? the volume might be less due to availability.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    No, I was referring to Toyota as CYNICAL not cyclical. And if you followed all the posts you'd see that memory seats have already been annoucned for the 2009.

    My point remains the same -- to intentionally hold back Limited options Toyota has already developed for the same seat and that they know some of their customers will want just so they can use it as a selling point for a new model a few years later is cynical, or certainly not very respectful to their customers. I will grant you this -- clearly if Toyota believed it was a make-or-break for a huge portion of customers they wouldn't do this. But they know it is an issue for a subset of customers and they don't hold it back as you suggest for economic reasons (since they would profit from it) or because they can't prioritize it (since they've already developed it for the seats they are re-purposing from other models). Their sole reason is to have a marketing point for a new model year. They have it planned that way from before the first car of the first model year every sees the light of day.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I don't think so. There are a LOT available. There is no shortage. Which is why Mazda is offering $3-4K incentives on them. Try searching inventories online. There are hundreds in-stock within 20 miles of me. I really like this car so this is not a dis, just refuting the idea that their sales figures are low due to limited availability.
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    I'm curious what features, unrelated to drive and styling, you liked in the CX-9 but coudln't get in either of the other two?
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    To me, what were missing..(in Jan, 2008)

    Highlander: HID headlights, split 3rd row, power front seats (w/ memory)
    Pilot: HID headlights, smart-key system, amber signal lights (dislike red ones),

    also, 6-speed tranny with M-mode.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    And if you followed all the posts you'd see that memory seats have already been annoucned for the 2009.

    Yes, I've been following the posts. Thanks for asking. You may want to double check that post you're referring to (#217, I believe), as it mentions that an 8-way power driver's seat will be optional on the 4-cylinder model that's introduced in January. An 8-way power driver's seat is already standard on the Sport and Limited.

    There's nothing about a memory option being added. If I'm looking in the wrong place, please share your source.

    I'm curious where the Highlander's seats are being repurposed from? Which model shares the same seats?

    Maybe you'd be happier if Toyota took the approach Chrysler did with their full size vans, where a mid-80s van was essentially the same as one bought 10 years later, with no new features or improvements over the vehicle's life cycle?
  • Everybody knows it costs more than a billion to launch a new model (with platform sharing, portions of costs be shared too, good for'em). Obviously, you can't give new model (which cost'em billion+), and all the possible features.

    If there is one thing Toyota good about doing -- it brings Lexus engines/transmissions to common folks vehicles (Toyota) real fast. Talk about VVT-i, variable intake, variable exhaust, direct-injection, 6-speed transmissions, electric-steering, 50-state strict emissions, excellent MPG, and Hybrids. These are buzzwords talked-about by any other Luxo-makers, where as, Toyota brings'em to low-priced models real fast., more importantly, makes'em real affordable to you-and-me folks !! By the way, all these features work now, and will work 12 years from now (its not like a pricey 5-transistor radio is necessarily better than 1 transistor radio, 60's lore :-) )

    What it can't offer is free/cheap-priced third-party/suppliers sourced parts., because real money goes-out for each such feature !!

    If all you want is more bang-for-buck, but have questionable reliability/resale/warranty-support/dealer-network/reputation., try a korean-make/korean-sourced-vehicle or something ..
  • citivascitivas Posts: 144
    This back and forth is getting nowhere. We will just have to agree to disagree and let others decide for themselves. Nothing I say will change your mind about how great Toyota is and so far nothing you have written has changed mine about why they hold back the memory seat features (among others). BTW, I think Toyota is, overall, the best car company in the world. So I'm no hater. I own a Toyota now and have had several Toyota/Lexus' in the past. I'm confident I will again.

    But to me you're responses seem unnecessarily defensive of them. My point is not that they don't make great cars, overall, or aren't a great engineering and marketing company. My point was that they have made a choice to consciously hold back features that would cost them virtually nothing to offer (due to the fact that they have already developed them and are already basically reusing previously designed parts) and generate a profit as user options on high end trims, for the sole purpose of being able to add it later. I have and still reject your notion that they left it out year one simply to prioritize what they develop or save money on the trim or because they didn’t believe their customer’s wanted it until they got feedback from the first couple years of production. None of these make logical sense given the facts (they have already developed it and are re-using seat designs that include it in other vehicles; it would only improve the profit margin of a Limited trim since it could be an option so the economic argument makes no sense; and they do this consistently with most of their higher-end vehicles in year 2-4, so the idea that each time they didn’t perceive a customer demand for it and only responded after the fact is ludicrous, especially given the lead time for development – they had to already have the memory sat in the ’09 plan before the re-designed ’08 even hit the showroom). Now we may disagree on whether Toyota consciously holding it back from customers for a couple years to introduce as a model upgrade later is cynical. I think it is but that’s just my opinion. But I am stumped that you can cling to the ideas that they held it back for economic, design priority or customer demand reasons. Again, I have no expectation of changing your opinion so I’m just moving on…
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    My point was that they have made a choice to consciously hold back features that would cost them virtually nothing to offer...

    1. Every feature costs something to offer.
    2. None of the Toyota press documents regarding the 2009 Highlander mention the addition of a memory seat option for 2009.
    3. Still waiting to find out which model shares the same seats as the Highlander.
    4. This is all basic product management. There are trade-offs in every product that's developed; you simply can't offer every feature to satisfy every individual need.
    5. If basic product management is considered a "cynical" way of doing business, then virtually every for-profit company doing business today is a "cynic."

    I'll leave it at that. We can pick up this debate in 2011, when I'd expect the mid-cycle refresh to occur and those memory seats to become available. ;)
  • Enough already, to the both of you!
  • nxs138nxs138 Posts: 481
    That's not bad at all for the CX-9. If you compare sales as opposed to 2007, the CX-9 does very well in terms of not dropping off sharply month after month. And those 3000 plus CX-9 sales make up a substantial percentage of total Mazda sales--and total Mazda sales have never been anywhere near Honda and Toyota.

    So Mazda has to be happy with the numbers, probably not as happy with the incentives they have to give, but hey, they have to keep the lines working near capacity, I guess.

    The Highlander and Pilot, while nice cars, were too "trucky" for my wife's taste. She loves the CX-9, so I guess I have no choice but to be happy...
  • The reason why Mazda adds in things is because owners complain about it, inorder to get people to upgrade. They did it with the CX-7, Mazda3, Mazda5, etc. They wait 2-3 years then introduce small upgrades owners requested.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,092
    The mid-model change (MMC) usually involves face-lift and more significant upgrade.
    My daughter who often sits in the 3rd row was not shy to inform me that there is
    no A/C vent for the 3rd passengers. :( As an ex-minivan owner, I am very surprised by it. I hope Mazda fix that over-sight soon.
  • look under the second row seats and you will see two large vents that supply the air/heat to the third row.
  • aviboy97aviboy97 Posts: 3,159
    Let's not get crazy here and say Toyota's offers Lexus features in their vehicles and makes them "real affordable". When you get a Toyota with any kind of equipment, they are usually very expensive. Toyota is not a bargain company. Have you ever seen what they charge for the many stupid packages they put in their cars like their stupid $500 arm rest package they are known for doing

    Toyota is not the only company with variable intake, variable exhaust, direct-injection, 6-speed transmissions, electric-steering, 50-state strict emissions, excellent MPG. I can think of a half dozen other mfgr's that offer that same technology.
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