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Acura MDX v. Honda Pilot

shafranshafran Posts: 3
Looking to get rid of my 1997 Volkswagon Jetta and upgrade to an SUV. Have done a bunch of research and feel the Pilot or MDX are the best options. Criteria is:
* $25k or less
* 40,000 miles or less
* 2004 or newer

What's the best option? Do I get more bang for my buck by going with the Pilot or is it worth to buy a MDX with more miles?


  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Depends on how you'll use it and how you drive.

    I went with an MDX, but only because I prefer the tighter suspension.
  • upstatedocupstatedoc Posts: 710
    Just checked KBB on the private party value of my '04 MDX Touring w/ 45,000: Excellent $27385, Good $ 25815. That seems to be right on the edge of your criteria. Pilot w/ same should be much cheaper, however varmint is right, MDX is sportier (suspension,engine,tires) or.....for 3 grand more (maybe less depending on when '08s come out) '07 Pilot LX 4WD new.
  • shafranshafran Posts: 3
    The MDX is definitely much more fun to drive than the Pilot. My main concern has to do with price vs. Miles/year. Do I pay a little more for the MDX and get older model with more miles or get a newer pilot with less miles. Overall reliability ratings for both seem are high and with Honda I don't think you can go wrong.
  • shafranshafran Posts: 3
    I found a 2003 MDX Touring (No navigation or DVD), 27,000 miles listed for $25k. 4-year/50,000-mile limited warranty expired in Jan 07. 6-year/70,000-mile limited powertrain warranty is still in effect.

    Does anyone have this year and model? Any problems so far?
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    I have a 2004 MDX, but my friends, have a 2003, and 2002 mdx respectively. Both of my friends had serious transmission problems resulting in replacement at around 40,000 miles!! :sick: All the MDX's from 2004 to 2006(first generation) are improved :shades: that the 2001-2003 period(same generation) Don't get 2003 MDX or earlier!!
  • tpulaktpulak Posts: 44
    I found a 2005 MDX Touring with a little less that 36,000 miles, that costs$ 24,599. Its loaded with everything except NAV, and DVD. Also, If you don't care about a salvage title, I found a 2005 Acura MDX, that was a recovered theft, which had no damage at all, and had only 17,100 miles, cost $23,900 , and This one is entirely loaded, with even a NAV, and DVD.Personally, this one looks better, with side rails, and a spoiler. Its up to you. The Pilot (used) actually costs just about $2,000 more compared to the MDX. The MDX is worth it.
  • We currently have both of these vehicles, so if I can help anyone with specific questions about them, ask away...

    Specifically, we have a 2005 Pilot EX-L w/RES
    and a 2006 MDX Touring w/Nav & RES

  • idnewidnew Posts: 1
    We are looking at both of these vehicles, but the Honda uses regular gas and the mdx uses premium. Do you use premium or mid-grade in your Acura?
  • I put 87 in it, actually :P . My husband did some research on premium gas & came to the conclusion that it just wasn't necessary, so we don't use it in the Acura. There was no evidence that it's better for your engine, get better mpg, etc. Of course, if gas prices weren't so high right now, maybe we'd use it anyway...
  • It's true that earlier MDXs had transmission problems.

    A friend of mine bought 2003 brand new and three months later transmission had to be replaced.
  • I'm thinking of buying either a used 06 MDX w/Nav or a new 08 Pilot w/Nav. From initial searches, I'm finding that version of the Pilot to be slightly cheaper (just under $30k) than a certified 06 MDX w/Nav (and sometimes RES) in the Chicago area (most with just over 30k miles are priced around $33k to $34k).

    My question: Whether in anyone's opinion the "upgraded" 4 wheel drive system of the MDX and better "luxury" appointments make it worth taking the general used car risk (which I'm hoping to negate somewhat by purchasing certified) instead of just purchasing a brand new car (and the upgraded crash test ratings for head restraints)?

    I'd also be interested to hear whether the Nav systems in both cars are relatively identical, or whether the Acura Nav is superior to the Honda Nav.

    I owned a 01 MDX (base model) and had no problems with it (but sold it at 40k), and the 06 MDX seems to drive a little less like a SUV than an 05 Pilot I tested (I've yet to actually test drive an 08 Pilot).

    Thanks in advance for any responses.
  • Sorry, just realized that I was confusing the SH-AWD on the new model MDX with the VTM-4 on the old model MDX (and the 08 Pilot).

    So I guess my choice basically boils down to whether the Acura Nav system is superior to the Honda Nav system, and if not, whether a two-year old MDX is better than a brand new Pilot (prices being almost the same).

    I'd appreciate any thoughts anyone would like to share.
  • Hmmm... keeping in mind that I am not expert in this field, and can only offer day-to-day "real world" perspective, this is what I would say:

    * I don't know how the Nav systems compare since our Pilot does not have it, but we test-drove an 05 Accord w/Nav and an 06 Ody w/Nav and the systems were very similar to the MDX. The only thing the Pilot Nav may not have is voice recognition/commands, you'd have to check on that.

    * We lease our vehicles, so we have gotten to used to the nice, "tight" steering that you get from day one and that lasts until turn-in at 36-45K miles. But I will say that right now I am closing in on 30K on the MDX and the vehicle feels just like it did the day I got it. :)

    * The MDX offers a lot of little things that you don't get in the Pilot -- bluetooth, back-up camera, memory seats, ambient lighting -- as well as a more refined car-like interior and less road noise. I think it's just a matter of what is most important to you.

    * One thing my husband told me just yesterday was that although he enjoys driving the MDX (it's our family vehicle -- I drive on weekdays & he drives when we're all together), there is one thing he REALLY likes better about the Pilot -- the front console. Having the gear selector on the steering column frees up a ton of space, so there is quite a bit of storage in that section. Plenty of room for his iPod, wallet, blackberry, a sandwich, whatever. The MDX has a place for two drinks, as well as various annoying nooks and crannies that attract crumbs, and nowhere to rest other things easily. Just something to keep in mind if you spend a lot of time in your vehicle commuting, etc...

  • crvjoecrvjoe Posts: 24
    I have just purchased a 2008 EX-L with navigation. It does have voice recognition. It also has a rear camera that comes on the nav screen when you are in reverse. I looked at both cars and I did not see any difference in the nav systems other than the Bluetooth connection for a phone that the Pilot lacks.

    The main selling point for me was that the Pilot runs on regular while the MDX has to use preminum.

    Hope this helps
  • Thanks for the input on the Pilot vs. used MDX. I'll probably make my decision in a couple of weeks.

    The premium fuel requirement of the MDX is certainly a negative from my perspective, but I may overlook it to get some of the little things that the MDX provides that the Honda Pilot does not (although I also wish the MDX had the Variable Cylinder Management that the 08 FWD Pilots have).

    If anyone else has any other thoughts, I would still appreciate them.
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    I think some of us are stuck in our youthful days when premium gas was 20% more expensive than regular. Do your own math but I bet the 25-cent extra for premium adds up to -atmost- $4 per tankful.....even filling up once-a-week "only" requires $200/year It is real money but - is it seriously a deal breaker for the MDX as some have said on this forum? :D

    I needed a vehicle in 2001 so I bought the MDX but I would have probably bought the Pilot....had it been available. Personal preference. The NAV system in my 2001 (made for Acura by Alpine) has paid for itself over the years.
  • And who says that you have to use Premium, anyway?? We put only 87 in our MDX. We have experimented under various driving conditions, temperatures, etc, and the vehicle drives the same & gets the same mileage whether we put 87, 89, or 91 in it. Is there something I'm missing here?
  • That's a good point. I generally try to follow instructions for type of gas, but I do recall that I would not put premium gas in my 2001 MDX if the cost was more than $2 per gallon. I know...pretty random.

    I have a lead on a nice 2006 MDX in TX, and since this car isn't for me but for my wife, I think she will probably end up choosing the MDX for the luxuries it offers over the Pilot (as well as for the styling, which is still much better imho than the blocky Pilot).
  • scottm123scottm123 Posts: 1,501
    I have an 06 MDX Touring (Nav/RES) as well.
    I did a lot of testing with the car and found that with 93 octane, we got approx 5-6 MPG better than when running 87 Octane.
    I tested this on my commute to work, which is the same route, same traffic.. everyday. The commute is about 70% Highway, 30% city
    I ran with 93 for a few months and with 87 for a few months. I tested this in the late Spring to be sure that winter fuel blends didn't get in the way.

    I suppose it depends on your commute and style of driving, but after doing the tests and calculating MPG by fuel in/miles out, we found that the MDX does better on the higher octane fuel.
    Yes, you spend more at the pump, but with the miles out being higher, you're actually saving money.
  • mecheng1mecheng1 Posts: 161
    That makes a lot of sense. The PCM of the MDX will use the input from the vehicle's sensors (knock sensor, etc.) to adjust the timing of the vehicle to compensate for different fuel blends - therefore using regular gas doesn't actually "harm" the engine.

    Perhaps using the lower octane does, as Scott has proven, prevent the engine from operating at it most efficient point, even at lower points on the power curve. Hence, owners manual's that recommend premium verses those that require premium. There are some compression ratios that require 93 Octane to prevent engine damage.
  • mecheng1, you are correct, the PCM/ECU will adjust the timing based on the type of fuel being used. While regular gas will work in most cars where premium is recommended, the offset is a decrease in gas mileage and horsepower (HP).

    Personally speaking, if I can afford to buy or lease a new MDX, with an average price of $42k, paying the extra $210 per year for premium fuel shouldn’t be an issue. The extra cost would be less once the better gas mileage, with premium fuel, is factored.

    Just my .02.

  • Hmmm... doesn't sound like my "testing" was very scientific, lol... :P

    But I think the point of all this, is that with only a couple hundred dollars a year difference, it needn't be a major deciding factor in which vehicle to get.
  • dms9dms9 Posts: 137
    If gas prices are going to sway your decision, go out and get a rewards card, like a shell Mastercard, or whatever. I get 5% off on all gas at shell, I don't use the card for anything else, I just use it as a gas card. Do the math. I put Super in 07 MDX at $3.13, take off the 0.156 a gal with the discount and I am paying less than 3 bucks a gal for super, in Rockville MD (where gas is expensive). I would love it if my MDX ran on regular, but it really isn't that much more a year. Please don't spend $40K plus on the MDX and put regular in it. They get 300 hp out of it by boosting the compression. Put regular in it and it will probably knock or give you trouble down the road. Now if you are only leasing . . .
  • Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I ended up purchasing a 2008 Pilot due to the dealer incentives Honda is throwing around. I got a EX-L w/NAV for under $28k + TTL, which was about $2k cheaper than I could get a 2006 MDX w/NAV with 22k miles (that was also located 3 hours away).

    The price difference convinced me to live with the following Pilot shortcomings vs the 2006 MDX (some of which have already been mentioned above):

    1) No power adjustable passenger front seat; no memory seating for driver's seat (which doesn't matter much to me because both my wife and I keep the seat as far back as it will go)
    2) Fan speed for second row of car linked to front zone (MDX has independent fan speed control; Pilot only has independent temp. control)
    3) No hands-free cell phone capability (not even offered as a Honda accessory, but as an after-market accessory by the dealer for an excessive price)

    I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that I noticed right away during our test drive.
  • As far as the driving mix and the octane level of the gas used is concerned does it make a difference if an MDX is driven mostly on highways for long trips or used mostly in city driving? In other words is the difference in the vehicles performance more pronounced using 87 vs. 91 octane depending upon the type of driving - city or mostly highway?
  • rtchambersrtchambers Posts: 1
    i am looking at an 07 Acura MDX, and was dissapointed to find out that it took Premium gas, because i currently have an 03 lexus RX 300 and it is supposed to take premium, and that is the reason i want to get rid of it. I tried 87 in it once but the engine knocked. So i was wondering if you have had any trouble with knocking in yours?
  • We test drove both the 2009 Pilot and the 2008 MDX this weekend and really can't decide which to purchase. We went into the test drives thinking we would definitely be buying the MDX. The MDX interior does feel/appear a bit plusher (we test drove the Touring version of the Pilot as that is what we would be purchasing and that was nice) but the new 2009 Pilot feels much roomier than the MDX, particularly in the third row.

    Any advice on how to choose would be greatly appreciated. I'm particularly curious whether others who have compared the 2009 Touring version of the Pilot to the MDX also have felt like the difference is not as vast as it once was between the Pilot and the MDX.
  • nutz4carsnutz4cars Posts: 1
    I agree that the gap between the 2009 Pilot and 2008 MDX is pretty small. We test drove a 2009 Pilot EX-L w/RES and 2008 MDX w/Tech back-to-back. All things being equal, we feel that the MDX is still the better vehicle... HOWEVER .. a strong argument could be made that the Pilot is the better choice for a family with 2 or more young children (we have 4-yr old and 2-yr old daughters). We feel that the storage in the Pilot is vastly superior along with easier accesss to the 3rd row. Not being an audiophile, we thought the audio system in the Pilot (512 watt version) sounded as good as the ELS system in the MDX. Being able to run on reg unleaded is also a big plus for the Pilot.

    Of course, all that being said, the MDX is still our first choice due to the superior handling characteristics and extra power (we live in Colorado and the high altitude saps engine power like nobody's business). Hope this helps.
  • comet123comet123 Posts: 9
    Hi -. No advice, just observations. I am making the same comparisons and am surprised how similar the 09 Touring, AWD compares to the 08 MDX w. Navigation. Pilot is about $4,000 -$5,000 less money. Length & Width are almost identical. Navigation system looked identical. the Pilot has the power lift gate, rear camera, sensors. Others are saying it is quieter than previous model, I read it has the same Windows (quieter as MDX?). Pilot's 3rd row seat has more room. I don't like the fact you can only access the MDX's 3rd row seat from 1 side. One other the Pilot, the 2nd row of seats adjusts the 3rd row even more room....perhaps not a big deal?

    Pilot gets about 10% better MPG, and does not have to use the Premium gas - which here is about 15 cents per gallon...

    However, am still disappointed in the looks of 09 Pilot. I was hoping for something more stylish? Less Boxy...sort of the way Honda re-designed the CRV. I did test drive the Pilot and it was great.

    I think if the MDX was a bit smaller and got better Mileage than the Pilot...I would still probably go w. it..I love the interior of the MDX, the "cockpit" feel. ...I also am not 100% sure I like the looks of the MDX either.

    I don't appreciate driving enough to judge the MDX feel vs. the Pilot. Seems like the experts rave about how great it drives compared to other SUVs.
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