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i am in a similar situation and your points are dead on with my thoughts as well. i do like the style of the MDX much better and since this will be used for other things other than just the family - a little style is important, just not sure if it's practical. afterall, pilot is less expensive and (very importantly) is roomier. i am pretty loyal to the honda/acura brand as i've never had a bad experience with any of their cars i owned, so i am keeping the decision on the mid-size SUV to only honda & acura. i'm not overlooking the price differential between the MDX and Pilot but it's pretty marginal and not a big concern of mine.
im interested to hear what you decided.
Both SUV's have their strengths and weaknesses, and an EX-L w/ Navi 4wd Pilot blurrs the line even more, but in reality I can't see either vehicle doing all tasks the best. Clearly a Pilot will better haul bulky items and furniture, the family, dogs, and all the stuff that comes with that to the beach, park, or long distance destination- I don't think you'd want wet kids and dogs all over that buttery MDX leather and the MDX is just not built to haul as much gear. The MDX is far more suited than the Pilot to shuttling retired empty-nesters to their golf game, arriving at a black-tie event or that power business lunch - it's clearly the more expensive and upscale SUV. But both vehicles are both built by the same manufacturer and share the reliability and value Honda is known for- the Acura also gives you the added status and luxury of an upmarket marque.
Saying the MDX is better than the Pilot is like saying the Pilot is better than the MDX- both will shine and fail at different tasks. The solution is to own one of each-lol.
After reading many posts on edmunds about torque-converter and leather seat problems on the MDX I'm wondering if I should walk away from the MDX and get the pilot. The Highlanders are nice but they are more money especially to get leather which is what I want.
I, too, think the leather seats are not lasting the quality of the Acura name.
I have also had battery issues and have had the emergency service to come jump start me. Right after the warranty expired I had to pay $350 for a corroded battery cable. Didn't maintenance see that coming?
I LOVE my car, needless to say, and have taken it to the dealership for every maintenance. I am just surprised at some of the issues...