Thank you for this article! I've seen the SAE paper summary but haven't read it (didn't want to pay for it lol), and didn't realize that the 16 SH-AWD and 16 VTM-4 were identical until last week when I was analyzing part diagrams of both. Then it made me wonder if the new 16+ SH-AWD was actually as capable as the old one, but it looks like it potentially can be (I say potentially because like the blog has mentioned, torque vectoring can be omitted, and I haven't seen too many off-road reviews). Better though? That is still a question mark. I know for one that the rear differential fluid changes are much more critical to keep up now, which means that used vehicle owners should be cautious. I'm used to that with my Subaru anyway, so not much of a problem IMO for me, but I'm the DIY kind of owner also.
Here's some offroading done in the 16 by Redline Reviews btw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6w3Bo7_wus
It gives you some idea of the abilities of the new SH-AWD, seems quite capable.
Here's the 16 Pilot VTM-4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9ewC2dde3E
You will notice that it is a Honda prepared track and also how the VTM-4 seems quite reactionary. The Honda rep also compared it to the Acura SH-AWD's torque vectoring, which he implied the new VTM-4 doesn't have in NORMAL mode, but does have in say, sand mode. So, does that mean the 16+ SH-AWD is more like VTM-4 sand mode all the time?
Well, either way, I'm sure it's much more of a value issue now with the 16+ MDX vs the 16+ Pilot. As time goes on, the dealers will hopefully be less stubborn on holding MSRP on the Pilot and the MDX will need to really improve quite a bit to differentiate itself from the Pilot. Honda sales folk may eventually catch on too, advertising that the VTM-4 is identical to the SH-AWD, which will dilute the value of the MDX further.
Another vid but more of a comparo between the 16 Pilot and 16 Highlander: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mu9Ie5FF1M