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Anyone else tempted to switch to the new Pilot?

11446 Views 126 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  Hogan773
Anyone else tempted to switch from the MDX to the new Pilot? I’m really impressed by what Honda has done. Almost every one of the features I really like from the MDX(the removable middle seat, the panoramic sunroof, 360 camera, heads up display, the Advance’s rear hatch that automatically closes as you walk away is on it and it has a substantially better third row (vents, an extra place, more leg room, and a 60/40 split) with a much bigger cargo area. All on the same platform with the same transmission as the MDX plus a newer version of the V6 that make almost as much power. I don’t think I’d have bought an MDX were this generation Pilot released. Especially now that I’m using the third row a lot more than we ever expected. No doubt the Bose system in the Elite is a downgrade from the ELS Studio 3D, the styling isn’t quite as nice, going from the larger screen to the smaller one would be a downgrade, and the materials in the MDX are nicer but its looking to me that the benefits for our family would outweigh what we’d lose and almost every feature we love would stay. Cachet means little to me though my local Honda dealer isn't as good as the local Acura dealer so that would be a downgrade.
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To me it really depends on the price difference and useable size difference. I really like the exterior of the MDX but the new Pilot is also handsome enough for me. I think some people could phrase it the other way too...."unless you really feel like paying an extra $10,000 for a little extra sporty look and a few extra doodads here and there, I don't think anyone in their right mind would choose to pay that much more for an MDX when they can get a very very similar vehicle for a better value with the Pilot"

I realize I am on the MDX board so there will be inherent biases :)

I haven't made any decision yet....depends on pricing and functional difference.
I think it'd come down to a combo of price, specs/functions on paper, and driving experience - something that can't be concluded by just looking at the spec sheets.

I don't know which one would come out on top, especially when factoring in price (ex: is the one doo dad in the MDX worth an extra $5K or something similar) but so far it seems it'd be prudent to do a test drive of both of them along with a comparison of functions features (that one cares about) and cost.

On the Honda website the new Pilot looks decent and I'm surprised they're touting its 'off-road' capabilities and that it can be had with actual steel skid plates with the right package. I've always thought of a Pilot as mostly a family hauler and grocery getter, but probably a decent one for that niche.

But if someone interested in the MDX is cross shopping the Pilot, which seems to be a sensible thing to do, then there are lots of other vehicles to cross shop as well.

Hogan - if you ever do your test drives of the MDX and 2023 Pilot I hope you'll post your impressions here.
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A huge point for me is dealer experience
Hey to each his own but I personally place minimal $$$ value on "dealer experience"
The dealer experience means next to nothing for me - largely because I hardly ever actually go to the dealer. For my 2014 MDX I finally took it to a dealership 9 years after buying it - to have the timing belt replaced. All maintenance I've done myself in my driveway (it's easier and quicker) and it's had no actual failures.

I wouldn't pay anything more for the dealership branding. If I thought I was going to be spending a lot of time at the dealership and therefore wanted a nicer one to interact with, I'd likely skip the brand because it'd mean the vehicle was too unreliable. I realize some people have oil changes, etc. done at dealerships so maybe it means more to them to have free cookies or something at the dealership service department.

Honda is targeting certain segments with their brands and models. In my mind Acura has the reputation of 'more sporty', somewhat more 'upscale' in fittings, etc. whereas Honda is more 'practical' and 'better value' and both are about equally as reliable since they're essentially made by the same company using many of the same components. These differences alone mean an Acura will likely be a better match for me than a Honda given what I'm interested in for a vehicle, but whether there's any real substance there between two particular models like the 2023 Pilot and the 4th gen MDX would require more detailed comparisons including an actual good extensive test drive in each. This is assuming I'd be okay with the styling, sizing, materials of each.
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I guess if you don't make more than $100 an hour then working on the car yourself is worth your time.
Well, I suppose some people may reach that conclusion from a position of ignorance and short-sightedness.

You're right on one point - I get paid wages of $0 per hour (since no longer earn a wage since I'm retired), however I've done quite well to the point where the cost isn't any practical factor to me, although I still don't mind saving a dime. I can see that if one must still work to earn a wage in order to pay their daily expenses then they may need to balance the time they allocate towards earning the wage against doing other activities, including any DIY.

Just spending a hour less time on a forum like this once every few months is enough time to change the oil if one were inclined to do that - it doesn't always come down to hourly wage versus cost of service because people do more than just earn a wage and sleep - like spending time on this forum, or watching TV, etc.

But there are lots of reasons to DIY if one is so inclined that have nothing to do with money - for me it's quicker and easier to do things like fluid/filter changes, brakes, etc. in my driveway at my leisure than to have to drive it to a dealership and either hang around or bother with a loaner vehicle. For those who have no experience with DIY on an MDX (and most vehicles) - many of the items are actually simple to do as long as one is physically capable of performing the tasks. In addition, when I DIY these items I know they're done correctly and that they're done at all.

I can understand why some people 'want' to DIY even when they don't need to (like me) and can also understand some people 'Don't want to DIY' regardless of their financial position. Both are fine but it's best to try not to infer as to the reasons one does one versus the other - the inference and conclusions will likely be wrong (as with your statement in retort to my post).

There's nothing at all wrong with DIYing things or not DIYing things and there's nothing wrong with saving money either, whether one 'needs' to or not but again, saving money isn't the only reason to DIY on a vehicle or anything else.

Another angle on the 'dealership experience' - I can see that some people might actually enjoy the opportunity to drive various loaners that a dealership might provide. That'd be on the plus side for choosing one dealership/brand over another (I think Acura would be better than Honda on this point but I've never owned a Honda).
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To enjoy doing an oil change is a funny thing... what I am saying is that is not worth my time.

My friends wife is dying of brain cancer any day now, and 2 days ago his brother died of a heart attack. Even if it was free I wouldn't waste what little time I have on this earth doing simple tasks that any random person could do just as well. I make the unique contributions I can to my professional life and spend the one of a kind time with family and friends.
That's fine and exactly what you should do if that's what you want. I do the DIY because I 'want to', not because I 'need to', and I fully understand some people would rather do anything else in their non-working time than change the oil on their car. My point in the long post above was to just keep enough of an open mind to realize that just because you have no interest in doing it for whatever reasons doesn't mean others would only do it as a financial equation.

I'm not single focused on DIYing the MDX though and do many other things, which is good because it rarely needs any maintenance. Within the last 6 months I put 15K miles on it doing extensive leisure travel all over the place spending my time hiking, seeing people, places, etc. and I do a lot of other things, including DIYing lots of other things around the house because it's something I want to do.

Even when I worked, and I worked a lot of hours back then, I could find the time and inclination to change the oil the once every 6 months or so that it needed it. It can even be a good diversion from working a lot of hours as can a long hike, watching a movie, interfacing with others, perusing an MDX forum, gardening, etc.

Note - I guess we veered somewhat off topic of the Pilot versus the MDX.
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Oil changes and brake jobs, tearing apart the front end of the car to replace something... all meaningless procedural drivel. Most of the time it will take you the DIY twice as long to do an involved job at home as someone with a lift who does it every day.

I've done nearly every job a home diy mechanic can do, multiple times over. My conclusion is that it's a waste of time!
But do you get that it's just 'your' opinion that it's drivel and a waste of time? If you added the words 'to me' at the end of your statements they'd be accurate - 'meaningless drivel to me', 'waste of time to me', but not to some others.

Let's face it - just the time we've spent on this topic and especially on this forum is meaningless drivel to some (probably many) but must not be to you and me since here we are posting and in the time spent on it we could've changed our oil and be good for the next 6 months.

We all have our individual hobbies, interests, activities, pursuits and what's of interest to some is of no interest to others. Like Hogan's example - some people love the act of cooking but I don't so I don't spend any more time at it than I need to but I recognize many people do enjoy it so I wouldn't disparage them for it or make a value judgment and conclusion that they're only cooking themselves because they can't afford to have prepared food delivered to them (ostensibly while they're toiling away earning more money with their hours). I actually pay others to do that task anytime I have restaurant food but there are times I'd rather just spend the bit of time it takes and cook the meal myself because going to a restaurant is a hassle. Of course, better yet is for my wife to cook it so I can spend the time posting like this on the forum.

I'm not disparaging you for not DIYing - this started out by me simply saying that the dealership experience means next to nothing for me and one of the reasons is because I happen to DIY most things. It's okay if you put a lot of value on the dealership experience, whatever that may be, and I don't. You obviously enjoy going to a dealership more than I do and I'm more willing to do an oil change myself than you are. There's nothing wrong with either choice.

Since you spend a lot more time in a dealership than me - what exactly is it that you value on the Acura versus the Honda for that? In the end they both do the service requested. A plus for Acura I can think of is the free loaner if your dealership does that. As far as a waiting room area, I expect that'd vary even between Acura dealerships and they likely all have chairs and internet with some having desks/tables, etc. Maybe some have free donuts - I don't know.

Another potential plus for Acura versus Honda I think - a longer factory warranty period. It was no gain for me on my MDX since it had no warranty work done in that time period but the potential value was there.
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the SH-AWD and iVTM-4 systems are mechanically very similar but they are tuned differently. Here's a video showing some differences in the same 2019 model year. Yes, the new Pilot will likely get the latest version of the iVTM-4 as the 2022 MDX did with its latest version of SH-AWD, but there will likely still be similar tuning differences between those systems.
I made this comment a little earlier but - there's very little info on the Honda website about the 2023 Pilot but I noticed they're hawking the 'trail ruggedness' of the Pilot with available (option I assume) steel skidplates, perhaps tunes in the AWD and axle towards rougher trails, and even an extra inch of ride height. The 'Trailwatch' sounds like it might be interesting depending on what that turns out to be (I assume maybe some video of the trail immediately where the front tires would roll or something like that). These changes alone are quite different than what the MDX currently offers and would make the two vehicles target different niches - unless the MDX gets a mid model change that offers similar functionality.

I'm not saying one is better than the other but I imagine they'll behave, ride, and handle somewhat differently, at least depending on the options one goes for - ex: an MDX Type S versus a somewhat trail capable Pilot - they'd be targeting different niches. Just having differently spec'd shocks, springs, sway bars, tires, tranny tune, engine tune, steering response, and the like, despite being a similar platform, can change the seat of the pants feel of a vehicle even if they're on the same basic platform.

From the Honda website for the 2023 Pilot -
The Pilot offers a revamped i-VTM4® AWD system that increases stability and utilizes available traction. Upgrade to the Pilot TrailSport and you’ll get even greater capability: X-Axle Logic helps you cover rocky ground, TrailWatch™ shows you a live feed of the surrounding terrain, and steel skid plates help protect the underbody.
The 2023 Pilot has a tough new aesthetic worthy of our most rugged SUV ever. The TrailSport takes the SUV’s bold styling up a notch with exclusive wheels, all-terrain tires, and an extra inch of ride height. And for those looking to go even further, the Pilot offers an eye-catching HPD™ accessory package.
And inside -
• 9-Inch Color Touch-Screen
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. The styling is so completely different, I think the decision almost has to start there unless it's unimportant or, much less important than say practical features. The Pilot is a very nice looking conventional SUV.
How one interprets 'style' is very subjective and what looks great to one person can look not so great or downright terrible to someone else. I had a colleague who actually spent his own money to purchase a Pontiac Aztek, one of the ugliest vehicles in history IMO, but he liked it and thought it looked great.

When I bought my 2014 MDX the Pilot at that time was a non-starter for me due to its styling both outside and inside but especially outside because at that time it was basically a box with wheels - no attempt at styling whatsoever but I'm sure plenty practical. Since then the styling of the Pilots has improved and from the website view the 2023 Pilot styling looks like an improvement and seems decent.

Some people actually like the styling of Lexus with their overly large hideous front fascias but as you can tell, I don't. Ditto with some of the trend of Audi with the large mouth fascias.

I like the styling of the 3rd gen MDX more than most SUVs, even with mine with the beak so many dislike. I also like the styling of the 4th gen MDX although I think they went a little overboard with the fascia side cutout holes that could stand some improvement but is overall much more nicely done than Lexus, Audi, and some others. As it stands now I think the 4th gen MDX is one of the sharpest looking mid size 3 row SUVs currently being sold.
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This thread is about Honda vs Honda (Pilot vs MDX) but unless one is a truly loyal Honda serial purchaser, it's prudent to check out the whole market for a vehicle purchase and this includes other brands/models. When I bought my 1998 Dodge Durango it was about the only mid sized 3 row SUV on the market and was just what I was looking for at the time hence the purchase. Fast forward to today and almost every manufacturer has a 3 row mid size SUV product for sale and many/most of them can be had in some trim level that includes leather, carplay, a bunch of safety tech, reasonably powerful engines, etc. so on just spec it's difficult to differentiate many of them, especially if one keeps an open mind as to brand names.

This means the real differentiator will often come down to the nexus of all of the functions, features, quality, etc. which is best determined by a good quality test drive or better yet, multiple test drives. Something can look great on paper but not compare as well as the next vehicle when it comes to the test drive, and the results of the test drive will be interpreted differently by different people. Some like a firm, great cornering vehicle yet others want a cushy ride. Some care immensely about the 0-60 time and will pay a lot to shave some tenths of a second off that time yet others just care about 'reasonable acceleration' that can perform the duties of passing, etc.

Even though the Pilot and MDX are both Honda products they're targeted towards somewhat different audiences (albeit with a fair amount of overlap) and when it comes down to it I think it'll be the test drive versus what the individual is looking for bounced against cost that'll lead people to the best decision for that person. It's not a one size fits all hence why so many different vehicles are made, even by the same manufacturer.

As far as this thread goes - most people here either own an MDX of some vintage or are thinking of buying a new MDX and many of the people here also have purchased other Honda products including the Pilot so it only makes sense to have an MDX/Pilot comparison thread to discuss the merits of each one. I think there'll be plenty of people cross shopping the two due to their similarities.
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If you read this forum there are plenty of complaints about MDX issues - honestly I wish I didn't read so many of them because then I could feel like by paying extra I was getting a much better engineered and assembled car.
As you know, it's the nature of car forums to highlight and focus on an issue even if it's only on one out of a thousand units built. Just look at all the 'one and done' posters here who started a thread about some issue and then it's the last you hear from them - i.e. they only post about the issue and not the ongoing reliability or driving experience. Fortunately there are some posters who post a more complete picture.

Given that, my takeaway from these forums is to glean recurring problems and their resolutions. The 4th gen appears to have a few but otoh I realize that the recurring problems may be on only a small subset of actual units and may have already been addressed at the factory so newer units (within a model year - not waiting until a new year) have the fix already. The tie rod nut torque is likely an example of this.

However, I don't have any expectation that the Acura is a better assembled, better engineered, or higher quality vehicle than its Honda cousins. I think the extra cost goes towards different functions, features, sometimes higher end materials, and the extra warranty coverage (which has some cost to Acura to support). People here with experience with both brands can speak to the point but I think the assembly lines and processes are all setup by the same people - Honda corporate engineers and process people. The engines and trannies all come from the same Honda assembly plants I believe.

I think once one has a chance to test drive the 2023 Pilot and the 2023 MDX they'll know soon enough which one they'll want based on how it feels to them, what they think of the feature differences, and taking into account any cost differences. A couple of examples - if they want the go-fast one with massaging seats they may end up limited to the MDX-S but if they want a little more ruggedness for dirt road for camping, etc. they may choose the Pilot (Honda states it'll be more suitable for rough roads than prior Pilots). Even the available color combo differences between the two might be enough to sway a person form one to the other even if it means a price difference (look at how people get rid of perfectly good brand new wheels/tires and spend thousands extra for some different ones).
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