Honda Pilot vs. Acura MDX

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - April 14, 2021

For many years, the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX were fraternal twins, as they rode on the same platform and shared many components. The 2022 Acura MDX is all-new, pulling itself away from the older Pilot, though they still share some elements.

When they were more closely related, the Pilot stood a chance against the MDX for some shoppers. Continue reading to see if the Pilot can still stand up next to the redesigned MDX based on our latest SUV comparison.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Honda Pilot & the Acura MDX »

What the Pilot gets right

The 2021 Honda Pilot starts with a big win in the pricing department, as its $33,725 (destination fees included) base MSRP starts over $14,000 less than the cheapest MDX. Shoppers can move up to the Touring trim, which is only three slots from the top of the Pilot range, and still be about $1,000 cheaper than the base MDX.

The Pilot also comes with all the key advanced safety features at this lower price, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. Move into the EX trim, which is still much cheaper than the base MDX, and you get standard blind-spot monitors.

Inside, the Pilot also ekes out a slim victory in third-row seating, as it has 31.9 inches – 1.9 inches more than the MDX.

And rounding out the benefits of the Pilot, it gets 23 miles per gallon city, 26 highway, and 20 combined in its base setup, beating the MDX by 1 mpg across the board.

What the MDX gets right

The 2022 Acura MDX may be significantly more expensive than the Pilot, but it has the value to show for it. Acura packs the base MDX with standard power features, keyless start, a panoramic sunroof, a power tailgate, 19-inch wheels, wireless smartphone charging, synthetic leather upholstery, 12-way power front seats, nine-speaker audio, and a 12.3-inch infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

It also has standard automatic emergency braking front and rear, low-speed braking control, traffic-jam assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and a driver attention monitor. The MDX also boasts a more powerful 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine – 10 hp more than the Pilot – and a more robust 10-speed automatic transmission.

Inside, the MDX has a 0.1-inch advantage in second-row legroom. In the cargo area, the advantage is more substantial, as the MDX boasts 18.1 cubic feet of room with all three rows upright, 48.4 cubes with the third row folded, and 95 cubes with all the rear seats folded. The Pilot rings in at just 16.5 cubes, 46.8 cubes, and 83.9 cubes, respectively.

Finally, the 2022 MDX boasts an all-new look inside and out. This new design is exciting and fresh inside and out, giving it a massive advantage over the Pilot.

Got a family budget to maintain? Go Honda

There is nothing at all wrong with the 2021 Pilot. It’s one of the best-selling three-row crossovers for a good reason. It’s got a family-friendly price, loads of space, and plenty of features in its higher trim.

Its only sore spot is the base model comes standard with a 5-inch non-touch infotainment system and no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay – an absolute no-no in today's tech-heavy world.

Verdict: Acura MDX

The MDX isn’t for everyone, as its big base price is prohibitive to many buyers. That said, there is plenty of value to make up for that price with its long list of standard features. Plus, with all-new looks, the MDX stands out in a mostly vanilla luxury crossover class. Keep an eye out for lease deals that can make the MDX a better value than competitors.

Take a closer look at the Honda Pilot »

Take a closer look at the Acura MDX »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009 and has been published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also hosts a web-series car-review show and dabbles in the world of personal-finance writing.

His specialty is in the high-performance realm, but he has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Before diving into the world of writing, Justin was an automotive technician and manager for six years and spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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