Honda Pilot vs. Mazda CX-9

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 - October 21, 2016

The Honda Pilot helped establish the crossover as a minivan alternative. The segment typically offers six- to nine-passenger seating, above-average fuel economy, and car-like agility.

Competition is stiff, and challengers abound. In fact, Honda has responded to these challenges with a total redesign of the Pilot. But is it enough to hold off rivals like the redesigned Mazda CX-9?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Pilot & CX-9 »

What the Honda Pilot Does Well

The Pilot recently underwent a full overhaul that gave the hot-selling midsize crossover a more refined look. With this also came a new, more upscale interior that is roomier than most of its competitors. The cabin is also very versatile, as it can haul up to eight passengers and its cargo room is still respectable at 16.5 cubic feet with all the seats in place. Max cargo hauling checks in at an equally impressive 83.9 cubic feet.

Under its hood, the Pilot carries a new 3.5-liter V6 that produces 280 horsepower. This powerful engine combines with a strong underpinning to allow The pilot to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

In addition to being more powerful than the CX-9, the Pilot is also easier to manage in tight spaces with its shorter body.

What the Mazda CX-9 Does Well

With its eye-catching exterior, of the CX-9 has a sportier look than most of the competition. We're impressed by the range of available features, especially the optional 3,500-pound towing package and all-wheel drive.

The CX-9 seats seven comfortably. Large rear doors and sliding second-row seats provide easy access to the third row. The interior is attractive and features high-quality materials and a unique water-themed design we really enjoy. The CX-9 handles surprisingly well for such a large vehicle.

For buyers looking for a near-luxury crossover without the massive price, the Signature trim is about as well equipped as you can get in this class.

Finally, while the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine in the CX-9 doesn’t have the horsepower of the Pilot’s V6, it does crank out an impressive 310 pound-feet of torque. This gives the big people hauler a firm launch when taking off from a complete stop or passing. What’s more, this engine is superior in fuel economy, as it gets up to 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.

Does Honda Still Lead This Class?

There's no argument that few midsize crossover SUVs can match the Honda Pilot for interior space. It also offers great safety ratings. However, the CX-9 is more fun to drive. Navigating corners is a breeze, and the turbocharged engine is always energetic. We also prefer the CX-9's interior appointments to the Pilot's.

Our Verdict: Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 offers superior exterior design, a more engaging driving experience, and a more refined interior while still ticking off all the major boxes for crossover shoppers.

Take a closer look at the Honda Pilot >>

Take a closer look at the Mazda CX-9 >>


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.

Follow On: Twitter | Website

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