Avenue Motors NJ Used
 Sales 973-319-8566
Service 973-313-5256
1453 Lawrence St Rahway, NJ 07065
Today 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Open Today !
Sales: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
All Hours

2023 Honda Pilot vs. 2023 Acura MDX

Comparison between the 2023 Honda Pilot and the 2023 Acura MDX

1. Introduction

The new Acura MDX offers an attractive look and greater proportions compared to the Honda Pilot. The features of the Honda Pilot look better because it has a wider rear door leading to the cargo space and a roomy third row that is suitable for children. The key features of the Honda Pilot are a comfortable family hauler. Both cars offer flexible seating for 7 to 8 passengers. The Acura MDX offers 7-passenger seating with its standard captain's chair and can be easily converted into a 6-passenger capacity. This car also offers a variety of high-tech options that can be used by the driver and passengers. It has another interesting feature, which is a second-row center console that includes a cooled storage area and easy access to the third row. The cargo of both cars is easily accessible with a bumper-height liftgate. The step-in heights of both cars are quite low and easy for children and old folks to climb in. This is because both cars were designed based on the family car segment. The performance of the Acura MDX is quite good because it uses an active damper system and an integrated dynamics system (IDS) that offers a more sporty handling with maximum comfort. Both cars use i-VTEC engine technology, but the Honda Pilot was only given a 2WD option. The Acura MDX offers an SH-AWD system for maximum traction and can distribute torque not only to the rear but also between the right and left rear wheels, which is very suitable for every type of road and weather. This car has efficiency in fuel saving because it uses a variable cylinder management system that can automatically switch between 6 to 3 or 4 cylinders depending on the driving speed. This system can help save fuel while cruising on a highway. The Honda Pilot offers better fuel efficiency with the same engine type because it is lighter and more aerodynamic than the Acura MDX.

1.1 Key Features

The 2023 Honda Pilot has improved the past models with the new model and it's expected that the changes from the previous model will attract more buyers as a lot of the upgrades are exactly what buyers have been looking for. The 2023 Acura MDX is the superior car with no expense spared in build quality and the car leaves nothing to be desired, with the expected reliable Japanese made build. However, the difference in price (larger than ever before) leads one to question whether the Acura is the best value for money. The 2023 Pilot provides variety in 2WD and AWD versions, leaving an option for those who do not require the heavy AWD system all the time to save some money. Another version of the 2023 Pilot is available in the "Touring" edition with a Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition and rear view camera. The navigation system is a first for the Pilot suggesting Honda is dedicating more features into the Pilot. The Acura MDX has never had more than 1 version to offer, however the various options and features made available for different prices on the Honda Pilot may have a similar result. High-end MDX's are much more expensive than the base model whereas the base model may be as good as the more expensive versions. The top of the line Elite version of the 2023 Pilot offers a panoramic roof as well as 2nd captain's chairs making the price difference minimal compared to the Acura with similar features. Step/moon roof and a/c air filtration come standard on all versions of the 2023 Pilot. In terms of features available in standard versions of the Pilot, there is less available than the Acura however much of it is optional.

1.2 Performance

With both the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX having the same "Earth Dreams" MDX engine, they both can achieve similar power and torque ratings. Because the MDX is based on the same platform/bed as the Pilot, the powertrain can be mounted in the same transverse orientation which allows for simple transfer of power components as well as AWD. The MDX however comes with an extra 300 lbs which worsens the power to weight ratio relative to the Pilot. An advantage to the MDX would be its Acura exclusive 9-speed transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters. This piece of machinery would provide more torque at the wheels as well as more responsiveness and fuel economy compared to the Pilot's 6-speed automatic or even a CVT. With both vehicles having Honda global light truck platform, there would be no doubt that the MDX would have better handling with its amplitude reactive dampers and the Agile Handling Assist dynamic braking system. This would improve the cornering ability and confidence regardless of weather conditions compared to the Pilot. Overall, the MDX would be the winner in performance compared to the Pilot but the Pilot has a strong competitive edge with a lower price and yet similarly equipped mid-level trims.

1.3 Interior and Comfort

The consumer that values comfort in an SUV will probably be more interested in the 2023 Acura MDX. With this new model, Acura has stretched the wheelbase of the 2023 MDX to make more room for the middle and third row passengers. This has resulted in a more comfortable ride and more space for passengers. The 2023 MDX also comes with an available upgrade that includes second row captain's chairs. This option reduces seating capacity to 6 occupants, but the captain's chairs are significantly more comfortable than the regular second row bench. The Honda Pilot is also an SUV that has always been known for its comfort and space. Unfortunately, the 2021 Honda Pilot was sold with a middle row that had seats with fixed armrests and lacked the ability to slide forwards and backwards. This made the comfort level of the middle row less than desired. Buyers will be happy to know that Honda has improved this with the 2021 Model, making the middle row much more comfortable and usable. Both of these SUVs have features to keep passengers comfortable at all seating levels. Step in height is one area where these Honda made SUVs are generally popular. Both the Honda Pilot and the Acura MDX have a "two-step" into the third row. This has been lauded as a great feature, as it makes ingress and egress to the third row much easier.

Both the 2023 Honda Pilot and the 2023 Acura MDX feature interior designs that are simple and functional. As the lower priced vehicle, the Honda Pilot's interior is not overly luxurious for an SUV in this price range. Although the materials used in the 2023 Honda Pilot are good, it does not have many of the refinements that its more luxurious platform mate, the 2023 Acura MDX. The Acura MDX's interior is far more luxurious and is on par with many other luxury SUVs. It's clear that Acura spent a lot of time focusing on the interior of the MDX. The 2023 Acura MDX has been lauded by many auto reviewers for its well designed and stylish interior. The Acura MDX's leather and available "natural wood" trim gives it an interior that is arguably one of the nicest in its segment.

2. Safety and Technology

Safety features are vitally important, so it's significant that this category is where the two cars differentiate the most. The Pilot excels with Honda Sensing, a suite of driver assist technologies including collision mitigation, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and lane departure warning – all standard on every trim. The MDX also comes with driver assist technology, but is only standard on the two top trims. It comprises collision mitigation, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation, traffic jam assist, and low-speed braking control. The Honda is safer in the event of a crash, being awarded a safer 5-star rating by the NHTSA, compared to the MDX's 4-star. The top-spec Pilot Black Edition gets a rear entertainment system with a 10.2-inch display – great for keeping kids occupied on long drives. While the MDX doesn't have this, it does beat the Pilot's standard 8-inch display and 7-inch digital instrument cluster, with a 12.3-inch customizable digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment screen – both operable through the touchpad. If equipped with the 16-speaker, 3D premium audio system which is standard on the top-spec Phoenix Yellow Pearl and Platinum Elite models, it's likely the superior audio quality and larger screens will give the MDX the edge here. The top Acura trim levels are also privy to a head-up display, which is a feature not available in the Pilot. This category is far more subjective depending on personal tech preferences, although those with kids will almost certainly favor the Pilot's rear entertainment system.

2.1 Advanced Safety Features

Overall, the Acura is slightly better equipped with safety features, but this is to be expected given that it is aimed at the premium end of the market. Acura will also have more safety technology available on higher-spec models.

Both cars come with front airbags, side airbags, side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, and a driver's knee airbag. In the back seats, the outboard positions have side airbags, and all three positions have side curtain airbags. The Acura adds a front passenger airbag and Acura's version of the Honda ACE body structure.

The Acura system also has a more advanced Forward Collision Warning system, which is able to recognize the likelihood of a collision with a pedestrian. The Acura MDX also has a blind spot information system, which the Pilot has no equivalent for. The only real advantage that the Honda has in this safety comparison is that all Pilot models can be fitted with all-wheel drive, whereas the MDX has an AWD system that is an additional option on the base model.

Both cars come with Lane Keeping Assist and Road Departure Mitigation. In the Acura, these features are better integrated and are known as Lane Keep Assist System and Road Departure Mitigation System. The difference is that the Acura is able to apply more steering torque and has a wider operating speed range before a lane departure is detected. The Acura also has a more sophisticated lane detection system. All of these will automatically adjust steering and braking if the car is about to leave a lane without indicating.

All MDX models come with a Collision Mitigation Braking System, which is effectively an autonomous emergency braking system. This is only available as an option on the Pilot. Similarly, the MDX features Adaptive Cruise Control as standard, while it is available as an option on the Pilot. This feature allows the Acura to maintain a set following interval behind the vehicle detected ahead, including the ability to start and stop the vehicle with the detected vehicle. If the car reaches a bend in the road where the system cannot detect a vehicle ahead, it will continue at a set speed until a vehicle is once again detected. This feature is technically a level 2 autonomous driving system. This is a feature that is not available on the Honda.

Both the Honda Pilot and the Acura MDX come with a range of advanced safety features. The entire safety and technology section will be a general comparison of these safety features. Acura, being Honda's premium brand, includes additional safety features as standard on the MDX that are available as optional extras on the Pilot.

2.2 Infotainment and Connectivity

Honda's infotainment system has come a long way from where it used to be. The 8-inch touchscreen display and interface can also be found in the lower trim levels, meaning less functionality doesn't equate to a punishment. Some desirable features of Honda's infotainment system are that Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in navigation come standard across all trims. These features allow for easy smartphone integration and can connect phone apps to the car display. HondaLink is a slightly newer feature that connects drivers to their car, allowing remote access points like starting the vehicle, the security system, and locking the vehicle. Honda's rear entertainment system is the cherry on top, being able to stream movies and games on the 10.2-inch screen and comes with a pair of wireless headphones and HDMI input. This would be ideal for long drives or passengers with families.

The crossover to SUV market has evolved exponentially over the past few years alone, going from primarily focusing on capability and reliability to now heavily incorporating driver and passenger experience inside a vehicle. The majority of top competitors in the crossover and SUV market offer similar experiences, blurring the lines of competition. But to both Honda and Acura brand vehicles, this holds some truth but can also be self-defeating. When we take a look at the infotainment and connectivity systems built into the 2023 Honda Pilot and Acura MDX, the situation gets a bit tricky. Both models offer very similar systems with slight differences between the two, but Acura's implementation makes the choice tougher for some.

3. Exterior Design and Styling

Honda has always been a leader in designing vehicles that are practical and versatile, rather than eye-catching and stylish. And for the 2023 Honda Pilot, the same premise stands. The Pilot is one of those chunky, imposing SUVs that stereotype the vehicle type. The boxy SUV shape offers exceptional use of space and the Pilot is able to comfortably seat eight adults. On the outside, there is a fresh look with an aggressive front grille made of chrome and angled lines that criss-cross the vehicle from front to rear. The front and rear bumpers have been redesigned to give a boxier look and finish to the vehicle. Down the bottom, new skid plates are added to give the vehicle a more rugged look, a huge contrast to the passenger car looks of the Acura MDX. The 2023 Acura MDX, on the other hand, has some very strong design features. The exterior shape is dynamic and the overall look aggressive, with a clear intent to move away from the minivan look of previous models. The most important thing is that the car does not look like a rebadged Honda or any other SUV. Tail lights that wrap around the rear of the vehicle are functional and also act as a brake light. Down the bottom, polished dual exhaust pipes add a sporty finish. Generally, the MDX looks more flashy and expensive than its Honda counterpart, which is to be expected. It's lower and wider, and has 6-spoke wheels - 18-inch 5-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with all-season tires are standard on the base model, and 18-inch 6-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels with all-season tires are on the base model with the entertainment package. Overall, the MDX sacrifices a little interior space in order to get a better-looking exterior.

3.1 Exterior Features

Roof height and window and belt line configuration on the Pilot and MDX are identical, the difference being that the MDX body sits on a narrower-looking chassis due to differences in suspension and wheel offset. The MDX, being a luxury SUV, has a longer hood than the Pilot, which gives it better aerodynamics and a more prestigious look. The front fascia, taken at face value, is more of a difference in taste than an actual difference in features. The MDX has a larger and more elaborate grille and Jeweled-Eye LED headlamps, compared to the Pilot's glossy grille and LED headlamps. What really sets the two vehicles apart is the simplified feature set of the rear body. The Pilot has a surprisingly elaborate butt, with a stepped roof leading to a rear window that is integrated with the rear spoiler, and LED taillights that trail the body lines. The MDX, going for a more timeless and elegant look, has a rear roofline that arches smoothly to the tailgate, and the tailgate and rear window are a single entity, which is shaped to give aerodynamics and the appearance of a power tailgate. While not having sacrificed any specific features, the MDX has lighter weight more efficient components which serve the similar function to those on the Pilot. A notable feature is that the MDX has a power retractable and hands-free tailgate, which is a first for any Acura SUV.

Outside, the Pilot and MDX share similar dimensions and shapes, but distinct styling. The dimensions are virtually the same. Pilot length, width, and height are within half an inch. Track width and wheelbase are identical, and the MDX body is just three inches longer. The changes in styling are atypical, in that the 2023 Honda Pilot and 2023 Acura MDX actually look more unlike their predecessor models than they do each other. Being the second iteration of the same generation, the 2023 Pilot keeps the established platform but got a new skin and outfit. On the other hand, the first-generation MDX was in the same family as the second-generation Pilot, but that is no longer the case. The MDX shares its platform with the 2018 Honda Accord, and its chassis is the first of its kind to be exclusive to the Acura brand. Matching the differences in the characteristics of the two vehicles, the intended audiences differ. The Pilot, being a family vehicle, is intended for the general public, while the MDX is intended for a more specific high-end luxury SUV market. Honda's position in the automobile market is one of affordability and value, and it followed this path, giving the 2023 Pilot exterior features that echo the Acura MDX compared to the 2015 to 2020 model year Pilots, but with a lower key and emphasis on durability. The MDX has stayed true to its roots as an automotive luxury brand and made a vehicle that boasts superior craftsmanship and upscale amenities. This article explores the differences in exterior features of the two.

3.2 Design Elements

Tri-bar pattern of design is a niche styling effort that is unique for the Average Joe's eye. Introduced in late 2013, Acura bequeathed the triangular patterns as front/rear bumpers and as an interior design on the 2nd Generation Acura RDX and the 3rd Generation Acura MDX. The design aesthetic has seen various enhancements as of late, as both front and rear bumpers are enhanced with a more 3D look and the return of the gear selector has seen a bigger and better styled triangular pattern design. With the reveal of the 2022 Acura Integra and 2023 Acura MDX PMC model, the RDX and MDX PMC models have incorporated an illuminated trim that accents the tri-point design. As for Honda in a general perspective, a more universal design is what is strived for. In which Honda appeals to more for the masses as it's cost effective for the company. Although universal, various illuminates and deepness on the design have been surpassed, as Honda is not afraid to adapt to the trend of Endurance Racer LED headlights and even a few illuminating grilles to really make the vehicle stand out more beyond the context that it is a Honda, which is seen on the upper trim levels of new model Pilots. The Honda Pilot just significantly generalized the bar of three with a new front grille design that many could appeal as a comparison to other automotives despite trilateral flow of design usually initiated by Acura.

4. Pricing and Conclusion

Price Comparison The final fact to consider is the pricing for each car; the 2003 SUV Runner has a base price of $39,460 - $44,620 and the Pathfinder Armada has a base price of $35,149 - $45,049. Given that the new Pilot has not yet been released, the 2020 model started at $31,650 and the new 2023 model is expected to increase slightly. When compared to the MDX with a base price of $44,100 - $61,750, the Honda Pilot is a much more affordable option, particularly when considering that the Pilot's starting price is barely higher than the Pathfinders most expensive option. Provided that the features on the Pilot and MDX are very similar, those primarily seeking a 7-seater which still contains excellent features than the Pilot is the obvious choice considering the price difference. Overall Assessment The comparison between these two cars has shown that while the MDX excels in many areas, the Pilot is not far behind and in some instances is the superior vehicle. Both vehicles are excellent choices, it will ultimately depend on how much one is willing to spend. If money is no issue than the MDX stands out as a high quality and prestigious vehicle; however the Pilot makes for a far more realistic alternative given the price difference between the two and still that the Pilot is a fuel efficient and versatile mode of transport. With an on and off-road drive-ability paired with great utility the SUV market has been Honda's niche for a long time and while the MDX may have set the standard for midsize SUV's back in the day, the new Pilot is trying to tip the scales in Honda's favour.

4.1 Price Comparison

The third, and perhaps most telling value comparison, is quality over time for the price. JD Power and Consumer reports give the Pilot above-average Predicted Reliability ratings in every single category - Acura MDX only has average or below-average ratings. This is a predictive measure for how consumers' vehicles are likely to hold up over time - something that speaks volumes when considering a large purchase. The better a vehicle's quality over time, the less a consumer will have to take money out of their pocket to repair or replace it. This is what truly gives the Pilot a significant lead, as the cost to maintain a Pilot over an MDX long-term takes a customer spending thousands less for a better quality vehicle. High quality at a lesser cost is the ultimate value - and is exactly what one gets by purchasing the Pilot over the Acura MDX.

The next aspect to take into consideration is fuel efficiency. While the vehicles industry ratings are off by just one mile per gallon, the realistic use of gas for the Honda Pilot far supersedes the Acura MDX. The engine from the MDX and the Pilots are similar aside from the Pilots using regular unleaded fuel and the MDX having to use premium fuel. In addition, the premium fuel burns at a higher rate than regular and offsets the extra mile per gallon ratings. Over time, the premium fuel will have the MDX owner spending multiple more thousands of dollars over the Pilot owner.

Let's start with the most direct, yet telling, value comparison - MSRP. The Honda Pilot comes in at a starting price of $32,570. That price is for the stripped and basic version of the vehicle, which still includes the same engine, safety features, and luxury amenities - minus the accessories, which are optional at any level. When compared to the Acura MDX, a similarly stripped vehicle with no accessories comes in at $39,145 - a nearly $6,000 difference. Now the discrepancy in the accessories is what really adds to this gap, as the Pilot's accessories come significantly cheaper than the MDX's.

4.2 Overall Assessment

In terms of reliability, Honda has a reputation far better than that of Acura or any other luxury vehicle. This is due to the lack of aftermarket add-ons and modifications by 'racing wanna-be teenagers' that can destroy a vehicle's reliability. This is beginning to change, with the new generation of luxury Honda vehicles and the sort of people that buy them. Although the technology in the MDX is likely to give problems over the duration of the vehicle's life, the engine, transmission, and other vital aspects of the drivetrain will likely not be problematic. Honda maintains the best naturally aspirated engines and automatic transmissions in the automotive industry. The customer service and dealer network are also likely to be superior from the Honda end, albeit with Acura specific training this gap will narrow. A customer looking for a long-term investment and a future classic might be happier with a Pilot. Time will tell if the technology-laden MDX will keep pace with Honda's reliability reputation.

Overall, it's clear that the MDX is a more expensive vehicle, with the two vehicles tested costing roughly the same amount. The price advantage goes to the Honda Pilot, with the base Pilot starting at $29,775, LX models at $32,000, and the top 2WD EX-L at $35,630. Similarly equipped, the Pilot is the better value. The rock solid lunch family vehicle of the past, the affordable Honda Pilot could now be viewed as a luxury vehicle from the inside for less money. With a decent amount of extras, the Acura MDX starts at $43,775 and can rocket skyward to a shocking $54,000 dollars.