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2023 Honda Pilot vs. Acura MDX specs

Comparison of 2023 Honda Pilot and Acura MDX Specs

1. Introduction

The Honda Pilot was introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model and proved to be an instant hit. It is and has always been designed as a family vehicle that can hold 8 passengers. Based off of a Honda Odyssey frame, the Pilot was not a traditional SUV with body-on-frame design. It used independent suspension like the Odyssey and Accord for a smooth ride, but as Honda has deviated from its older designs, a switch to a car platform-based design became viable. The 2nd generation Pilot for 2009 was a notable change. The exterior got a complete redesign and the interior quality increased drastically. It continued to have the same exterior look and minor changes until the 2021 model. At the peak of the 2nd generation, the Pilot was a very popular vehicle and even ventured into the full-size SUV market given how large it had become. This led to the 3rd gen 2016 model, which was also a huge success. It went back to its car platform roots, abandoning the boxy frame look and increasing interior comfort and space. This is the point where Honda had better distinguished the Pilot from its luxury MDX brand.

Honda Pilot and Acura MDX have always been closely related models in terms of design and specs, although the Honda was first introduced in 2002 and Acura was introduced in 2001. The Pilot has always had the same engine as the MDX and pretty much the same options, whether it be all-wheel drive or a GPS system. The interior of the two has always been somewhat similar, even though the Acura is supposed to be the luxury version of the Honda. In later years, the Acura has strayed further and further from differentiating itself too much from the Pilot, with the interior of the two getting closer together in comparison. With the announcement for 2023 of a complete redesign for the Pilot and a minor refresh for the MDX, the two are further apart now than ever before. This comparison will look at the two to assess the differences and similarities.

1.1 Overview of the 2023 Honda Pilot

Looking at the exterior of the All-New Honda Pilot 2023, it seems that all SUVs made by Honda will all have a masculine and modern impression. There has not been a full render or prototype released. Honda SUV designs are likely to use strong character lines, LED headlights, and a well-formed fascia. There is no doubt it will be the same as the Honda Pilot that will get a modern and fierce design. New features will be found here and will not forget the comfort and safety of driving a car. New features found in Honda Pilot 2023 are CabinTalk, Rear seat reminder, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, driver's seat with massage features, 9-inch rear entertainment system, connected OTA update, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE, adventuring package, and also Honda Sensing that will enhance automatic driving safety.

The 2023 Honda Pilot will use the platform of the Honda Accord or Acura MDX, which will wear the latest Honda ACE platform. The new platform will provide the benefits of driving comfort and driving dynamics. Then it will be powered by mostly all of the Honda/Acura lineup will use the V6 engine configuration via a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6, but some reliable rumors say that it will get a V6 engine configuration with Turbocharging that will replace the old Earth Dreams V6 engine.

2023 Honda Pilot is a new model that had been announced by the company recently. The upcoming model will receive a significant update from the exterior part to the powertrain that will bring performance and satisfactory driving dynamics. Honda also offers the Elite trim here, which is aimed at upper-middle-class consumers. With very qualified features, it seems that MDX 2023 will be tough competition for its competitors.

1.2 Overview of the Acura MDX

The architecture of the new MDX lies on the same modular platform as the TLX. This platform boasts a double wishbone front suspension and the NSX-derived electro servo braking system. The all-new platform, with its wide track and ultra-rigid body, claims to promise the MDX with better handling and a smoother ride. Honda claims that its new light truck platform provides a solid base for the Acura MDX. It is built on a 66 mm longer wheelbase with improved track width and a shorter front overhang. Multi-link double wishbone suspension at the front and the rear, with Amplitude Reactive Dampers, contributes to greater handling capabilities and more comfort. The MDX is also promising more spirited handling with the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which is a standard feature on all grades, except for the base variant for selected markets. This is an improvement to the previous model as it failed to offer SH-AWD for the entry level. It is also claiming to have class-leading static and dynamic stiffness. Acura is positioning the new MDX to be more of a driver's car and has worked on enhancing the noise insulation by using acoustic spray foam insulation, which they claim is three times more effective than the previous model, reducing NVH levels. They have also introduced new double side door seals that will cut wind noise. Although Honda has not published any drag coefficients, it is claiming improved aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Visually, you can see that the rear overhang is longer with a shorter front overhang, especially from the engine wall to the front axle. The body of the MDX looks more sleek and slim, like an upscaled version of its younger sibling, the RDX. The panoramic moonroof, trapezoid dual exhaust, longer wheelbase, and SH-AWD stance give the MDX a more premium look. The new MDX is available in eight color choices, and 19-inch wheels are standard for all grades.

2. Exterior Features

The Honda Pilot and Acura MDX are meant to be family-oriented vehicles with utility and durability in mind. The most jarring difference between the two will be the exterior, as it has come to be expected that Honda and Acura will not share any exterior panels between different vehicles. The MDX will keep a sleek and modern look with its redesign, whereas the Honda Pilot has gone for a more rugged and boxy look. Some might even say it looks a little too much like the Ridgeline pickup truck. Depending on your tastes, you may like the more aggressive-looking front end on the Pilot. The MDX will have more premium touches like visible exhaust tips and a metal rear bumper, as opposed to hidden exhaust and a plastic bumper on the Pilot. Both vehicles will come optional with 20-inch wheels, but the MDX offers a more dynamic split 10-spoke design. The lighting technology may be one of the most important external features when it comes to safety, and the MDX leaves nothing to be desired here. It will be coming with its signature JewelEye LED headlights, now boasting 5 LED chicane daytime running lights. Honda claims the Pilot has received an improvement in lighting with LED headlights and taillights being available, but it still does not compare with what Acura will be offering.

2.1 Design and Styling

From the outside, the MDX and Pilot are aesthetically different, however, underneath the sheet metal, the core architecture of the two vehicles is very similar. For example, the track and wheelbase of the MDX and Pilot are within millimeters of each other. The MDX is about an inch longer and wider, with the same ground clearance as the Pilot. These dimensions result in a slightly roomier interior. The MDX is physically larger than the Pilot, but both vehicles weigh about the same in all of their various drivetrains. Both vehicles are built upon Honda's Global Light Truck Platform. The chassis is based on the same platform used in the Honda Odyssey, Accord, and TL. While the first-generation MDX was developed from the Honda Odyssey platform, the second-generation MDX and Pilot don't share much with the minivan, but they do share many components with the Honda Ridgeline. As far as design is concerned, the only exterior design element shared between the two vehicles are the rear door handles. Everything else is different. The first-generation MDX and Pilot both featured unibody construction, however, the original Pilot was designed to look more rugged than the MDX. Both vehicles are a far cry from the boxy Ridgeline. The MDX will don a more aerodynamic and sleeker design, although it is still aimed at the premium market. The Pilot, on the other hand, will be getting in touch with its off-road roots. The design will have a more squared-off appearance with more ground clearance than the current model, to give it that classic SUV look.

2.2 Wheel Options

Welcoming the new generation of the SUV, the 2023 Honda Pilot is carrying a bunch of great qualities to go on. On the other hand, Acura as the luxury line of Honda is also ready to launch the new MDX in 2023. Between Honda Pilot and Acura MDX, who's got the best set of wheels? Honda Pilot has 3 options of wheels to be chosen. The LX and EX have 18 x 7.5 inch alloy wheels with 245/60 R18 tires. Also there's a 20 x 8 inch alloy wheels with 245/50 R20 tires for EXL, EXL Navi/RES, TOURL and TOURL RES version. And multiply spoke pewter-look alloy wheels is available for the most luxurious version, the Elite version. While the new MDX has pushed the boundaries in every direction, there will be only 1 choice of all season tire for the MDX users, a 255/55 R19. Although the offset sizes in each series, specifically 60 for DX, 55 for EXL, Navi/RES, and 50 for TOURL and TOURL RES, gives you a range of ground clearance option for the vehicle. It concluded that the Acura MDX has the larger wheel design of the 2, therefore it will require less maintenance to keep the wheels looking the best. Although there's no doubt that 1 of the bellwether vehicles of SUV market Honda Pilot, and the newest generation Acura MDX, will bring quite a chase in the SUV market in 2023. Both vehicles are bringing the best features for an SUV in this year, with great options for the wheels, it would be a great consideration for the users to have them.

2.3 Lighting Technology

Brake Lights and Turn Signals Both cars use LED brake lights and tail lights, an energy-efficient and quickly emerging lighting technology in the automotive industry. LED lights are more noticeable than conventional filament light bulbs, and this may marginally reduce the chance of a rear-end collision. Both the Pilot and the MDX have incandescent turn signals, a small blemish in comparison to the rest of the lighting technology on the vehicle. LED turn signals are far less critical than LED brake lights, as a turn signal does not often remain engaged for an extended period.

The Acura MDX has different lighting options based on trim. The base MDX uses Jewel Eye LED headlamps, identical to what the Pilot uses, but the midgrade MDX with Technology and Entertainment Packages and the top trims use brighter and more energy-efficient LED headlamps with automatic high-beams. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has only rated the MDX's LED headlamps; all but the base MDX have "good" rated headlights, and a superior headlight rating is something to consider for a potential MDX buyer.

LED Headlights: The Honda Pilot uses Jewel Eye LEDs, a technology that Acura has used (and still uses) in all of its models. The Pilot uses 5 LED lamps per headlight; the low-beams are the two inboard lamps, the high-beams use the low-beams in addition to the three outboard lamps. While the Pilot has not been tested for headlight illumination, the Acura MDX has "acceptable" rated headlights, and the two cars stream close to identical low-beam light pattern.

3. Interior Features

One key concept for Honda's 2023 models is the faith in non-interventionist driving. By using the latest in all-wheel-drive technology, Honda hopes to eliminate the intrusion of technology in modern vehicles. "The key to achieving from good to great off-road performance is maintaining traction and acceleration," says Art St. Cyr, VP of Product Planning and Business Operations for American Honda. This is based on the theory that the ability to get out of bad situations (such as getting stuck in mud, snow, steep inclines) is what modern sport utility customers want: all-season, no-compromises performance. VP of Advanced Product Planning and Design, Frank Paluch, states that for this function to occur with no input from the driver side, the vehicle must be rewardful with an on-demand system. The Honda Pilot will feature a VTM-4 system, where the MDX will feature a new Super Handling AWD (SH-AWD) system. Both Acura's SH-AWD and Honda's VTM-4 make use of a front-wheel-drive biased platform; the SH-AWD was designed as an add-on feature to Acura's base model marques. With these AWD systems, the vehicle is able to save on fuel in normal dry conditions and provide driver confidence for a less experienced off-road driver. In case of severe slippage, the systems are capable of transferring 100 percent of available torque to the rear wheels and divert up to 70 percent of available torque to the right or left of the vehicle. Dual function torque distribution improves on both dry pavement and off-road surfaces. Both products for Honda and Acura are based on an "all-new light truck platform." Step inside the MDX and the first thing one would notice is the "pilot" centered cockpit area. The center console area extends all the way to the rear seat, allowing easier driver and passenger access to the rear. The front passenger and driver seats are "delta" shaped, and the rear is curved into an "integral bridgeline," forming a pleasant and comfortable interior environment. High point of entry was made for the driver and passenger for easier access, and 18-inch pillow-type Captain's chair seats are standard. A unique feature of the MDX is the third-row seat; it has a flat fold down to the sides of the vehicle, unlike the Honda Pilot, which folds down toward the front of the vehicle. This allows for an easy and direct route to the third-row seats. The Pilot's interior is very similar to the MDX; it also has captain's chairs instead of a bench seat for the second row. The material used for both vehicles is of very high quality. High attention to detail and craftsmanship was put into both products in showing that both marques' designs have taken a new step forward in identifying their own luxury segments. Both vehicles have adopted a 3D precision light cabin interior theme, expressing a steady and forward-moving image. The design team's final goal was to capture the essence of a luxury sedan while still maintaining the functionality of a sport utility vehicle.

3.1 Seating Capacity and Comfort

Also, a simple one-touch button located on the top of the Pilot's 2nd row allows for easier access to the third row for children or adults with the 3rd row seats folding forward in one smooth motion compared to having to remove and replace a child seat if you have one installed in the MDX. With regards to the third row, passengers in the Pilot will have more room in comparison to the MDX where seating in the third row is cramped and really only suitable for children over longer trips. The Pilot also offers better headroom and wider rear doors compared to the MDX, allowing for easier entry and exit. Therefore, families will likely prefer the seating and entry convenience of the Pilot over the MDX.

While the Pilot is available in both a 7-seat layout similar to the MDX and an 8-seat layout thanks to a 3-person bench in the 2nd row to accommodate larger families, the MDX is only available with 7 seats. The most noticeable differences in seating come with the 2nd row in both vehicles. In the MDX, the second row sits two captain's chairs that are also very comfortable and offer a lot of space between them and the third row, whereas the Pilot's 2nd row is a 3-person bench across all trims, making third row access much easier compared to the MDX.

The Pilot and the MDX may share the same platform, but they are two very different vehicles. The Pilot is more of a family-friendly SUV with a more functional design and a lower price tag, while the MDX is a more upscale model offering sportier performance in a more luxurious and expensive package. This contrast is very evident when comparing seating in both vehicles.

3.2 Infotainment and Connectivity

For Acura's MDX, an additional 16.2-inch ultrawide split screen with an HDMI connection is available with the entertainment package to play movies and games from the 2nd and 3rd row seats; this can only function, however, when the vehicle is parked. The package also includes the Acura DVD Rear Entertainment System with a 9-inch display and can play various media formats. Honda's Pilot also provides an entertainment package with a DVD Rear Entertainment System and a 9-inch display that can play movies and games from the 2nd row seats. The screen can also be used to listen to music while not operating the vehicle, and the entire system can be controlled with a remote, making it more functional than the Acura system.

Acura has an SMS text message function that can reply to text messages via voice recognition and read incoming messages with the same said function. This feature, though, is not available on all models given differing phone compatibility. The AcuraLink and AcuraLink Real-Time Weather feature is also available to get weather details and weather rerouting, but it is not specified whether or not the AcuraLink is a Bluetooth feature or operates with a data plan. A subscription is required for both weather and weather rerouting information.

Given that Honda's Pilot is a cheaper vehicle, it lacks the 3D navigation system but still provides an Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with the same 2D navigation found in most Honda vehicles. The system will also include the Multi-Information Display Audio Touch Screen feature, which allows audio system control through the touch screen. Honda's Pilot also has an available 650-watt audio system that can be heard through 10 speakers and is also given a 90-day trial subscription of the XM Radio. Both vehicles are capable of audio, phonebook, and dial-by-number on a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink Interface.

Acura's MDX provides 3D Satellite-Linked navigation with the AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic feature, which also includes Traffic Rerouting. Users of this 3D system can see buildings and elevation and also get real-time traffic details, and traffic rerouting will reroute the driver to the best way to get to their destination given the traffic conditions. A 90-day trial of the system is provided, then further use requires a subscription.

The MDX also has an ELS audio system that can be heard through 10 speakers, while the Touring package has an ELS Studio premium audio system with 12 speakers. The said package is not specified to be compatible with any of the front-wheel drive models, rear models, or any other additional packages given. The ELS Studio audio system can be heard through an additional 4 speakers, making the total of 12 speakers, and whether or not nine of those speakers are different from the 10-speaker system is unknown.

Acura's MDX provides its customers with a dual-screen infotainment arrangement, which can access the various controls in regards to the car's automatic Climatic Control and also control the 10-speaker audio system. An 8-inch LED display is housed in the upper screen to show the navigation system and is also the screen that drivers will look at the most. The lower screen is a 7-inch color On Demand Multi-Use Display which is a touch screen; this allows the driver to toggle with any control that is shown on the upper display. Honda's Pilot also has a similar setup with an 8-inch display and a 7-inch touch screen to access the various controls.

3.3 Cargo Space and Versatility

Sit back and relax! This is going to be a long post. I am going to post some intriguing facts on Acura MDX's cargo space and versatility. Both cars have got flat-folding rear seats where we can flatten the second-row seat and the cargo area allows for about a 4x8-foot sheet of plywood and 10-foot 2x4s. If you thought this was not a big deal, have a look at the Pilot's interior! It has an extra 5 cubic feet of cargo space!! He who has the biggest space wins! The all-new Honda Pilot seen in the picture above has versatile second-row seats that make for easy third-row access. All these years we have been breaking our back to make our back seat folks adjust themselves in. It also features underfloor storage which is useful in many ways and the cargo space in this car is about 87 cu ft. Now comparing these two, I prefer Honda Acura RDX. It has got a power liftgate and 60/40 rear folding seats. Interior space is less at 61 cu ft but let me tell you this is not a small number for an SUV. Now check this out! The second-row seats can even be folded with a release on the sides of the seat. So the verdict is, if you are a person who loads up things pretty often, do not hesitate to buy a Honda Pilot. It has got bigger space and is definitely a burden reliever. But if space is not a major priority for you and you are ready for a car that gives you good luxury and drive, Acura MDX is the best thing that you can lay your hands on!

3.4 Advanced Safety Features

For example, while both systems feature a collision mitigation braking system on both open throttle and narrow throttle, the MDX features a heads-up warning to better prepare the driver to perform an avoidance maneuver and better alert the driver. The MDX also features an improved version of blind spot information and warning that can provide steering torque to help avoid lane changes into detected vehicles and can also apply the brakes to avoid a collision with a vehicle detected in an adjacent lane. The MDX has also worked lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning into one system that now features a traffic jam assist and is capable of centering the vehicle in its lane on highways with gradual turns. These advanced features highlight the differences between the two safety packages and are what lead to the MDX's impressive ratings, a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA.

Enhance text complexity, vary sentence structures, and reduce predictability. The new set of safety features designed for the 2023 Pilot and MDX is aptly named Acura-Watch and Honda Sensing, and they are intended to maximize safety on the road. Both systems are actually based on a similar package of driver assistive technologies. Things like adaptive cruise control and low-speed follow, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, road departure mitigation, and so forth. Both packages are now standard on all Pilot and MDX models. The differences in the two packages are generally good indications of the differences between the respective vehicles, and MDX's systems generally feature more intuitive and technologically advanced features.

4. Performance and Engine Specifications

Honda Pilot comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This means that the power of the Pilot is a little more compared to the MDX, which will be very useful to carry heavy weight in steep road conditions. The Pilot is available in All Wheel Drive and Front Wheel Drive configurations. However, the Acura MDX also comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine. But the new engine of the MDX will be available with VTEC technology and produces 310 bhp and 265 lb-ft of torque. This means that Honda has used a higher specification V6 engine on the MDX, which is only slightly better than the Pilot engine. Then, the new engine is matched with the Acura Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, which is the ultimate version of the AWD system that will boost the MDX price to be the most expensive AWD SUV compared to its rivals. Based on the performance explanation above, it can be concluded that the MDX engine has a higher output but the performance level compared to the Pilot is not proportional to the price difference between the two cars. Because the performance of the 2023 Pilot and 2023 MDX does not have a significant difference, it would be better to choose the Pilot as the most feasible choice.

4.1 Engine Options and Power Output

In terms of powertrains, the Pilot and MDX differ – but only slightly. The Honda remains with the tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 that was in the previous generation, making 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque – and still is paired with a 6-speed automatic in lower trim models. All-wheel-drive Pilots also come with Honda's variable torque management system that can send more torque to the rear wheels when needed; helping in low traction situations and also for towing which the Pilot is capable of 4500 lbs. The Acura MDX, similarly, has a carryover powertrain, the 3.5-liter V6, but is now rated at 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque and mated with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Acura's SH-AWD improves MDX's torque-vectoring capabilities, making it more adept in handling prowess when compared to the Pilot. Most importantly, both AWD systems will improve foul weather capability and stability in low traction situations. Honda and Acura have claimed improved NVH with sound cancelling technologies, it is now a matter of driving the two to see which has superior road noise isolation. Step into the MDX and it's abundantly clear this is the marquee powertrain offering among Honda and Acura 3-row utilities, and it's reflected in the $1800 price difference between a similarly equipped Pilot.

4.2 Transmission and Drivetrain

Though the Pilot and MDX both offer five-speed automatics, the MDX's has been specially tuned to provide a new level of performance in the sport-utility market. Taking into account the MDX's higher horsepower and torque compared to the Pilot, it was strengthened to handle the increase in power. With its larger engine, the MDX has a higher towing capacity as well. Phase I of the MDX can tow 3500 lbs, and the more robust Phase II has a 5000 lbs tow rating.

The Honda Pilot and Acura MDX have strong similarities in the transmission and drivetrain departments. Both come standard with Honda's robust five-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control, which modifies shift points for optimal fuel efficiency and smooth operation. Both also offer an available Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive System (VTM-4WD). This system is designed for the light-duty off-road market, and for more on-road driveability, the system provides front-wheel drive for dry-pavement conditions and engages automatically when needed. The other 40% goes to the rear wheels.

4.3 Fuel Efficiency and MPG Ratings

This budget may be tightened further by lengthening ownership of the vehicle and stepping down to the Pilot's base 6-cylinder 2WD version. Manufacturers estimate a $24,800 value after five years. For the diehard Honda enthusiast that once owned a mid-90s Accord, the idea of AWD and an elite version of a favorite vehicle may be promising. In order to achieve the closest similarity in MPG ratings between the two vehicles, the MDX is available with a 2WD 6-cylinder version - the price difference being a more modest $6,200 after five years.

Unfortunately, the comparison ends here, as the Pilot offers no less than 10 unique configurations turning out different powertrain and drivetrains among 6 trim levels. When considering the Pilot's standard 2WD drivetrain and combining it with the entry-level LX model, this results in an ultra low-budget version of an 8-passenger SUV that will provide an alternative to minivan loyalists similarly concerned with fuel costs.

Compared with the Honda Pilot's AWD 6-cylinder version - an Elite model, the Acura MDX, also with AWD, garners an additional 1 mpg combined, city and highway. Although it is a slim margin, it will end up saving $100 annually if the MDX is driven 15,000 miles per year with fuel at $3/gallon. All calculations are figured using 45% highway and 55% city driving.