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Honda Pilot 2023 vs. Acura MDX 2023

Comparison between Honda Pilot 2023 and Acura MDX 2023

1. Overview

With the sophisticated design, the Acura MDX 2023 is undoubtedly more luxurious and provides many conveniences for its users.

As for the color variant, Acura MDX 2023 provides many options with a lot of new color variants such as black, white, silver, grey, blue, and even more luxurious colors such as red and green. LED headlamps are also owned by this Acura car and are equipped with a system called Acura's JewelEye™ LED Headlights. An independent 6-LED design is aimed at providing a "faster and more precise illumination" that helps in straight-line and around a curve performance and the light that follows the steering input more closely. Acura MDX 2023 is also equipped with a Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) function which has 16 LED lamp segments in each headlamp that provide illumination that is designed to help the drive better see various road textures and road conditions, which leads to an improvement in visibility and safety on nighttime drives. (Li et al.2023)

As for the Acura MDX 2023, it has a more sophisticated design with the concept of "sleek and sophisticated" and the design is a mixture of science fiction and modern. Acura MDX 2023 is very different from its predecessor because it has an all-new model and the transformation is different from other luxury SUV products. This car has taken a bolder and more athletic approach comparing from the previous generations with a longer dash-to-axle ratio, tapered cabin, and pushed rear wheels creating a more prestigious presence and is taking full advantage of its performance-focused ƒ-SPORT grade.

Starting from the exterior design, Honda Pilot 2023 offers a simple model and the design is not too luxurious. Honda Pilot 2023 is more dominated by chrome accents and apart from the black color, this Honda car is also available in several bright colors such as white, silver, dark green, grey, and blue. Chrome accents can be found on the front grille and the light frame making it more luxurious. Honda Pilot 2023 is also equipped with LED Projector Headlights with Auto On/Off and has many features to make it easier for people who drive this car.

Honda Pilot 2023 and Acura MDX 2023 are two car models from Honda, one of the most popular car companies. These models have become the main topic for car enthusiasts since the release and it has become an interesting topic to compare both and see which model is better. Both of these are Honda's 2023 flagship SUV cars. Honda Pilot 2023 and Acura MDX 2023 have several differences and similarities, here's a detailed comparison between Honda Pilot 2023 and Acura MDX 2023.

1.1. Exterior Design

Overall, the fourth-generation MDX (and MDX Type S) have very impressive styling. It's a touch more aggressive but still recognizably MDX. There's a lot of intricate surfacing on the body and tighter, more compact overhangs. The standard MDX has a chrome diamond pentagon grille, bright double exhaust tips, and a choice of 20-inch wheels. Three new paints are also available and Acura says the MDX has the shortest color changeover time in the paint shop at Ohio's East Liberty Auto Plant where it's manufactured. The MDX Type S boasts gloss black accents and Stone Silver Matte wheels. The two tailpipes hidden within a man-made diffuser give it quite the sporty look. Acura also says the MDX has the lowest drag coefficient in its class. While Acura's Diamond Pentagon Grille has been controversial in the past, I think it looks right at home on a big SUV. It's a statement. The three-row SUV market is very competitive, and first impressions can count for a lot. I think this generation of MDX is going to do well on looks alone. (Ziemba et al.2021)

As for the Acura MDX, it will come with an open-pore wood, 64.7-inch full-width digital display, and a high-torque Type S variant with an NSX sourced V6. The 2022 MDX Type S goes on sale on December 13th with prices starting at $67,745. The 3.5L V6 model with jump of $4000 for 2023 pricing. Both prices do not include $1,050 destination charge. Step into high performance luxury with the first ever 3-row MDX Type S. Offering aerodynamic design, Type S double wishbone front suspension, 21 inch light alloy wheels, and 355-HP V6 Turbo engine. MDX Type S will elevate your family dynamic. Step into high performance luxury with the first ever 3-row MDX Type S.

All 2022 Pilots also get updated wheel designs, and the rear receives new LED taillights. The pictures you see here are of top-spec Elite trim with the new Platinum White Pearl paint color. Also on display to launch the 2022 model is a new TrailSport trim level, but the show car was the high-zoot version. Changes are minimal. It's mostly new badges, orange interior and exterior accents, roof rails, and machine finished wheels. Honda says it enhances off-road capability, but no specifications were shared.

The Honda Pilot remains unchanged on the outside. The fifth generation of the family-friendly Pilot made its debut at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. While it has been refreshed inside and out, changes to the machine itself are quite mild. All 2022 Honda Pilots get refreshed front and rear styling, but not new architecture. The styling is more upright and generally boxier than before, and there are all-new LED headlights. Rugged trim level has grille that's more truck-like.

1.2. Interior Features

The Acura MDX 2023 interior has a couple of features that you won't find in the Pilot. One is a 12.3-inch infotainment display (on all but the base model) that's controlled with a touchpad, a design Acura's been using for a few years now. This is somewhat similar to the 8-inch touchscreen that's on most Pilots (and a 5-inch screen on the base model), but generally has been controversial among reviewers for being difficult to use while driving. Acura has also confirmed that the MDX will be getting an available heads-up display, but no more details have been announced as of this writing. Another small feature is that the MDX has an electronic gear selector, replacing the traditional gear shifter on the lower trims (all but the Type S). Step up to the Pilot's sibling, the upmarket Acura RDX, and the gear selector is a push-button affair.

The Honda Pilot 2023 has the capacity for as many as eight passengers in its three roomy rows, while the Acura MDX 2023 offers available seating for six. While the Pilot has slightly more maximum cargo space than the MDX (83.9 cubic feet vs 79.1), that difference is in the third row, which may not be important if you usually have the MDX's third row folded.

1.3. Performance and Engine

Both SUVs currently offer a single powertrain option and will most likely be suitable for all SUV drivers. The Acura MDX has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. The Acura has confirmed that it will offer an MDX Type S, which will have an increased 355 HP and 354 lb-ft of torque, featuring a 3.0-liter V6 turbo engine. Honda has confirmed that it will maintain the same 3.5-liter V6 engine from the previous generation Pilot but will adopt a 10-speed automatic gearbox and offer a refined i-VTM4 AWD system. However, both SUVs are also slated to receive better fuel economy with the MDX offering a 10-speed automatic which is said to receive an increase of 42% in EPA combined fuel economy ratings, and both the Honda and Acura will be recycling their 9-speed automatic and 6-speed automatic transmissions to offer better fuel economy. One of the more significant updates is that Honda claims the all-new 2023 Honda Pilot will provide a hybrid powertrain. As of now, Honda has not released any specs for this, and the wait is on the edge. This may provide a good reason for those considering between a Highlander and a Pilot to lean more towards the Pilot given that the Highlander has received impressive sales on its hybrid variants. With no plans of creating future 2nd Generation Toyota Sequoias and Sequoia Onyx editions with an electric variant, the only full-size/3-row hybrid SUV Toyota has to offer will be the Highlander when it decides to discontinue the Toyota Sienna.

2. Safety and Technology

Speaking of connectivity, both cars provide similar types of connectivity options like USB ports in every row of the car. However, Acura MDX provides more options with its Qi-compatible wireless charger, which is a convenient feature to have nowadays where almost all phones are compatible with wireless charging. At the price range of both cars, Acura MDX is providing a luxury feel where small details such as a wireless charger are adapted into the car.

For the infotainment system, both cars are offering comprehensive features such as AM/FM Radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, and SMS Text Function. However, Acura MDX 2023 provides an additional True Touchpad interface instead of Honda Pilot's usual touchscreen interface. This touchpad interface is more user-friendly and precise compared to the touchscreen interface since it is located near the center console-thumb where the driver can easily access it and it is well within the line of sight.

Safety is a top priority for both Honda Pilot 2023 and Acura MDX 2023. Both of them are offering similar advanced safety systems such as Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Departure Warning. However, there are additional safety features that are exclusively available in Acura MDX 2023 such as Traffic Jam Assist and Pedestrian Detection. In overall, Acura MDX has a more advanced safety system compared to Honda Pilot.

2.1. Advanced Safety Features

It is important to make sure a vehicle is equipped with up-to-date advanced safety features. Both the Honda Pilot and the Acura MDX are built with strength and safety in mind, offering a whole suite of safety features at varying levels of standard depending on the trim level. Features range from basic seatbelt and airbag advanced safety features requiring a higher level trim, which is reflected in a higher price. Advanced safety features include road departure mitigation, which alerts with steering and braking if a collision with a lane or the road edges is detected, second and third-row seatbelt reminders, and adaptive cruise control. All these features are standard on the Pilot, which is impressive given the price compared to a luxury SUV. Road departure mitigation is also included with the super handling all-wheel drive system on the MDX. Additional new standard safety features for the MDX include traffic jam assist, low-speed braking control, and pedestrian detection, all of which are included in the AcuraWatch safety suite. Some features like traffic jam assist are quite innovative and useful during the stop and go of heavy traffic on a highway. Low-speed braking control automatically applies the brakes if an obstacle is detected while the vehicle is moving at very low speeds, a function very useful when parking. Pedestrian detection enhances pedestrian safety with frontal brake application if a pedestrian is detected. Compared to the top trim level Pilot Elite, the level of safety features is quite comparable. The MDX with the top Elite package comes with a heated wiper zone and a surround view system. The heated wiper zone prevents wiper icing in cold weather, and the surround view system offers camera views from all around the vehicle. Both these features are not found on the Pilot but may be weighed out by the price difference between the top trim levels. Overall, both these vehicles offer a high level of safety, with some at the top trim level of the Pilot and most of the MDX's advanced safety features will be included right out of the purchase.

2.2. Infotainment System

Comparing both infotainment systems, the Acura MDX will be loaded with advanced technology and features; however, the dual screens may be daunting and potentially dangerous for users. The Honda Pilot will have a basic setup and when considering rear-seat entertainment, it may be more ideal for customers with younger children. (Klinich, 2023)

The 2023 Acura MDX will begin with an Integrated Dynamics System, a 9-speed automatic transmission, and sit on 18-inch alloy wheels. An interesting feature only available to the SH-AWD version is its Active Sport Suspension. The base model MDX will carry a dual-screen user interface: a 12.3 HD display on top for audio and information, and a bottom touchscreen used for its multi-functional capabilities. Pressing the power button quickly changes the bottom screen to either the primary or shortcut screen. A 9-inch display audio is standard throughout all models and has several features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration, Siri Eyes Free, and Wi-Fi tethering.

The 2023 Honda Pilot, being a basic family vehicle, will have a normal touchscreen infotainment system with simple features such as a single screen rear-seat entertainment, which is standard from the EX-L trim and above. The Elite trim will come with a newly developed premium audio system from JBL and sports a 10.2-inch VGA RES. Resembling the same setup as the Honda Odyssey for its rear-seat entertainment, the Honda Pilot will not support streaming through Android from its base model. It requires a minimum of an EX from its trims to begin supporting Android and has a standard Apple CarPlay integration, an up-to 8-inch display audio touch-screen.

2.3. Connectivity Options

Pairing with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or other audio device in the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX is a snap. Audio streaming is also possible with a compatible device. And both systems allow the driver to import a personal picture to the wallpaper on the main screen, a feature Acura says is a first in the segment. The branded ELS Studio system in the MDX is available with 12 or 16 speakers, depending on trim level and includes streaming audio capabilities. Acura isn't calling it "ELS" because Honda, which has a long relationship with Panasonic on various audio and navigation features, still uses the collaboration name for the system that's in the Pilot. The MDX comes with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot (with 3-month/3-gigabyte trial), and it includes a subscription-based security package with a number of useful features, including automatic collision notification, emergency call, remote door unlock, stolen vehicle locator, and alarm notification. Honda hasn't yet released details on connectivity features on the Pilot. Given their similarities in many other respects, we still expect the Pilot and MDX to be closely aligned in features and functions for tech-savvy car shoppers.

3. Comfort and Convenience

Acura has always been positioned as a "tweener" between the mass-market brands and the luxury ones and aimed solely at Main Street premium car buyers. While the new MDX ups the ante in cabin quality and refinement, it still doesn't offer a big enough leap to ease MDX loyalists into paying the lofty sums required to upgrade to the 2021 model and beyond. The new MDX has a less utilitarian and more premium feel than the Pilot but the differences aren't dramatic or obvious unless the vehicles are parked side by side. Both SUVs are very comfortable inside with adult-friendly third-row seats. This is all the more impressive here, given that the new MDX's length is shortened by 2.8 inches and the Pilot's wheelbase is cut by 1.4 inches. Neither SUV feels shortchanged in terms of roominess, but the latest Pilot has slipped back in terms of maximum cargo capacity. A more form-fitting dashboard in the MDX also improves interior space, and new second-row seats are more comfortable, but MDX buyers would be just as happy with the seating and space of the latest Pilot. We've said many times that it takes a lot to beat Honda's tri-zone climate control setup, and we can say the exact same thing about this system in the current Pilot. But Acura has loaded the latest MDX with an all-new cabin air quality system that can remove particulates down to 0.1 microns and "certain odors". This is a very unique feature in the mainstream three-row SUV market and a reminder that Acura products are not just ramped-up Hondas at the price.

3.1. Seating and Space

Leg room for the Pilot's front and middle seating rows is a generous 40.9 inches and 38.4 inches, respectively, while third-row passengers still get a fairly comfortable 31.9 inches. In the cargo area, the Pilot supplies anywhere from 16.5 to 18.5 cubic feet of space (depending on seating configuration) behind the third row, and when it's down there's a total of 83.9 cubic feet. It's worth noting that the Captain's Chairs configuration significantly impacts these numbers. Some might wish that there was a bit more room for eight passengers to store their large car containers, but for the average family, the Pilot's space will be more than sufficient.

The 2023 Pilot keeps its one-size-fits-all approach to seating with standard eight-passenger capacity thanks to bench seating in its second row. However, those who upgrade to the Elite or Black Edition trims will lose one seating position there, while toppling capacity down to seven due to the second-row captain's chairs. This can be excellent for providing passengers easier access to the third row, but might leave some families wishing they'd stuck with the two-position bench due to the lost seating space.

Especially when it comes to such family-oriented vehicles, ensuring that there's plenty of room for both passengers and their gear is paramount. Otherwise, what's the point of buying an SUV? Fortunately, both of these Honda and Acura models are built with space in mind.

3.2. Climate Control

In Honda Pilot 2023, only a few pieces of information about the climate control feature have been disclosed. It has tri-zone automatic climate control and cabin talk in every trim. But the EX trims and above will have a wireless phone charger, and at the Touring trims, it will have ambient lighting with 27 different lighting patterns. It is interesting that in the climate control aspect, the lower trims of Pilot don't have the same feature as its rival, but the top trim exceeds it because the two features previously mentioned are only available in top trims of MDX. An advantage of Pilot is that all trims use a memory driver seat.

In the aspect of climate control, this can be the specific feature that the owner of the car should deeply consider. As a big-sized SUV/crossover, Honda Pilot surely has to road a lot. This is where the tables turn to Acura MDX. Although both have tri-zone automatic climate control, Acura uses a GPS and solar sensors to track the local sun intensity and climate to make an automatic climate control system. It also has humidity control. This is a big advantage for MDX because it uses sun intensity and humidity to control the climate inside, making it the best choice for a car that is mostly used daily and roads a lot. Both of them have air filtration systems and rear climate control, standard features for a big-sized SUV. The only disadvantage for MDX is that the heated steering wheel and heated rear seats are optional features Gegner can choose.

3.3. Driver-Assistance Features

In addition to carrying over all of the existing Honda Sensing features, AcuraWatch adds Traffic Sign Recognition and Traffic Jam Pilot to the MDX. Both vehicles achieve a 5-star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Pilot did receive a 5-star Rating in the Frontal Crash and Side Crash Tests, but it received a 4-star rating in the Rollover Test. The MDX achieved a 5-star Rating in every category. Despite this, both SUVs received a TOP SAFETY PICK rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and both have received a 2021 Edmunds Top-Rated award in the Midsize SUV segment. IIHS testing showed improved crashworthiness in small overlap frontal crashes from both previous models. For safety, the MDX is the superior vehicle. It has better crash test ratings, more airbags, and a wider array of advanced safety equipment.

The Honda Sensing suite has been a defining characteristic for the Honda Pilot and the MDX since 2016. During their development, both SUVs received the latest generation of the Honda Sensing suite. However, the Pilot variant sticks with the same hardware used in the outgoing model, whereas the MDX has employed a new radar unit and camera system. The Acura also benefits from the integration of the next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, designed to enhance occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal impacts. This has allowed the MDX to offer a total of 6 airbags instead of 4 in the Pilot. This includes new frontal airbags designed to reduce traumatic brain injury.

3.4. Cargo Capacity

This is an area where the new Acura MDX has received a significant increase in capacity. Despite sharing a near-identical wheelbase with the previous model, the new MDX is about 2 inches longer and 1 inch wider than the 2020 model. That may not sound like a lot, but it's enough to yield an extra 0.9 cu-ft of space behind the third row (18.1 vs. 19.0), 2.4 cu-ft of space behind the second row (38.4 vs. 40.8) and 3.5 cu-ft of space overall (68.4 vs. 71.9). Again, that doesn't seem like a significant amount but the increased width and lower ride height (by about 0.6 inches) make for a more usefully shaped cargo area. Compare this to the Honda Pilot and the results are quite surprising. Despite the Pilot being redesigned in 2019 to be both wider and longer than the 2nd gen MDX, it officially has less cargo room in every comparable category: 14.4 cu-ft behind the third row, 32.1 cu-ft behind the second row, and 48.7 cu-ft overall. In fact, the MDX has more cargo capacity than almost every other SUV in Honda's lineup as seen here, second only to the Odyssey. This should be an important consideration for anyone deciding between the two cars.

4. Pricing and Options

As seen above, each trim level increases in price with the additional features the car offers. With the Honda Pilot, the all-wheel drive system comes as standard with the Elite version. However, in terms of a specific package, the Honda Pilot also offers the black addition priced at $1300. This package is available for the EX-L, Touring, and Elite, and it includes black 20" alloy wheels, black grille, black door sashes, black side mirrors, power-folding auto-dimming and reverse gear tilting mirror, roof rails, and red interior ambient LED lighting.

Compare the different trim levels and packages for both the Pilot and MDX. When looking at the Honda Pilot, the different trim levels are the LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and the Elite. A summary of the Honda Pilot trim levels and what they offer can be seen in the chart below:

4.1. Trim Levels and Packages

The Honda Pilot and Acura MDX are both sold in a range of trim levels with a choice of two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in each version. The Pilot comes in LX, EX, EX-L, Special Edition, Touring, Elite, and Black Edition trims. The base LX models are sparsely equipped but still provide a solid list of comfort and convenience features, including a power driver's seat, keyless entry, and push-button start. Honda's advanced safety systems are included and on the EX trim or higher, the Pilot's second-row bench seat can be replaced with captain's chairs. The top-line Black Edition is priced right up against the entry-level MDX and includes a panoramic roof, heated and ventilated front seats, and a wireless phone charging pad. All-wheel drive is a $2000 upgrade but is included in the price of the Elite and Black Edition trims. Step up to the MDX and you'll find an even more defined hierarchy. The base model comes in the form of the MDX with Technology Package, which includes perforated leather seats, a premium audio system, and Acura's full suite of advanced safety and driver assistance systems. Pricing starts about $2300 higher than an equivalent Pilot EX-L.

4.2. Price Comparison

There has been a significant noticeable difference in the MSRP between the two models throughout the years. The Honda Pilot has increased significantly over the past few years ranging from an estimated $30,000-$45,000 while the Acura MDX has stayed within the $40,000-$60,000 range. Although the new generation MDX has not yet been released, we can anticipate the model will fall into the same price range as its predecessors. This difference in price can pose as an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what the buyer is searching for. The lower-end costing Pilot can appeal to young families or outdoor enthusiasts while the higher price MDX may appeal to those who want a luxury vehicle at a price that is still competitive with other models in the luxury SUV market. The essential technology and safety features paired with the reliability/dependability of a Honda product are some of the reasons why many have opted for a high-end Pilot or even switching to the MDX. Essentially it will be up to the consumer to decide. First impressions of these two vehicles are quite similar. They have the same Honda/Acura truck platform which are also shared with the Odyssey and Accord and are all made in either the United States or Canada. With this being the forerunner in the Honda SUV line, the Pilot also may have been a prototype for the new MDX. The two models have always been released within the same year so it is difficult to say that one is a copy of the other. Step by step the customer can conclusions on which vehicle to purchase. Although both have interiors and exteriors unique to themselves, MDX seems to bolster a more luxurious and technology-filled version compared to the Pilot. An example of this would be the Pilot Elite and its standard AWD (front wheel biased). With an MSRP of $42,320, the Elite is considered a mid-high-end model with many features such as Honda Sensing, leather seats, 2nd row captain's chairs, a sunroof, and a power rear hatch with available options for heated/cooled seats and a heated steering wheel. This compares to the $44,500 MSRP of the base MDX and only $2,000 difference for the Pilot Touring. The MDX had skipped a model and the base starts at $44,300 and ends at $57,000. The price of a Pilot and MDX can vary within $4,000 being the most expensive or a mere $200 difference. In some instances, it would be a better decision to spend just a little bit more for the Acura than the higher-end Pilot model.

4.3. Available Upgrades and Accessories

What’s interesting about the Acura MDX 2023, this luxury midsize SUV has four trim levels, which are Technology, A-Spec, Advance, and Type S. Since it is a luxury SUV, it has been given complete standard features such as 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, LED headlights, power tailgate, and a lot more. The accessories themselves are quite simple and tend to be additional features that can’t be obtained in the previous standard features. For example, the Acura Type S is the highest and appearance-oriented trim level of the MDX. It offers dozens of accessories that can improve its luxury appearance, such as a front underbody spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser, and forced aero kit. These accessories may not have a significant functional role, but they can enhance its appearance and may serve as additional features for those who love modding or have hobbies in automotive.

Both Honda and Acura are full of variants and strong engine options. The available accessories vary in trims. For instance, the Honda Pilot 2023, this versatile midsize SUV has six different trim levels, which are LX, EX, EX-L, Special Edition, Touring, and Elite. Even the LX, which is a base trim that has 18-inch alloy wheels, is available to add the Honda Roof Box 21, Interior Illumination, or even running boards. While the highest trim, Elite, has been polished with a more luxurious appearance and features such as a panoramic roof and second-row captain’s chairs. There are a lot of accessories to add from the standard features, and customers can freely choose to enhance its appearance according to their preferences. However, it should be considered that each trim may only have certain specific accessories that are compatible to install.


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