2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

Your buying experience includes...

business_centerProfessional Staff
account_balanceSimple Financing
local_gas_stationFull Tank of Gas
local_car_washFree Car Wash


Both the Pilot and the MDX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Acura MDX:





5 Stars

5 Stars




Neck Stress

189 lbs.

244 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

134/382 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the Acura MDX:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.6 inches

Abdominal Force

101 G’s

113 G’s

Rear Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

52 G’s

Hip Force

304 lbs.

757 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Pilot the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The MDX has not been fully tested, yet.


There are almost 4 times as many Honda dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.


J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in initial quality. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in reliability. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The MDX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops shorter than the MDX:



70 to 0 MPH

180 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

121 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The MDX doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.


To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Pilot has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The MDX uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the Pilot Elite 4WD is quieter than the MDX SH-AWD (67 vs. 68 dB).

Passenger Space

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the MDX can only carry 7.

The Pilot has 20.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the MDX (152.9 vs. 132.7).

The Pilot has 2 inches more front headroom, 1.6 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 1.8 inches more rear legroom, 2.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.3 inches more third row headroom, 3.8 inches more third row legroom, 4 inches more third row hip room and 2.9 inches more third row shoulder room than the MDX.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The MDX’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.



Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

15.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

90.9 cubic feet

The Pilot has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The MDX doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The MDX doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.


While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any Pilot can tow a minimum of 3500 pounds.


The Pilot’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The MDX’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Pilot has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Honda Pilot Elite//Black Edition has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The MDX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

The Pilot will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Pilot will retain 47.05% to 51.4% of its original price after five years, while the MDX only retains 42.09% to 45.69%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the MDX because it costs $418 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the MDX, including $87 less for a muffler, $146 less for front brake pads, $72 less for a starter, $1090 less for fuel injection, $63 less for a fuel pump, $66 less for front struts and $373 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Honda Pilot will be $11383 to $11899 less than for the Acura MDX.


The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:



Consumer Reports® Recommends



Car Book “Best Bet”



The Honda Pilot outsold the Acura MDX by over three to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

How much is your car worth?

Get the best value for your car from an Asbury dealership.

Featured Videos