2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Lexus RXL

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Pilot and the RXL 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, 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.

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 RXL has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty

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

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the RXL have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Honda Pilot is faster than the RX 350L:

Pilot

RXL

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.9 MPH

89.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Pilot gets better fuel mileage than the RXL:

MPG

Pilot

FWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

AWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

RXL

FWD

8-spd

3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

AWD

8-spd

3.5 DOHC V6

18 city/25 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The RXL doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The RX 450hL requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Pilot has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the RXL Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (19.5 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Pilot has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The RXL doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the RXL.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops much shorter than the RXL:

Pilot

RXL

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Pilot has larger tires than the RXL (245/60R18 vs. 235/65R18).

The Pilot LX/EX/EX-L’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the RXL’s standard 65 series tires. The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the RXL’s optional 55 series tires.

The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The RXL doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

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 RXL doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Pilot’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the RXL (111 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than on the RXL.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the RX 350L AWD pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the RX 350L (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

Chassis

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 to 600 pounds less than the Lexus RXL.

The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The RXL doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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

The Pilot has .3 inches more front headroom, 3.3 inches more front hip room, 3.7 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 7.5 inches more rear legroom, 1.5 inches more rear hip room, 4.2 inches more rear shoulder room, 4.1 inches more third row headroom, 8.4 inches more third row legroom, .8 inches more third row hip room and 11.9 inches more third row shoulder room than the RXL.

Cargo Capacity

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

Pilot

RXL

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

16.3 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

33.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

70.7 cubic feet

Towing

The Pilot’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the RXL’s (3500 vs. 0 pounds).

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the RXL because it costs $382 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the RXL, including $608 less for a water pump, $50 less for a muffler, $59 less for front brake pads, $239 less for a starter, $30 less for fuel injection, $1594 less for a timing belt/chain and $1449 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

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

Pilot

RXL

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Lexus RX Series by almost two to one during 2018.

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

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