2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Mazda CX-9

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Compared to metal, the Pilot’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda CX-9 has a metal gas tank.

Both the Pilot and the CX-9 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, 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 Mazda CX-9:

Pilot

CX-9

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

149

212

Neck Stress

189 lbs.

309 lbs.

Neck Compression

46 lbs.

51 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

46/243 lbs.

107/424 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

216

337

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk

35%

40%

Neck Stress

116 lbs.

183 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 Mazda CX-9:

Pilot

CX-9

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

42 G’s

54 G’s

Hip Force

304 lbs.

582 lbs.

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

Warranty

There are over 79 percent more Honda dealers than there are Mazda 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 engine in the CX-9 has dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Pilot has a standard 130-amp alternator. The CX-9’s 110-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

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 Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in reliability. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 30 more horsepower (280 vs. 250) than the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Honda Pilot is faster than the Mazda CX-9:

Pilot

CX-9

Zero to 30 MPH

2.2 sec

2.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

7.5 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

10.7 sec

13.4 sec

Passing 45 to 65 MPH

3.3 sec

4.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

15.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.9 MPH

87.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The CX-9 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The CX-9 requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

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 CX-9 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 a six-speed automatic is available for the CX-9.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pilot stops much shorter than the CX-9:

Pilot

CX-9

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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 CX-9 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 CX-9 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Pilot is 1 inch wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-9.

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .83 G’s, while the CX-9 Touring pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The CX-9 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Pilot Elite 4WD is quieter than the CX-9 Signature AWD (37 vs. 38 dB).

Passenger Space

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the CX-9 can only carry 7.

The Pilot has 17.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CX-9 (152.9 vs. 135.1).

The Pilot has .8 inches more front headroom, 2.4 inches more front hip room, 4.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room, 3.5 inches more third row headroom, 2.2 inches more third row legroom, 4.5 inches more third row hip room and 4.5 inches more third row shoulder room than the CX-9.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The CX-9’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the CX-9.

Pilot

CX-9

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

14.4 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

38.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

71.2 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 CX-9 doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Pilot. The CX-9 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

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 CX-9 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Mazda CX-9 is limited to 3500 pounds. The Pilot 4WD offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Pilot has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The CX-9 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CX-9 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the Pilot the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the CX-9 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 CX-9’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Pilot’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The CX-9’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Pilot has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-9 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

When the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The CX-9’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Pilot Elite/Black Edition has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The CX-9 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Pilot (except LX/EX) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Pilot owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Pilot will cost $665 less than the CX-9 over a five-year period.

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 CX-9 only retains 42.75% to 43.92%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the CX-9 because it costs $273 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the CX-9, including $547 less for a water pump, $18 less for front brake pads, $95 less for front struts, $685 less for a timing belt/chain and $41 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 $65 to $3316 less than for the Mazda CX-9.

Recommendations

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

Pilot

CX-9

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Mazda CX-9 by almost six to one during 2018.

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

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