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2004 Acura MDX vs. 2004 Honda Pilot

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


My number one question is, based on your experience with an Acura MDX and a Honda Pliot, does the Acura really cost a lot more for maintenance than the Honda? The Finance company I'm working with tries to deter people from buying "luxury" vehicles because they do cost more to repair but from my experience, owning a Lexus and an Infiniti, they're just a Toyota, Nissan and Honda under the hood. If there are things that are more because it's an Acura, what would those be? I'd love you input! Thank you in advance!

About me and what I'm looking for;
We have 5 children so the 3rd row seat is a must, we need the room. I opt for the leather because it holds up much better over the years than cloth seats, the lower the miles the better, maintenance history is important because I need to know the vehicle I purchase won't be from an owner who didn't care about maintenance.

Car Needs: Family transporter / Errands about town

Need minimum of 8 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 135000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 9000

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Response from jasonmreece

8:40 pm October 8, 2015

The Acura MDX and Honda Pilot are mechanically identical, so the maintenance and repair costs would be the same for either (if you're not at a dealer).

But I would be very cautious about buying a 12-year-old vehicle (2004 model) to transport your large family. My first concern would be that an older vehicle would not be as safe as a newer model. The other issue is that even the most well-built, high-quality vehicles (such as the Acura MDX) may require pricey repairs as they rack up the years and miles. Finally, on the subject of maintenance, I also would consider some alternatives to the Honda/Acura that doesn't require periodic timing belt replacements. If you do buy an older Pilot or MDX, make CERTAIN that the timing belt has been replaced! It should be done every 105k miles or 84-months.

As for alternatives, my personal favorite is the Mazda CX-9. It is larger than the Pilot/MDX and has more legroom in the 2nd and 3rd rows and also has the most easily accessible 3rd row. It was introduced as a 2007 model, but got a larger engine (3.7L vs. 3.5L) and nice performance boost the very next year. So I would look at 2008 and newer. It comes in three trim levels- Sport, Touring and Grand Touring (GT). The Touring and GT have standard leather, the Sport is the 'base' model with cloth. The CX-9 has been very reliable over the years with only one significant problem area- the transfer case on high-mileage AWD models tends to fail around 150k, give or take. Stick with a FWD model and you'll be fine. I found 2008 and 2009 Touring models with less than 110k miles and clear history reports for under $10k! FYI- I have a 2012 GT that I bought new and I chose it over a new Pilot or new MDX!

The other possibility that I really like is the previous-generation Nissan Pathfinder. A 2008-2009 SE or LE with leather and under 125k miles would fit your budget, but they're not quite as reliable as the Mazda or Honda/Acura.

Good luck!


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Mazda CX-9

Response from mkaresh

11:07 pm October 8, 2015

I don't know the actual maintenance costs. But premium brand dealers provide more amenties (loaners, fancy waiting areas, etc.) and likely have to charge higher prices to cover their costs. It would be fairly easy to call the closest Honda dealer and Acura dealer and ask for 1) their hourly labor rates and 2) charge for a timing belt replacement. Or, if you won't be using the dealer, ask the repair shop you'd be using. If you do this, please post what you learn here :)

I do like Jason's suggestion of the CX-9. Style of the Acura for less than the price of the Honda. A Toyota Highlander would be good for reliability, and it has a nicer interior than the Honda, but less sporty and perhaps too expensive (for a decent amount of room you'd need the 2008).

On the MDX, the first-generation has been reliable, but the second and third have suffered from some minor but common problems.


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Mazda CX-9
Toyota Highlander
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