Highlander vs. MDX [Archive] - SaabCentral Forums

: Highlander vs. MDX


SaabKen
18-01-10, 12:50 PM
Looking ahead to this year, we may focus on these two as candidates for a 2nd car. Advantages: more space for people and their useless stuff, increased driving visibility (wife criteria), AWD and most importantly, 3rd-row seating.

I'm only considering pre- 2008 models, as the '08 Highlander and MDX are fugly IMHO. Please don't advise me on other brands and models as that's not my question.

Any folks here who have owned either, or both, of these ? Any comments on fuel economy, reliability, driveability, the V6, the cruelty of the 3-rd seating for adults ? Thx.

boon94
18-01-10, 01:17 PM
Please don't advise me on other brands and models as that's not my question.

LOL good luck having that followed. I thought you liked the freestyle?

wrestrepo
18-01-10, 01:55 PM
LOL good luck having that followed. I thought you liked the freestyle?
He has the "moderation" power to make that happen :)

I believe that if you want a real third row the MDX is the car to go with. The SH-AWD in the Acura is superior to the Toyota one, I know that because I own the little sibling RDX. The 07 was the re-design year of the MDX, so you are dealing with a first gen car. My RDX is a first gen, with the first turbo for the brand and hasn't had any issues (knock on wood) at all. The only money I have spent in 30K is fluid changes...hopefully that's an indication of the quality of the MDX

sptsdn
18-01-10, 02:01 PM
A post by Ken where there aren't any photos?!?!

I have to disagree with you about the styling of the current gen vs. the previous generations. While neither of them are "pretty", the current ones are growing on me.

Current-gen MDX (2007+):

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2009/Acura/2009.acura.mdx.20237846-E.jpg

previous-gen (<2006):

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2006/Acura/100650685/2006.acura.mdx.20029668-E.jpg

And Toyota; current-gen (2008+):

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2008/Toyota/2008.toyota.highlander.20129285-E.jpg

previous-gen (<2007):

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2007/Toyota/2007.toyota.highlander.20100610-E.jpg

Between the two, I doubt you could go wrong in terms of reliability and cost to own. If you would consider the new gen and if I had to choose between the MDX and the Highlander, the MDX would win hands down, especially if you are buying a one that will be pretty loaded. A major selling point for me is the voice activated commands; this is where Acura shines. You can pretty much tell the car to do anything with out taking you hands off the wheel. Temperature control, radio, nav, and more can all be controlled easily with voice commands. The Toyota voice commands suck and the factory nav is terrible (again, assuming you get a loaded one).

Both drive nicely but the Toyota has more of a minivan feel inside. The MDX is more car-like.

mike saunders
18-01-10, 02:25 PM
Third row seating in both is only suitable for kids and/or dwarves. I've ridden shotgun in an MDX but never ventured in the rear, aside from helping throw stuff in the back.

I don't think any cute UTEs/crossovers have decent third row seating, with decent defined as relatively comfortable for a full-grown adult for more than 12 seconds. :)

...and you'll need to seriously consider a locking roof-top cargo box, as there's no room for gear if you use the third seat, which is usually when you need the room. That's the cruel conundrum of cute UTEs: you can't actually use the space when you need it.

Honda Pilot might be a more affordable option, but still has the same drawbacks. I love our Odyssey -- that's right, love it -- and aside from the two transmission replacements fixed under warranty (LULZ) it's been pretty reliable for 150,000 miles....

SaabKen
18-01-10, 02:58 PM
LOL good luck having that followed. I thought you liked the freestyle?

Good memory ! :)

Still do. But the CVT could be an unwanted liability in the longterm, esp. now that they discontinued the Taurux X (Freestyle) so the total production run was only 4 years (2005-2008), parts and dealer service experience on the CVT would be limited as is.

SaabKen
18-01-10, 03:07 PM
Between the two, I doubt you could go wrong in terms of reliability and cost to own. If you would consider the new gen and if I had to choose between the MDX and the Highlander, the MDX would win hands down, especially if you are buying a one that will be pretty loaded. A major selling point for me is the voice activated commands; this is where Acura shines. You can pretty much tell the car to do anything with out taking you hands off the wheel. Temperature control, radio, nav, and more can all be controlled easily with voice commands. The Toyota voice commands suck and the factory nav is terrible (again, assuming you get a loaded one).

Both drive nicely but the Toyota has more of a minivan feel inside. The MDX is more car-like.

My impression is the MDX is shorter but wider than the Highlander, I haven't checked their specs yet. That may make some marginal plus for the MDX's 3rd-row shoulder room for adults.

My mistake about the model year, thinking both were revamped for 2008 ;oops:

Yes, cursory scans of reviews suggest the MDX is more "fun" to drive, whereas the Highlander is more "Camry"-like, nothing to get excited about.

I hadn't thought about the differences in the AWD systems. But given that, I'd be much more excited about the MDX's SH-AWD setup (same as RL and now the TL), than the Highlander's which is probably close to the RAV4's.

Thanks guys, all your comments are very useful. Esp. in fending off the wife's slight inclination to the Odyssey (NOOOOOOOOO !!), although she was the one who pointed out the MDX on the road and liked it a lot. I guess in the worst case scenario that she prefers a minivan, the Odyssey is about as good as it gets. But at this point I'd be happy if she and I can agree on the MDX.

PS: just looked up the Honda Pilot ..... no 3rd-row offered at all !

mike saunders
18-01-10, 03:14 PM
Ken, the Pilot uses the same folding third-row seat as the Odyssey. It's actually a nice feature that makes the transition from 5-passenger to 8-passenger really pretty easy.

(you know that deep in your heart, you want the minivan...)


My impression is the MDX is shorter but wider than the Highlander, I haven't checked their specs yet. That may make some marginal plus for the MDX's 3rd-row shoulder room for adults.

My mistake about the model year, thinking both were revamped for 2008 ;oops:

Yes, cursory scans of reviews suggest the MDX is more "fun" to drive, whereas the Highlander is more "Camry"-like, nothing to get excited about.

I hadn't thought about the differences in the AWD systems. But given that, I'd be much more excited about the MDX's SH-AWD setup (same as RL and now the TL), than the Highlander's which is probably close to the RAV4's.

Thanks guys, all your comments are very useful. Esp. in fending off the wife's slight inclination to the Odyssey (NOOOOOOOOO !!), although she was the one who pointed out the MDX on the road and liked it a lot. I guess in the worst case scenario that she prefers a minivan, the Odyssey is about as good as it gets. But at this point I'd be happy if she and I can agree on the MDX.

PS: just looked up the Honda Pilot ..... no 3rd-row offered at all !

Shazam
18-01-10, 03:30 PM
Friends parents have the Highlander. The third row is laughable! For anyone over about 10, it is useless. Other than that, it seems like a nice car. Quite, smooth... yadda yadda yadda.

wrestrepo
18-01-10, 03:46 PM
The new Pilot does have the third row...the car looks big but doesn't feel that way while driving it. If you remember I was helping my sister in law to pick a 3 row seating car a couple of months ago; she went with the Pilot.

I can endorse the SH-AWD of the Acura, the downside of it is fuel consumption. Having said that, I get the same fuel economy in my little RDX that my sister in law gets in her full size Pilot.....

SaabKen
18-01-10, 03:48 PM
Ken, the Pilot uses the same folding third-row seat as the Odyssey. It's actually a nice feature that makes the transition from 5-passenger to 8-passenger really pretty easy.

(you know that deep in your heart, you want the minivan...)

My mistake, I was somehow under the impression the Pilot didn't have 3rd-row seats, but it does.

boon94
18-01-10, 03:58 PM
Good memory ! :)

Still do. But the CVT could be an unwanted liability in the longterm, esp. now that they discontinued the Taurux X (Freestyle) so the total production run was only 4 years (2005-2008), parts and dealer service experience on the CVT would be limited as is.


Ken I know im breaking your rules by a huge amount here, but for the sake of making sure you haven't forgotten anything, You can get used commanders for a AMAZING deal these days, last summer i tested an 06 fullly loaded 5.7L v8 commander and it was only ~$16,000 .... And from what i remember it had an impressive 3rd row.

Its a little boaty but the handling and fuel economy are very comparable to an XC90... Considering with the commander you are getting a real SUV. If you can find an overlander edition, it has eLSD's on both the front and rear axels (*drools*)


Ohh and if shes set on the asian car thing, dont forget to look at the armada which seems to have a very accomidating 3rd row..

http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m310/boon4376/ThirdRowSeat.jpg



Ok i'll stop now :cheesy:

saab19
18-01-10, 04:18 PM
Third row seating in both is only suitable for kids and/or dwarves. I've ridden shotgun in an MDX but never ventured in the rear, aside from helping throw stuff in the back.

I don't think any cute UTEs/crossovers have decent third row seating, with decent defined as relatively comfortable for a full-grown adult for more than 12 seconds. :)

...and you'll need to seriously consider a locking roof-top cargo box, as there's no room for gear if you use the third seat, which is usually when you need the room. That's the cruel conundrum of cute UTEs: you can't actually use the space when you need it.


+1. good summary of the MDX, although I have to say my family's looks ALOT bigger than the highlanders I see around weekapaug, RI (very popular there bc of the hybrid option)

back seats in the MDX are terrible, I told my parents if they got it I would never sit in the back, and that was four years ago. still haven't sat in the back.
tires on the MDX are great, we've got some 45K miles on our originals with a good amount of tread left. mom loves driving it, says it's easier to park than the TL.
like mike said, the odyssey might not be the worst call here.

Wulf
18-01-10, 05:53 PM
Please don't advise me on other brands and models as that's not my question.I tried that with a thread choosing between the 9-7X and XC90.. :lol:
http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172818

And on that note.. You want a Landcruiser or XC90 V8 with the 3rd row. You always rave about the Landcruisers! ;)

dasander
18-01-10, 06:12 PM
I'd go with the Highlander. One in the family, many friends that own one and I can only say good things about it. The MDX will be a little more fun to drive, but the styling is more hit or miss (may look dated soon) and I have found Toyotas to last better thank Hondas.
The Highlander is a simple, well designed, very reliable, safe and fun to drive vehicle. It is not a car, and not an SUV, but gives the benefits of both with none of the disadvantages of either.

woywitka
18-01-10, 06:17 PM
My good friend's parents just bought a new Highlander 2009 Hybrid.

They rave about the improvements over the previous generation Highlander and they are very impressed with the fuel economy. Overall big Toyota fans, and very impressed with their 9 years of Highlander experience.

I should add that they previous Highlander had like 250,000kms on it when they traded it in.

sankuspr
18-01-10, 06:40 PM
The mere though of the MDX makes me want to throw-up. So, i suppose i don't really have any technical information to share, but i would never get an MDX. Get the Highlander! Not to mention the smaller wheels and therefore cheaper tires for the toyota. (atleast it looks that way in the pics. Plus i imagine that maintenance would be much less costly for the highlander.

saab19
18-01-10, 07:08 PM
The mere though of the MDX makes me want to throw-up. So, i suppose i don't really have any technical information to share, but i would never get an MDX. Get the Highlander! Not to mention the smaller wheels and therefore cheaper tires for the toyota. (atleast it looks that way in the pics. Plus i imagine that maintenance would be much less costly for the highlander.

why does the mdx make you want to throw up? the only reason I don't really like ours is bc it doesn't have a stick shift and it doesn't corner like my Z (so yeah, not really a valid complaint on the latter)

sptsdn
18-01-10, 07:14 PM
You always rave about the Landcruisers! ;)mmmm...Land Cruiser.

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2009/Toyota/2009.toyota.land%20cruiser.20240457-E.jpg

Come on, Ken, just break down and just get the LC. You know you want it. ;)

lscrx
18-01-10, 07:22 PM
The new Pilot does have the third row...

My dad has an '03 Pilot and it has third-row... and that was the first model year.

My in-laws have an '08 RAV4 with the same V6 as the Highlander... it has guts! The only thing I don't like about it's V6 is that it's putting all that power to the front wheels and traction is a big problem off the line. AWD would definitely make the RAV4 quicker, i'm guessing the same is true for the Highlander.

SaabKen
18-01-10, 07:34 PM
Ken I know im breaking your rules by a huge amount here, but for the sake of making sure you haven't forgotten anything, You can get used commanders for a AMAZING deal these days, last summer i tested an 06 fullly loaded 5.7L v8 commander and it was only ~$16,000 .... And from what i remember it had an impressive 3rd row.

Its a little boaty but the handling and fuel economy are very comparable to an XC90... Considering with the commander you are getting a real SUV. If you can find an overlander edition, it has eLSD's on both the front and rear axels (*drools*)

Ohh and if shes set on the asian car thing, dont forget to look at the armada which seems to have a very accomidating 3rd row..

Ok i'll stop now :cheesy:

Boon, good suggestions ! I really LIKE the Commander .... true Jeep SUV if there ever was one. Armada .... not so much .... too gargantuan-looking.

Biggest issue I have with these large-/full-sized SUVs ..... fuel economy (economy being the oxymoron here). Why ? Regular gas here is Cdn$1.10/liter at the moment. Lowest in the past 4-5 years may have been about $0.90/liter, and as we all know those days of cheap gas are all but over.

I tried that with a thread choosing between the 9-7X and XC90.. :lol:
http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172818

And on that note.. You want a Landcruiser or XC90 V8 with the 3rd row. You always rave about the Landcruisers! ;)

Hell, I'd get a LC with 3rd-row in a heartbeat. But not likely. Why ? Excessive ride height. Wife and I both have aging parents and relatives who simply won't be able to climb up/jump down from vehicles like the Commander, LC, etc. XC90 would be better as it's a CUV.

mmmm...Land Cruiser.

http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com/pictures/VEHICLE/2009/Toyota/2009.toyota.land%20cruiser.20240457-E.jpg

Come on, Ken, just break down and just get the LC. You know you want it. ;)

See above. Trust me, I want it :D

woywitka
18-01-10, 11:22 PM
Boon, good suggestions ! I really LIKE the Commander .... true Jeep SUV if there ever was one. Armada .... not so much .... too gargantuan-looking.

Biggest issue I have with these large-/full-sized SUVs ..... fuel economy (economy being the oxymoron here). Why ? Regular gas here is Cdn$1.10/liter at the moment. Lowest in the past 4-5 years may have been about $0.90/liter, and as we all know those days of cheap gas are all but over.



Hell, I'd get a LC with 3rd-row in a heartbeat. But not likely. Why ? Excessive ride height. Wife and I both have aging parents and relatives who simply won't be able to climb up/jump down from vehicles like the Commander, LC, etc. XC90 would be better as it's a CUV.



See above. Trust me, I want it :D

Ken, consider if a car costs $5k-$6K less and uses 20% more fuel over the course of a year it will end up costing you the same in the end.

sankuspr
18-01-10, 11:26 PM
why does the mdx make you want to throw up? the only reason I don't really like ours is bc it doesn't have a stick shift and it doesn't corner like my Z (so yeah, not really a valid complaint on the latter)
I dunno, i just don't like it. Kind of how some people like mayo and some don't. Well, i don't like Acure and dislike the MDX in particular. Not a very useful review, i suppose.

wrestrepo
19-01-10, 07:39 AM
I'm only considering pre- 2008 models, as the '08 Highlander and MDX are fugly IMHO. Please don't advise me on other brands and models as that's not my question.


I thought you liked the freestyle?

Honda Pilot might be a more affordable option, but still has the same drawbacks. I love our Odyssey -- that's right, love it -- and aside from the two transmission replacements fixed under warranty (LULZ) it's been pretty reliable for 150,000 miles....

You can get used commanders for a AMAZING deal these days, last summer i tested an 06 fullly loaded 5.7L v8 commander and it was only ~$16,000 .... And from what i remember it had an impressive 3rd row.

Its a little boaty but the handling and fuel economy are very comparable to an XC90...

Ohh and if shes set on the asian car thing, dont forget to look at the armada which seems to have a very accomidating 3rd row..

You want a Landcruiser or XC90 V8 with the 3rd row. You always rave about the Landcruisers! ;)

mmmm...Land Cruiser.
Come on, Ken, just break down and just get the LC. You know you want it. ;)


Not bad for not wanting advise on other cars.... :)

jmcox44
19-01-10, 11:18 AM
Ken

My wife and I went and test drove a new '09 Pilot a while ago (I realize that is newer than what you want) and we absolutely loved it. For me, it is between the MDX and the Pilot. Obviously, the pilot is a little cheaper, a little bigger, and I think better on gas (haven't looked up stats). When I drove it, it felt very similar to the accord I used to own and it rides very comfortably.

The reason we were looking was to get my wife her "mommy" car when we have kids. I told her that we will only buy 3 yrs old and older. So since we test drove the '09, it will be a good purchase in '12. ;)

On a different note, a good friend of mine works at the Toyota dealership here in Waco and says that the Highlanders fly out of the dealership. People love them. Also, you really can't go wrong with Toyotas, they are quite reliable.

Just my 0.02 cents.

SaabKen
19-01-10, 11:24 PM
Ken

My wife and I went and test drove a new '09 Pilot a while ago (I realize that is newer than what you want) and we absolutely loved it. For me, it is between the MDX and the Pilot. Obviously, the pilot is a little cheaper, a little bigger, and I think better on gas (haven't looked up stats). When I drove it, it felt very similar to the accord I used to own and it rides very comfortably.

The reason we were looking was to get my wife her "mommy" car when we have kids. I told her that we will only buy 3 yrs old and older. So since we test drove the '09, it will be a good purchase in '12. ;)

On a different note, a good friend of mine works at the Toyota dealership here in Waco and says that the Highlanders fly out of the dealership. People love them. Also, you really can't go wrong with Toyotas, they are quite reliable.

Just my 0.02 cents.

Thanks :) Helpful comments, all.

Since I now realize the Pilot is also a 7-seater, it broadens my choices considerably. A quick perusal of Craigslist confirms your comment about Pilots slightly less than MDXs. I couldn't care less, really, although the MDX's interior is considerably more stylish and less "Honda", whereas the Pilot's dash looks like it was lifted right out of an Odyssey (prolly is).

They will be my first choices. The Highlander is good 'nuff but somewhat more "pedestrian" and "Camry"-like.

mike saunders
20-01-10, 01:49 AM
Since I now realize the Pilot is also a 7-seater, it broadens my choices considerably. A quick perusal of Craigslist confirms your comment about Pilots slightly less than MDXs. I couldn't care less, really, although the MDX's interior is considerably more stylish and less "Honda", whereas the Pilot's dash looks like it was lifted right out of an Odyssey (prolly is).


Spot on. The Pilot is essentially a Odyssey with 4WD and a "butch" body. ;)

Both are built on a lengthened Accord chassis, which is actually a strong point. Both the van and the CUV have extremely car-like handling...but with the same HP and TQ as a 9-5 Aero ;)

You'll find that VTEC is a double-edged sword. The variable timing enables the engine to sip gas when driven mildly, but it sucks down the fuel when you put your foot in it.

lscrx
20-01-10, 02:03 AM
...Both are built on a lengthened Accord chassis, which is actually a strong point. Both the van and the CUV have extremely car-like handling...but with the same HP and TQ as a 9-5 Aero ;)

+1 My dad had a 1st gen Odyssey (with the 2.3 I4 Accord motor) and it handled way better than a minivan should, it was hella slow but it made up for it when the road curved.

You'll find that VTEC is a double-edged sword. The variable timing enables the engine to sip gas when driven mildly, but it sucks down the fuel when you put your foot in it.

My 9-3 has something like that... except I think it's called "turbo" :lol:

SaabKen
20-01-10, 02:31 AM
Spot on. The Pilot is essentially a Odyssey with 4WD and a "butch" body. ;)

Both are built on a lengthened Accord chassis, which is actually a strong point. Both the van and the CUV have extremely car-like handling...but with the same HP and TQ as a 9-5 Aero ;)

You'll find that VTEC is a double-edged sword. The variable timing enables the engine to sip gas when driven mildly, but it sucks down the fuel when you put your foot in it.

Hmm, I would have thought the VTEC engines are all good on gas. No free lunch I guess.

MDX/Pilot it is ! Unless later my wife puts her foot down for the Odyssey (not my fave scenario, but I can think of worse), I'll be happy with either MDX or Pilot.

Thanks again for all your constructive comments and tips, everyone.

SpecialTool
20-01-10, 05:06 AM
C'mon Ken, you don't want to be just another #&#$% in a soft-roader. Go for the Odyssey, it's a great car.

SaabKen
20-01-10, 10:25 AM
C'mon Ken, you don't want to be just another #&#$% in a soft-roader. Go for the Odyssey, it's a great car.

Given the choice, I'd rather be just another #&#$% in a soft-roader than just another #&#$% in an Odyssey :o:cheesy:

wrestrepo
20-01-10, 10:33 AM
You'll find that VTEC is a double-edged sword. The variable timing enables the engine to sip gas when driven mildly, but it sucks down the fuel when you put your foot in it.

:confused: Isn't that the way that all engines work?

On a serious note, you do need to keep the revs up for the VTEC to "work". But given the fact that you are purchasing an SUV I don't think that you will doing any drag racing....

mike saunders
20-01-10, 10:39 AM
:confused: Isn't that the way that all engines work?

On a serious note, you do need to keep the revs up for the VTEC to "work". But given the fact that you are purchasing an SUV I don't think that you will doing any drag racing....

LOL....;)

(Although it's definitely a hoot to turn the minivan into a tire-squaling monster at stoplights....)

And you're right about the VTEC activating high in the rev range. The cool part is that the entire engine note changes into a throaty roar. The bad part is that you can only do that a few times before you notice the hit on gas consumption. A 4-cyl with turbo is definitely more thrifty than a 3.5L V6....

wrestrepo
20-01-10, 10:48 AM
A 4-cyl with turbo is definitely more thrifty than a 3.5L V6....

Wrong again :D (just kidding...kind-a)

My freaking RDX has terrible fuel economy. I traveled to my in-laws for Christmas and during those days I got to drive my sister in laws' new Pilot. WE GOT THE SAME MPGs (according to the trip computer). I have to add that the new Pilot has the cylinder de-activation thing for added economy.

mike saunders
20-01-10, 11:02 AM
Wrong again :D (just kidding...kind-a)

My freaking RDX has terrible fuel economy. I traveled to my in-laws for Christmas and during those days I got to drive my sister in laws' new Pilot. WE GOT THE SAME MPGs (according to the trip computer). I have to add that the new Pilot has the cylinder de-activation thing for added economy.


A fair point....I should have been more specific about making a comparison between Ken's existing car and the Pilot, and my 9-5 and the Odyssey, not the RDX and the Pilot.

SaabKen
20-01-10, 11:24 AM
A fair point....I should have been more specific about making a comparison between Ken's existing car and the Pilot, and my 9-5 and the Odyssey, not the RDX and the Pilot.

My driving is 90% urban. I get 17-21mpg city, 30+ mpg highway. That's US gallons too, not imperial gallons.