Two big sellers in the market of 7- and 8-passenger SUVs have been the Acura MDX and the Honda Pilot. Pitting these two against each other may seem like a mismatch

considering the difference in price. But there have been several manufacturers over the years who have proven that price does not always reflect comfort, reliability, and safety. Dollar signs do not always equal value, and it’s value that we strive for. After researching all the usual stops at Car and Driver, Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Motor Trend, let’s break these two 2010-2011 sport-utility dynamos down by category and see who wins the prize of best value.

Powertrain: Both models come standard with a V6, the 3.7L for the MDX and the 3.5L for the Pilot. The MDX wields more horsepower and torque as well as a six-speed

transmission, compared to Honda’s five-speed. The MDX comes with standard AWD while the Pilot leaves it available as an option. This could be the big reason that fuel efficiency goes to Honda, but just barely at 17/23 mpg (city/highway) compared to 16/21 mpg from the Acura. Towing capacity also goes to the MDX at 5,000 lbs. properly equipped; the Pilot’s max is 3,500 lbs.

Winner: Acura MDX

Braking/Safety/Handling: There’s no doubt that braking goes to the MDX as this has been a weak point for Honda recently. The Pilot came to stop from 60 mph in 149 feet. That’s an enormous distance for a vehicle this size. The MDX braking features collision detection which can actually apply hard braking if a collision seems imminent. Both vehicles scored a perfect five stars in government crash tests. The MDX utilizes torque shifting, moving power to needed wheels on hard cornering, while the Pilot’s handling can be rather cumbersome.

Winner: Acura MDX

Cargo/Hauling: Neither vehicle is lacking for seating space as even larger passengers could fit comfortably into both third-row seats, though the MDX’s third-row is better suited to kids. The Pilot does win out in cargo space though, accommodating 87 cubic feet compared to Acura’s 83.5. Both vehicles offer a power liftgate.

Winner: Honda Pilot

Comfort/Interior: The seating in the rear of the MDX can be somewhat of a tight fit on longer journeys, a problem the Pilot does not seem to possess. The one drawback to the Pilot’s seating is that the seats are rather low to the floor, making taller passengers ride in a “knees-up” position. Both vehicles have an array of small buttons on the center console which take some getting used to. This category could actually be a tie if it weren’t for some questionable plastic materials used inside the Pilot.

Winner: Acura MDX

Amenities/Options: The Pilot does offer more trim levels, thanks in part to its 4WD being made an option instead of standard equipment, and it also possesses several of the luxury amenities offered in the MDX. Bluetooth, rearview camera, heated front seats, tri-zone climate control, and a 10-speaker sound system are available with either vehicle. The MDX seems to have the better technology when it comes to gadgetry, and the price of the Technology package seems to be well below what Honda’s runs the MSRP up to.

Winner: Acura MDX

Value for the $: The MSRP on the MDX starts off at $42,230, no small chunk of change compared to the Pilot’s starting price of $27,895. However, fully loaded, the options take the Acura up roughly $12,000 while the Pilot fully-loaded increases more than $13,000 to $40,245.

Winner: If you’ve got the extra cash, the MDX is the clear winner in value. While the Honda does offer more space, the Acura offers the best of everything else, including exterior style.

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