Compared: 2022 Honda Pilot vs. 2022 Acura MDX

It's a question of high performance versus day-to-day ruggedness for these three-row, midsize SUV platform twins.

Acura | Honda

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The Acura MDX and the Honda Pilot share a platform, but the details differ. Honda's three-row sport utility vehicle aims for everyday families, while the similarly-sized Acura goes after the luxury set. Acura also opts to pursue those seeking performance with a special edition of its SUV, as opposed to Honda catering to the off-road crowd.

Here's how the MDX and the Pilot midsize SUVs shake out when comparing their pricing, fuel economy, and features.


Honda Pilot vs. Acura MDX: Price

The front-wheel-drive 2022 Honda Pilot 2WD Sport is priced at just under $40,000, but it's the starting point in a lineup that includes seven distinct trim levels. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 upgrade. But serious off-road fans will want to target the mid-tier TrailSport (around $46,000), while those seeking the highest level of equipment should go after the Elite (around $52,000) or the Black Edition (around $53,000). It's worth noting that both the Elite and the Black Edition offer seating for seven versus the eight-occupant setups with other Pilots.


The front-wheel-drive 2022 Acura MDX costs about $49,000, with all-wheel drive adding $2,200 to that price. Moving to the top-of-the-range Advance trim introduces the highest standard of creature comforts for just above $63,000, while the Type S—which starts around $68,000—and Type S Advance—about $73,000—combine those features with a performance-oriented powertrain.

Each MDX can accommodate up to seven occupants, with a removable center section in the second row of seats that drops capacity to six.


Honda Pilot vs. Acura MDX: Fuel Economy

The Honda Pilot is offered with a single engine option—a 3.5L V6 generating 280 horsepower, matched with a 9-speed automatic transmission—but a few key factors affect its fuel economy. Front-wheel drive models post estimates of 20/27 mpg city/highway while adding all-wheel drive drops each of those figures by 1 mpg. The TrailSport is rated at 19/25 mpg, respectively.


The Acura MDX also starts out with a 3.5L V6, albeit one that provides 10 additional horsepower (and one more forward gear for its automatic transmission). Fuel economy is similar to the Pilot’s, showing 19/26 mpg city/highway for FWD models and 19/25 mpg when AWD is equipped. The sportier MDX Type S transitions to a 355-hp, turbocharged, 3.0L V6 that drops efficiency to an estimated 17/21 mpg.


Honda Pilot vs. Acura MDX: Features

Even with the base model, Honda's SUV is well-equipped, but the higher-tier trims present the most intriguing gear. The TrailSport adds a suspension lift while tucking all-terrain tires under its flared fenders to deliver an outdoorsy personality suitable for light off-roading. The Elite, meanwhile, packs the Pilot with enough luxury fare to challenge the lower levels of the premium segment.


The MDX can't match the Pilot TrailSport's rugged character, but it substantially ups the ante regarding street performance. Specifically, the MDX Type S includes a torque-vectoring rear differential, as well as a revised transmission designed to fire off more aggressive shifts, both of which better-distribute the Acura's higher output. The MDX also comes with an adjustable air suspension, adaptive dampers, and Brembo front brakes that work in concert with 21-inch wheels clad in sticky rubber.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.