SUV Drag Race! Is the Acura MDX Faster Than the Honda Pilot?

If you are shopping for a reliable three-row SUV, then either the Honda Pilot or the Acura MDX would likely be on your shortlist. But the hard part is the fact that both SUVs are pretty identical when it comes their features and mechanics and they even closely resemble each other in the looks department. But if you had to pick between both of them, which would you choose?

Fortunately, the guys over at The Fast Lane Car did a comparison between the two popular SUVs, including a small drag race, to detail the differences between them.

Acura MDX vs Honda Pilot

2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition
2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition | Honda

The two iterations of the SUVs that TFL tested were the 2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition, which is the ultimate top trim, and the 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec, which is the sporty variant of the luxury SUV. The differences between the two as far as looks are almost night and day. And they noted that the sinister-looking Pilot has a larger rear side window in the third row than the MDX, which provides a better viewing angle when backing up. However, they felt that the MDX looked better, especially in its A-Spec form.

2019 Acura MDX driving down dusty road
2020 Acura MDX A-Spec | Acura

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The engines are nearly identical

All Honda Pilots are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. On the other end of the coin, the MDX is powered by a nearly identical 3.5-liter V6 engine to the one found in the Pilot, however, this one puts out 10 more horsepower and 5 more lb-ft of torque. The MDX also has a nine-speed automatic transmission that transmits power to all four wheels via the brand’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).

2021 Honda Pilot 3.5-liter engine
2021 Honda Pilot 3.5-liter engine | Honda

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The interiors are pretty different

While both SUVs are similar in size, the Honda Pilot feels just a little more spacious than the MDX. The guys at TFL pointed out that the overall headroom and legroom in the Pilot were a little more generous than in the MDX, especially in the second and third rows, and the infotainment system in the Pilot is much easier to use as well. They also noted that the increase in interior space in the Pilot is partly due to the fact that the car is 3.2 inches taller than the MDX. However, they did like the sportier red and black interior in the MDX, thanks to the A-Spec package.

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The drag race

The TFL guys then drag raced both SUVS using some instrumented testing. They lined up both evenly and raced them up to 60 mph. In the first race, the Acura MDX came out on top by a small margin, however, it was able to knock off a 0-60 mph time of 7.87 seconds. For the second drag race, they switched drivers and ran both SUVs up to 60 mph again.

This time, they noted that the Pilot clicked of a 7.96-second run, with the MDX beating it again by a small margin. As it turns out, that small bump in horsepower and torque – and possibly the SH-AWD system – can make a difference, even in a large SUV like the Acura MDX and Honda Pilot.