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Old 12-02-2010, 12:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
A W
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Default Honda 4WD vs. Subaru AWD

I'm comparing a 2004 Subaru Forester XT (auto) to a 2003-04 Honda Pilot EX (4WD). I'm curious what the differences are in terms of what one can do and the other can't (i.e. light off-roading, traction control comparison, severe weather conditions, etc.).

Apparently the Honda Pilot has traction control but that seems to be the case only because it's FWD until the car senses wheel slippage and then sends power to the rear wheels. It's supposedly capable of transferring torque from 100:0 to 30:70 front to rear I guess? I'm considering the Honda Pilot since it has traction control while the Subaru Forester doesn't have traction control (for those model years).

Has anyone ever gone over this comparison before? I'm kind of curious because the Honda Pilot is a bit bigger than the Forester but I'm not so sure that added cargo capacity is worth it in terms of getting from point A to point.

I've been reading around on multiple forums and some people have quoted around a $3000 ballpark (give or take depending on where it's done) price range for replacing the transmission on a 2003-04 Honda Pilot. That a lot more expensive than replacing a head gasket on a 2004 Subaru Forester.

I've started a similar thread on a Subaru Forester forum. Use that as a reference or starting point if you'd like. Honda VTM-4 vs. Subaru AWD - Subaru Forester Owners Forum

One reason why I'm considering a Honda Pilot is because of the lock option for the VTM-4. If I was in a situation as seen in the video below, how would the Honda Pilot perform and would VTM-4 Lock really help in this situation? Would I have the same experience in the Honda Pilot as I would in a Subaru Forester found in this situation?


Oh, and another question. Since the Honda Pilot is FWD until it detects wheel slippage, does that mean when you're making a tight turn, the wheels won't bind up like on a regular 4x4? Or will there be some minor wheel binding like in the Subaru Forester's case (since the Subaru Forester is AWD with a torque split of 90:10 in drive)?

Last edited by A W; 12-02-2010 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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the pilot tranny/VTM would be blowing smoke already in that situation.
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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the pilot tranny/VTM would be blowing smoke already in that situation.
Why

Much more depends on the tires you use rather than the variation in the AWD system.
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm by no means the authority on off-road prowess as it pertains to either system even though I own both. But I will tell you that my wife's Legacy (which I believe uses the same system) seems to be more reactive than the Pilot. That is, I can't feel the back end kick in until the front wheels are slipping (for example, in a situation where you're pulling out from a dead stop on a wet road).

The Pilot transfers torque every time you accelerate from a stop. So, you have varying degrees of torque at all four wheels accelerating from a stop. The VTM-4 lock, does a 50:50 fixed lock until 17mph (if I remember correctly) and has the potential to bind in turns, which is why Honda only allows its use in low gears and at low speeds.

Otherwise the system is seamless, you just step on the gas and it goes. I've owned two Pilots now (and '05 and now a '10) and have yet to find a need to use the lock.

A thorough description of the mechanics is described here:

Honda/Acura VTM-4
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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though I like the pilot part-time FWD to AWD system, it has its limitations. it will take you in any driving condition but doesn't have the off-road prowess of some "real" full time (symmetrical) or selectable 4WD system. in flat snowy road, it may be seemless but in an incline, icy(not ice!) condition, the front wheels will slide first before it engages the rear(auto) unless you have predicted ahead of time that it will slide and press the VTM button. but it is not a sustained locked 4WD system. just rheostat magnets to engage the rear continuously not for longer periods of time you are trying to get out of the ditch(hence the warning: spinning will break the VTM system).
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Old 12-02-2010, 01:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Subaru has a viscous coupling. Range Rovers had that system too for years but suffered failures after 100k.

In Subies they can last until 150k by which time the tranny is probably also shot..... So take the cost of a tranny, add an $800 VC......
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Old 12-02-2010, 02:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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but it is not a sustained locked 4WD system. just rheostat magnets to engage the rear continuously not for longer periods of time you are trying to get out of the ditch(hence the warning: spinning will break the VTM system).
Tell us more about those "rheostat magnets".
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Tell us more about those "rheostat magnets".
^ check the above link about honda/acura VTM.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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^ check the above link about honda/acura VTM.

Didn't see anything about the "rheostat magnets" you mentioned.
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocky View Post
Subaru has a viscous coupling. Range Rovers had that system too for years but suffered failures after 100k.

In Subies they can last until 150k by which time the tranny is probably also shot..... So take the cost of a tranny, add an $800 VC......
maintenance is key. "nervous" honda has VTM4 fluid every 14k miles and tranny fluid every 40k miles. if not followed, you have tranny failures at 80k miles. other manufacturers have it already at 100k mile interval maintenance.
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
I'm by no means the authority on off-road prowess as it pertains to either system even though I own both. But I will tell you that my wife's Legacy (which I believe uses the same system) seems to be more reactive than the Pilot. That is, I can't feel the back end kick in until the front wheels are slipping (for example, in a situation where you're pulling out from a dead stop on a wet road).
The Subaru Forester found in the video I posted has a different, older AWD system compared to the newer Subarus. For 2009, all Subaru cars had VDC standard on the base trims. If I recall correctly, your wife's Legacy would have an easier time getting out of the ditch from the video compared to older Subarus which do not have traction control. In the video, you can see that this Forester's rear wheels were the ones who needed to be doing the work and not the front. The regular torque spit for those Forester model years is 90:10 until you put into 2nd or 1st. Then apparently the torque split becomes 50:50 but the Forester in the video appears to be a manual. But whatever, that's not the point.

Quote:
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the pilot tranny/VTM would be blowing smoke already in that situation.
That's a bad thing, right? It's kind of ironic since the manual says to not spin the wheels too much but that the 4WD system reacts to wheel spin.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:58 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The Subaru system is a superior all wheel drive system. However, we love the VTM-4 in the Pilot. Its seamless transitioning from 2-4 wheel drive. You can't hear or feel when it engages. It just works. However, its not for serious off-roading, and was never meant to be.

As far as the Pilot tranny and VTM-4 system blowing smoke in that situation, I think sblvro is trying to blow smoke up someones you know what . Its very reliable. I can only recall one rear diff repair, and I think it was do to leaking seals. Additionally, post 2004, the trannys have also been very solid.
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Before asking if a car could get out of that ditch, I'd ask why was it in there to begin with? The Subie or the Pilot would be very well equipped for keeping you out of the ditch, unless you were being stupid.

BTW, the 03 Pilot does not have traction control. If all four wheels are on a slippery surface, like a snow-covered road, they will all spin as long as you want them too.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Not in a ditch but I've been in parking spots just as covered as that ditch and I pulled out in no trouble.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:02 PM   #15 (permalink)
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they should make the MDX AWD system for the new pilot instead of the carryover VTM4.
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