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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We use to lease a 2016 Acura MDX and loved it except it's shifting was weird and just not smooth. We later leased a 2019 MDX and the shifting was much better. Now we're looking at buying a used 2016 or later Honda Pilot because it offers pretty much the same things, has more space (especially the 3rd row) and is more affordable. We understand Acura and Honda have similar parts, however we don't want to get a model that has the same weird shifting behavior like we experienced with the 2016 MDX (akin to the 2019 MDX would be nice). Which trim, model and/or year should we target to avoid the weird shifting behavior?


P.S. - The shifting behavior we experienced was the sensation of acceleration while coasting and feeling like the car didn't know when to shift up or down - not the violent jerky stuff owners posted on YouTube years ago (though we'd like to avoid trims/models/years with that behavior too).
 

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Go with an EXL for the 6 speed. I think in 2020 they all started getting the 9 speed. Starting in 2019 the 9 speed had some upgrades that made it much smoother than the 2016-2018 9 speeds. I'm a fan of the 6 speed and think it will be much more reliable in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Go with an EXL for the 6 speed. I think in 2020 they all started getting the 9 speed. Starting in 2019 the 9 speed had some upgrades that made it much smoother than the 2016-2018 9 speeds. I'm a fan of the 6 speed and think it will be much more reliable in the long run.
For the 6 speed EX-L trim, which model years? Also, did Honda simply carry over the 2nd gen 6 speed to the 3rd gen 6 speed models? I ask because we test drove a 2nd gen. 2014 Pilot Touring and then a 3rd gen. 2018 Touring and the latter's acceleration was better and overall driving was smoother (I assume this is because it has the 9 speed transmission).

If the 6 speed is indeed different between the 2nd and 3rd gen models and if the 2016 through 2019 9 speed IS working properly, does it accelerate better than the 2016 to 2019 6 speed?
 

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It definitely would pay you, if you prefer the 9speed, to get as new a one as possible. The 16’s really blotted their copy book.
Maybe a lease return with good service record?
 

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The second gen ('09-'15) had a 5 speed and 250ish hp/tq. The third gen gained a 6 speed on the lower models (EX-L and below) and 9 speed on the higher models with the same engine producing 30ish+ more hp and improved tq. I believe in '21 all Pilots gained the 9 speed.

To be honest, the only complaints about the 9 speed were in the first couple model years, maybe into '18. Honda likely improved hardware and software every year but in '19 made a big deal about the changes. We really haven't heard any complaints since.

My money, I'm staying away from a '16-'17 (maybe '18) 9 speed. Any other transmission or year I'd have no problem getting it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My money, I'm staying away from a '16-'17 (maybe '18) 9 speed. Any other transmission or year I'd have no problem getting it.
Fudge! Didn't see this reply until I got home. We got a '17 Elite (9 speed). The previous 5+ Pilots we were scheduled to go check out ALL sold before we could get to the dealerships or used car lots. Plus now the prices are more than a couple of thousand higher than what they were a little over month ago when we started looking. We just... I don't know, wanted to be done with all I guess.

I did feel some meh-ness of the shifting as the '16 MDX, but not the sense of surge while coasting and other more prominent shifting weirdness. It's 5 years old now with 40K miles so since the super weird and/or jerky transmission issue hasn't reared it's ugly head yet that's a good sign it won't happen hopefully. And if it does, hopefully that transmission reset trick is all that's needed to mitigate the problem. Well, here goes nothing.

Thanks for your help and feedback everyone
 

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Fudge! Didn't see this reply until I got home. We got a '17 Elite (9 speed). The previous 5+ Pilots we were scheduled to go check out ALL sold before we could get to the dealerships or used car lots. Plus now the prices are more than a couple of thousand higher than what they were a little over month ago when we started looking. We just... I don't know, wanted to be done with all I guess.

I did feel some meh-ness of the shifting as the '16 MDX, but not the sense of surge while coasting and other more prominent shifting weirdness. It's 5 years old now with 40K miles so since the super weird and/or jerky transmission issue hasn't reared it's ugly head yet that's a good sign it won't happen hopefully. And if it does, hopefully that transmission reset trick is all that's needed to mitigate the problem. Well, here goes nothing.

Thanks for your help and feedback everyone
No big deal! My suggestion for absolutely any automatic transmission is to keep the fluid fresh (I do a 30k interval on all of my cars). I would call the Honda dealer and see if they have updated software (they should unless yours already has it). From what I understand, most of the weird behavior was due to software. IMO, even if they charge an hour of a techs time it's worth it.
 

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I believe all the funky shifts started with the 6 speed. I prefer the 5-speed that works well on full synthetic Valvoline MaxLife ATF.
 

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Fudge! Didn't see this reply until I got home. We got a '17 Elite (9 speed). The previous 5+ Pilots we were scheduled to go check out ALL sold before we could get to the dealerships or used car lots. Plus now the prices are more than a couple of thousand higher than what they were a little over month ago when we started looking. We just... I don't know, wanted to be done with all I guess.

I did feel some meh-ness of the shifting as the '16 MDX, but not the sense of surge while coasting and other more prominent shifting weirdness. It's 5 years old now with 40K miles so since the super weird and/or jerky transmission issue hasn't reared it's ugly head yet that's a good sign it won't happen hopefully. And if it does, hopefully that transmission reset trick is all that's needed to mitigate the problem. Well, here goes nothing.

Thanks for your help and feedback everyone
I just bought the same year elite with roughly the same miles. Already ordered all new fluids including the tranny 3.1 fluid. S-VCM will be next. Hoping it holds up!
 
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