The Honda Pilot stands out as one of the roomiest, most comfortable and fuel-efficient three-row crossover on the market. All new for the latest model year, the Pilot's overall versatility means that it deserves a close look from buyers who need serious space but can't quite stomach the thought of a minivan.
Longer and up to 300 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the third-gen Pilot boasts a streamlined look that borrows styling cues from Honda's latest design language. Its front end features swept-back headlights inspired by the smaller CR-V, a three-slat radiator grille and a sculpted hood, while its back end is characterized by boomerang-shaped tail lamps that create a less utilitarian look.
The Pilot's large dimensions make for a supremely practical interior with loads of real estate. A generous 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space are available behind the third row of seats, a figure that swells to 55.9 cubes with the third row folded and 109 cubic feet if the second row gets folded, too.
If carrying passengers rather than cargo is the task, the spacious second row slides forward for increased ease of access to the third row, which supplies enough knee room for an above-average-sized adult male to fit comfortably. Total capacity across all three rows is eight passengers, and the second and third rows are 60/40 split folding to facilitate a mix of people and gear.
In terms of design, the cabin is straightforward in its layout, with simple, easy-to-use controls. All Pilots save for the base LX models ship with a high-definition eight-inch touch screen that runs Honda's Android-based Display Audio infotainment system, which reduce button clutter by integrating controls for the stereo and navigation system (when equipped). Display Audio includes a Tune Start function, which acts as a DVR for the radio, a Sports Flash function, that lets passengers store up to five teams and get automatic updates, and Tune Mix, which pulls the passengers' favorite songs from Sirius XM and combines them into a single station.
Though its handling is best described as laid-back, the Pilot does score points for impressive V6 fuel efficiency of 20/23 mpg for the front-wheel drive model and 19/22 mpg when equipped with all-wheel drive. The 3.5-liter produces 280 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard on LX, EX, and EX-L models, while Touring and Elite trims benefit from a fuel-saving push-button nine-speed gearbox.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Pilot is offered in five trim levels called LX, EX, EX-L Touring and Elite, respectively.
LX models come standard with the aforementioned six-speed automatic transmission, hill-start assist, 18-inch alloy wheels, a compact spare tire, daytime running lights, a rear-view camera, tinted windows, auto-off halogen headlights, black door handles and mirrors, remote entry, a push-button ignition, A/C, cruise control, power windows and locks, auto up/down front windows, a tilt and telescoping steering column, a capless fuel filler, Bluetooth connectivity, a 200-watt sound system with seven speakers, a five-inch LCD screen and a 4.2-inch color LCD screen in the instrument cluster.
EX models bring a remote engine starter, Honda's Intelligent Traction Management technology, LED daytime running lights, body-colored door handles and mirrors, a rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines, Honda Lane Watch, automatic headlights, fog lights, a Homelink Transceiver, illuminated vanity mirrors up front, a multi-function steering wheel, a ten-way power-adjustable driver's seat, Sirius XM Radio, Pandora compatibility, additional USB ports, a 225-watt stereo and an eight-inch touch screen.
Stepping up to the EX-L trim adds a power tailgate, a one-touch moonroof with a tilt feature, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats and one-touch second-row seats.
Touring models up the ante with a start/stop system, a nine-speed automatic transmission, 20-inch alloys, a Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, chromed door handles, roof rails, parking sensors on both ends, LED turn signals integrated into the mirrors, a Blu-ray player for the rear passengers, second-row sun shades, ambient lighting, USB ports with high-speed charging, a 540-watt sound system with 10 speakers, illuminated front cupholders and navigation.
Finally, Elite models come fully loaded with automatic high beams, automatic LED headlights, a blind spot monitoring system, a panoramic roof, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, second row captain's chairs and HD radio.
The Pilot protects its occupants with front, front side and three-row curtain airbags, active front seat head restraints and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist. Vehicle Stability Assist, Honda-speak for electronic stability control, is standard on all models.
Touring and Elite models come standard with additional driving aids including Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning.
Prospective Pilot owners should also check out the Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango and Toyota Highlander before making a final decision on a three-row crossover.