FINALLY, a Honda Pilot I can love! It has been a long time coming, but Honda has a contender in the red-hot large SUV segment.
Don’t get me wrong, the last two generations of Pilot were great, quality wise, but come up very short in the styling department. Honda designers have done an outstanding job for 2016 with the interior and exterior appearance of the Honda Pilot.
Let’s start under the hood where you’ll find the tried and true Honda 3.5 Liter V6, that got a 30-horse bump for 2016 to 280-horses. It features direct-injection and cylinder displacement, meaning it runs on 3 cylinders at highway speeds. This engine falls under the Honda Earth Dreams umbrella. It also has start/stop technology, which kills the engine when you come to a stop, but allows everything else to run including the air conditioning. It is one of the best systems I have seen for smoothness, and you can turn it off.
My test Pilot has the 9-speed automatic transmission that comes in the two upper-line trim levels, everything else has a 6-speed automatic. The 9-speed shifts really well and doesn’t feel like it is searching for the proper gear like some I have driven. You can shift it from steering wheel paddles, or from the pushbuttons on the center console. This feature takes a little getting used to, but makes the console look clean, and it saves space.
The exterior of the 2016 Pilot is night and day different from the boxy 2015 and older models. 20” wheels, a sharp front end with a short hood, and clean rear end with a rear spoiler make the Pilot look sporty and stylish.
Then you open the door and see a very sharp interior, that is plush, yet simple, and it offers an exceptional use of space.
This is the top-of-the-line Elite package, and it has the all-wheel drive system that makes it drive and handle great, partly due to a torque vectoring system that shifts power around from front to back and side to side.
Back to the interior, the 2016 has more soft-touch materials, and the leather seats are very comfortable. Everything I point out on this Pilot comes with the Elite package. There is not a single option on this vehicle. There are four trim levels under this one, the entry-level LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring.
The dash layout is logical and clean. The gauge outline is lit by white lights that turn green when you are conserving fuel. In the center of the dash is an 8” touchscreen interface for the entertainment and audio systems. It comes with Bluetooth and Pandora, and real-time traffic. I would prefer knobs for volume and channel surfing, but it has none. The system is a little slow to react and is a little distracting. Luckily, everything can be done on the heated steering wheel. The Elite features an exceptional Garmin-based navigation system. The climate control system is separate from the audio systems and works well.
I love the center console that features a rolling door, and when closed makes a great place to sit things.
The Pilot has a huge amount of cubby holes and lot’s of cup holders. As you look up, you find a power moon roof for the front passengers, then a large panoramic glass roof with a power cover for back seat occupants. Second row passengers can raise rear window shades to keep the interior cooler.
Moving to the second row seats, the Elite features captain chairs with a center console that offers good room. A button on the sides of the seat folds the seat down for entrance to the third row, and a grab assist helps people get into the 3rd row seat easier. Third row seating is also roomy enough for two adults or three children comfortably due to the additional 3 ½ inches of length on the 2016 Pilot.
Moving to the rear, you get a power liftgate that will work from the remote or with the touch of a button. Straps attached to the 3rd row seat make it really easy to lower and raise the 60/40 3rd row seats. The second row seats will lay down also, making the entire rear area very flat.
At the very back of the Pilot is a reversible cargo lid that lays flush with the floor, or you can place it lower for a huge storage area for groceries etc.
Other notable standard features include a Blue Ray DVD player with headphones, rearview camera, parking sensors, pushbutton start, and remote start, dual heated and cooled front power seats, heated second row seats, and adaptive cruise control.
The Pilot is also full of safety features including emergency braking system, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and blind spot monitoring.
The 2016 Pilot drives and handles great and is super quiet inside. It is roomy and for it’s size is fuel-efficient at 19 in town and 26 on the highway, especially good considering its size and the fact it is all-wheel drive. It is rated to tow 5000 pounds and it runs on regular fuel.
This model falls inline price-wise to two competitors that I love, the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander.
This one has an MSRP of $47,300 but again I emphasize the level of standard equipment. I can’t think of a single thing that this one doesn’t have.
If you are in the market for a large SUV with a lot of interior room and want exceptional quality, this 3rd generation Honda Pilot has got to be on your consideration list.
What I liked most: The interior and overall functionality.
What I would change: I would prefer knobs for the radio.
MSRP: Base price $47300, as equipped $47,300.
Fuel Economy: EPA rated at 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined.
Fuel Tank: 19.5 gallons of regular fuel.
Dimensions: 194” long/79” wide/70” high.
Weight: 4317 Pounds
2016 Honda Pilot in a few words: A great SUV, great interior, great value.
Trailer Towing: 5000-pound capacity.
Warranty: 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 5 year/60,000 miles on the powertrain.
Miles When Tested: 3600
Manufacturer’s website: Honda
-Jerry Reynolds, The Car Pro
Photo Credit: Honda