The 2016 Honda Pilot gets a full makeover that gives it much more of a crossover SUV look than it previously had, but it also adds some interior space and a more powerful engine.
For those of us who are partial to more truck-like SUVs (a dwindling breed), it might take some getting used to seeing the more rounded edges and overall softer look that the new Pilot has. But, there is now consistency across the Honda lineup as it relates to SUVs. The brand new HR-V compact crossover, CR-V crossover and now the Pilot share a design language that is very similar.
The engine in the Pilot is a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 280 horsepower (an upgrade of 30 hp) and is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission in the LX, EX and EX-L models. The higher trim Touring and Elite models have a nine-speed automatic. The engine now includes cylinder deactivation, which essentially turns the V-6 into a four-cylinder for the purpose of fuel economy. The Touring and Elite models also have the stop/start engine feature, which essentially shuts the engine off when the vehicle is stopped at stop lights, also to save fuel. Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg city, 26 highway on the LX, EX and EX-L models, with the Touring and Elite models rated at 20 and 27.
Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive being optional. Handling and ride quality remain largely the same from the previous year’s model, which is to say not too bad for an SUV of this size. The ride overall is smooth and steady, with the comfort that most drivers have come to expect with today’s family vehicles.
In addition to the more rounded edges of this version, there are also changes to the headlight clusters and grille that bring it more in line with its smaller sibling SUVs. Optional features include 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and a panoramic glass moonroof.
Interior styling has been altered somewhat, too, but seating configuration remains largely the same. The Pilot seats eight passengers in its three rows of seating if you opt for a bench seat on the second row, or seven passengers if you choose captain’s chairs in the second row. The third row is easily accessed with the bench seating by the press of a button that folds the seat.
One thing that surprised us was the inclusion of an optional Blu-ray entertainment system for the back seats. We haven’t seen much of those lately, as most automakers have acknowledged that tablets, laptops and phones are the most popular devices for mobile watching of videos. To look up at the Pilot’s ceiling and see the retractable screens gave us flashbacks to the mid 2000s.
With plenty of safety and convenience technology, the Pilot also delivers the peace of mind and conveniences that are big selling points for family vehicle drivers.
The Pilot is priced starting at around $31,000 and ranges to close to $48,000. With the outstanding quality that Honda has long been known for and a new design that might appeal to those in search of a good family vehicle, the new Pilot seems poised to continue the success that it has enjoyed for a number of years.