- MSRP: $29,520
- MPG City: 18
- MPG Hwy: 25
- Seating Capacity: 8
- Rating: 7.7
For 2013, the Honda Pilot gets a standard rearview camera that feeds its image to a large 8-inch display screen. Other changes for 2013 include the addition of a triple-zone automatic climate control system and “HandsFreeLink” Bluetooth connectivity. A USB port is now included on all Pilots.
Pros and Cons
- User friendly audio and climate controls
- Spacious and comfortable first and second row seats
- Good fuel economy for its size
- Below average handling
- Interior material quality could be better
- Long stopping distances
- Class: 4dr FWD Sport Utility
- Trim: 2WD LX
- Passenger Capacity: 8
- Passenger Doors: 4
- Transmission: 6 speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive
- MPG: 18 City / 25 Hwy
- Engine: Gas V6 3.5L/212
- Horsepower: 250 @ 5700
- Torque: 253 @ 4800 3.5L/212
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options
Even the base LX model ($29,520 MSRP; $31,120 MSRP w/AWD) is generously equipped. There’s a seven-speaker audio system that includes Bluetooth functionality. 17-inch steel wheels are standard. You’ll enjoy full power accessories, cruise control, and a tilting/telescoping steering wheel the LX along with the new standard items for 2013 noted above.
The EX ($31,770 MSRP; $33,370 w/AWD) includes an upgrade to 18-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors (on the AWD version). The eight-way power driver seat is complemented by two-way power lumbar adjustments.
The EX-L ($35,020 MSRP; $36,620 w/AWD)) also comes with the 8-way power driver seat and 2-way power lumbar support, automatic on/off headlights, and fog lights. The “L” stands for leather upholstery, of course, and the front seats are heated as well. The EX-L also adds amenities like a moonroof and a power lift-gate. The EX-L can be optionally fitted with a DvD entertainment system and/or navigation.
The Touring ($39,670 MSRP; $41,270 w/AWD) model includes a two-position memory for both front seats, 10-speaker premium sound, and rear sonar sensors. The Touring model also includes the EX-L’s optional features — the DVD rear entertainment system and navigation with voice recognition.
In general, Honda bundles most important Pilot options in the four available trim levels. Full customizing is therefore less doable, but ordering is vastly simplified. One could argue that bundling the moonroof and the power liftgate in the EX-L, for example, brings these amenities to the purchaser at a lower cost.
“Pilot delivers a rewarding combination of performance, utility, and passenger accommodations. … This remains a well executed crossover and one that’s very much worth of a top spot on any family’s shopping list.”
– Consumer Guide
Overall, the … Honda Pilot still falls short of making the honor roll, though. The biggest issue remains unacceptably long stopping distances, which are significantly worse than its competitors. This, along with its sluggish acceleration, makes the Pilot tough to choose over well-rounded crossovers like the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-9.”
“It may not have the Ford Explorer’s off-road credentials or the engaging persona of the Mazda CX-9, but the 2013 Honda Pilot succeeds in its ability to provide practical-minded buyers with dependable, comfortable and efficient transportation for their families.”
– Kelley Blue Book
Performance and Powertrain
All Pilots come with the V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The current generation Pilot has been in production since the 2009 model year. Honda engineers have opted for a slightly less powerful engine in order to provide better fuel economy. Among seven and eight passenger crossover SUVs, there are engines with more power, to be sure. Honda’s 3.5 L V-6 generates 250 hp at 5700 rpm, and 253 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm. However, even the four-wheel-drive Pilot achieves an EPA highway rating of 24-mpg. That version gets 17-mpg in the city. The front-wheel drive Pilot is EPA-rated at 18-mpg in the city and 25-mpg on the highway.
Pilot buyers often prefer the stronger, tougher look because they take its off-road and towing abilities seriously. For example, the all-wheel-drive system has a “lock” mode that delivers equal power to all four wheels at under 18-mph. Also, four-wheel-drive Pilots are capable of towing up to 4500 pounds. That level of towing ability that should not be underestimated. Snowmobiles, trailered ATVs, and even modest-sized boats all fall within the range of the Pilot’s towing capacity.
Special Features and Interior Design
The large touch screen allows operation of the modern infotainment system. With the optional navigation upgrade, this system is integrated with both voice recognition and GPS. Satellite radio is yet another popular option.
The cargo capacity of the Pilot compares favorably to that of numerous competitors. If you need to haul around the children and their friends, and sometimes their sports gear, while maintaining reasonable fuel economy, the Honda Pilot can be an excellent choice. When it comes time to make a major purchase at the home improvement store, fold down the second and third rows more an impressive amount of cargo space. Once again, the more vertical design widens the available cargo area. In general, the cargo capacity approaches that of a mini-van. Those that are committed to an SUV but have an occasional need for substantial interior space often opt for the Pilot.
When it comes to rankings by size, this SUV is a bit of a “tweener.” It’s typically dubbed a mid-size SUV, and yet it offers eight-passenger seating that’s on a par with what the largest SUVs offer. Most SUVs with three rows of seats generate a bit of debate when it comes to just how “adult friendly ” the third row is. The Pilot is not exempt from this debate. Some reviewers suggest that the Pilot’s third row is in fact reasonable for adult occupants, while others feel that it’s essentially a seat for the children.
All Pilots come equipped with six airbags, stability control, traction control. The presence of side head curtain airbags that serve all three rows is a real plus. All-wheel-drive models offer the advantage of added stability on rain-slick roads, or in icy and/or snowy conditions.
The rearview camera is particularly advantageous on a vehicle with a taller stance and a more box-like design. Back out of tight spots in the lot at the mall with real confidence.
When it comes to driving a larger three-row SUV, two questions commonly arise. First, how well does the ride approximate that of a larger sedan? In other words, how car-like is the ride? Second, how stable is the vehicle in gusty winds? The Pilot’s taut suspension succeeds in balancing performance with a smooth ride. Common concerns like squat, dive, and body roll are minimized.
In “Lock Mode,” the vehicle can really perform in either deep mud or snow. The advantage of “boxy” over “sleek” is that interior cabin space is excellent, especially when it comes to shoulder room and especially when the Pilot is occupied by the maximum number of passengers.
The current generation Honda Pilot is arguably more attractive than its predecessor. Its primary exterior lines are rounded, and the overall appearance is decidedly less utilitarian than that of its predecessors. At the same time, the Pilot continues a tradition of a longer wheelbase, resulting in shorter front and rear overhangs. Of course, the advantages of a longer wheelbase are significant. First, maneuverability in tight spots is enhanced. Second, a smoother ride results.
Rugged, Spacious and Comfortable
In conclusion, this rugged and yet comfortable SUV can be a popular choice for those that value the eight-passenger configuration, which actually exceeds the capacity of most seven-passenger competitors. Amidst competing vehicles that have become sleeker in design, the Pilot defiantly retains a decidedly more traditional SUV-like appearance. Many that select the Pilot like the rugged appearance of the exterior combined with a surprisingly comfortable and spacious interior cabin. It is a large, safe vehicle with quality driving dynamics and interior comfort that is more than competitive.