2013 Honda Pilot EX-L w/Nav SUV (3.5L V6 4x4 5-speed Automatic)
Driven On 4/24/2012
The 2013 Honda Pilot is a marvel of interior packaging and flexibility, with considerably more usable storage, cargo and people space than the numbers suggest. An aging interior, sluggish performance and simply average fuel economy, however, keep the Pilot from earning a higher rating.
PerformanceThe Honda Pilot soldiers on with a 3.5-liter, 250-hp V6 and a five-speed automatic, together delivering adequate performance at best. The Pilot's handling and braking are below the segment leaders, but should be satisfactory to the majority of drivers.
At 8.9-seconds to 60 mph, the 4WD Pilot is slower than average. Blame its wide gear spacing and a V6 with power weighted toward the upper revs. It's smooth, but slow even in normal driving.
Panic stop distances are longer than others in the segment and we experienced some smoke from the rotors and significant nosedive. Pedal travel is long and progressive.
The steering effort in the Pilot is quite light and doesn't offer a lot of feedback. The turning circle is quite tidy at 37.9 feet.
The Pilot 4WD has soft suspenson, light steering and weighs 4,500 pounds. It doesn't feel quite at home on twisting mountain roads, and it was a bit ponderous in our slalom test.
Tried and true, the 3.5-liter V6 and 5-speed transmission combination is smooth, even if the gearshifts do feel far apart these days. Ease of use is the name of the game here.
Properly equipped, the Pilot can essentially tow it's own weight (almost) at 4,500-pound maximum. But don't expect it to move out quickly.
Strut/multilink suspension, available locking all-wheel drive, and modest underbody clearance is adequate for foul roads, but not the kind of off-roading you see in Jeep commercials.
ComfortA well-controlled ride, surprisingly quiet interior and standard tri-zone climate control highlight a vehicle centered around comfort.
The driver's seat features 10-way adjustment with lumbar support while the passeger gets 4-way, both power and both heated. Second and third row seats feature actual headroom. Thank the boxy styling.
Not as supple as a luxury SUV (it is a Honda afterall) but markedly better than most of its mainstream brethren, the Pilot soaks up all but the most punishing surfaces.
With its passive and active noise cancellation the Pilot is one of the quietest SUVs we've tested. When stressed, the engine noise does creep into the cabin. Par for the course, really.
InteriorThe 3-row Honda Pilot offers plenty of room for bulky cargo or seats for up to 8 people. Outstanding interior flexibility and a utilitarian shape means this thing is far more useful than the numbers suggest.
Even with an update for 2013, the infotainment system and center stack are still cluttered and problematic, but the main controls, stalks and dials in the Pilot are clear and obvious.
For its class, the Pilot has a fairly average step-in hight, but it's noticably higher than something like a minivan. Second row access is very good, but getting into the third row requires some agility.
The cabin feels (and is) large and airy. Seating areas are wide and open, even the third row which is traditionally cramped. Ample head and leg room.
Because the Pilot's thick pillars and high driving position impair side and rear visibility, a rear-view camera is now standard. No blind-spot/lane departure monitors.
Myriad cubbies, 12 cupholders, but only 18 cu-ft of luggage space behind third row. 48 cu-ft behind the second row, and a whopping 87 cubes with all rear seats stowed. Easy to use and pack.
ValueWith a nearly $42,000 as-tested price, the Pilot AWD Touring faces stiff competition from nearly every corner of the globe, most of which have more advanced engines, cleaner interiors and better materials. Few offer more functional space, however.
Build Quality (vs. $)
There was nothing wrong with the build quality of our Pilot AWD Touring, but for more than $42,000, one would expect better materials and surface treatments. The base 2WD LX starts just below $30,000.
Features such as tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth phone/audio, hi-res display, USB, and rear-view camera are standard for 2013. This loaded model gets leather, a power liftgate and parking sensors.
Our 2013 Honda Pilot AWD Touring with rear-seat entertainment rang up at over $42,000. While this is appropriate for the top end of the segment, most competitors have an upgraded drivetrain to match.
At 20 mpg Combined (17 City/24 Hwy), the Honda Pilot AWD is about average for this size SUV. However, competitors offer more powerful engines.
With 3 years/36,000 miles on the basic and 5 years/60,000 miles on the powertrain warranties, the Honda Pilot doesn't offer a very competitive warranty for the segment.
No-charge scheduled maintenance and/or roadside assistance are not included.
Fun To DriveFun? Not really. But if you're looking for a large SUV with an untaxing driving experience and a huge, flexible interior then the Pilot is for you. Otherwise, there are more capable choices in this highly competitive segment. Or consider a minivan.
With many of the cargo/passenger qualities of a minivan but with some of the parking/visibility downsides of an SUV, the Pilot is a mixed bag that's reluctant to take sides.
Like most large crossovers, the Pilot is a minivan wrapped in a two-box SUV wrapper. While it's not overly rugged, it doesn't suffer from the ride-quality or fuel economy pitfalls that truck-like vehicles bring.