Full 2014 Honda Pilot Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Honda Pilot sees no changes.
The 2014 Honda Pilot isn't the newest kid on the block. In contrast to many recently redesigned, large crossover SUV rivals, the Pilot remains largely unchanged since the second-generation model debuted back in 2009. Its age proves to be a disadvantage in a few key areas, though the 2014 Pilot still merits consideration, especially if you need seating for eight.
The big appeal about the 2014 Pilot is space. There's plenty of room on the inside. Even the third-row seats can accommodate adults, making this a true eight-passenger vehicle. And while the Pilot's boxy architecture may not win it any style points, it allows for a more usefully shaped cargo bay and ultimately makes life more convenient: Just drop those rear seats and you're ready to load up at Costco and Home Depot.
But the Honda's bulk hurts its performance, which is a step or two behind its more fleet-footed rivals. Further, this Honda's plush ride over broken pavement is offset by lazy handling around turns. The Pilot also shows its age in regard to feature availability. For example, you can't get blind-spot monitoring, keyless ignition/entry or second-row captain's chairs: useful features that are offered on competing crossovers.
Given that, we do suggest that you check out the competition. The Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Pathfinder both have comfortable three-row seating plus markedly more appealing interior designs. The same is true of the Chevy Traverse, which is even roomier and also capable of seating eight. If you're looking for more engaging performance, the Dodge Durango and Mazda CX-9 would be better choices. But if utility and a reputation for reliability are your primary desires, this segment's elder statesman still holds appeal.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Honda Pilot is a large, eight-passenger crossover SUV. It's sold in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring.
The 2014 Pilot's base LX trim comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, 60/40-split second- and third-row seats, an 8-inch center display screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Pilot EX adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors (AWD models) and an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar adjustment).
Moving to the Pilot EX-L brings leather upholstery, a sunroof, a power liftgate, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and satellite radio. The EX-L can be had with an available rear-seat entertainment system or a voice-activated navigation system. Note that this is an either/or proposition, as they can't be had together in an EX-L.
The top-of-the-line Touring trim features both of those EX-L options, as well as roof rails, parking sensors (for the rear and front corners), driver seat memory functions, a 115-volt power outlet and a 10-speaker premium sound system as standard equipment.
Powertrains and Performance
Regardless of trim level, all 2014 Honda Pilots use the same powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque that runs through a five-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but any Pilot can be ordered with an all-wheel-drive system that automatically shifts as much as 70 percent of power to the rear wheels if the front tires begin to slip. A driver-selectable "lock" feature routes maximum torque to the rear wheels in 1st or 2nd gear at low speeds to help free a stuck Pilot.
Edmunds performance testing saw an all-wheel-drive Pilot Touring accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, while a front-wheel-drive model did it in 8.3. Both are a bit slower than average. The Pilot's EPA-estimated economy stands at 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) for front-drive models and 20 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway) for AWD variants.
A front-drive Pilot can tow 2,000 pounds, while the all-wheel-drive models are rated for 4,500 pounds when properly equipped.
The 2014 Honda Pilot's standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also standard, and the Touring comes with parking sensors.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Pilot came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet. This is longer than average for a midsize to large three-row crossover.
In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Pilot earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side-impact crashes. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Pilot earned the top "Good" rating in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design also earns a Good rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The biggest knock against the Honda Pilot's interior is the generally downmarket appearance of the cabin trim -- it's a couple steps down from the nicely appointed Honda Accord. Otherwise, the 2014 Pilot has a useful interior design with thoughtful details and clearly presented instrumentation. The standard automatic climate control helps reduce the number of buttons and knobs on the center stack, as does the 8-inch information screen for all trims. However, some of the controls have a chintzy feel and appearance.
Unlike some other three-row crossovers, the Pilot's third row provides genuinely acceptable room for adults. Unfortunately, the seat cushions for the second and third rows are too low, forcing longer-legged passengers into more of a squatting, knees-up position. The Chevy Traverse and Ford Flex are much more comfortable in this regard. That said, if you truly need eight-passenger capacity, the Pilot, along with the Traverse, is one of your few options in the crossover SUV class.
With the second- and third-row seats stowed, the Pilot can hold up to 87 cubic feet of cargo. This figure is technically less than some rivals, but the Pilot's boxy shape works to its advantage, allowing it to more easily accept bulkier items with ease. For smaller items, there are plenty of thoughtful storage bins and pockets throughout the cabin.
On the move, the 2014 Honda Pilot feels like a heavy and large vehicle. On paper, the Pilot's 250-hp V6 engine looks like enough motivation for this family SUV, but in the real world, it rarely feels like it. Some of the performance deficit is attributable to the slow-shifting five-speed automatic transmission, and some can be chalked up to the Pilot's sheer heft.
Overall agility is also in short supply. Around corners and in tight spaces, the Pilot feels cumbersome due to its slow steering and boxy dimensions. But most of the time the 2014 Pilot is reasonably pleasant to drive, with a cushy ride that readily soaks up ruts and bumps. The interior stays quiet on the highway, too.