2013 Honda Pilot Review
2013 Honda Pilot Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Comfortable ride
- roomy third-row seat
- above-average fuel economy, useful interior storage areas.
- Disappointing braking distances
- some cheap interior plastics
- cumbersome to drive.
The 2013 Honda Pilot is little changed, but in an effort to update its electronics feature content, several new features such as Honda's HandsFreeLink Bluetooth connection for smartphones and music players and a USB connection are standard equipment, as is a rearview camera. A revised interior center stack gets a standard 8-inch screen.
The 2013 Honda Pilot disappoints behind the wheel, but its supreme utility shouldn't be ignored.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2013 Honda Pilot LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$184/mo for Pilot LX
Avg. Midsize SUV
The midsize crossover segment is riddled with choices, many of them newer and better performing than the 2013 Honda Pilot. But as per Honda's usual approach, the Pilot's overall package makes it worthy of consideration.
For starters, the Pilot's interior is huge, befitting the minivan alternative that midsize crossovers have become for many. Its surprisingly spacious third-row seating makes it possible for as many as eight occupants to travel in comfort. Performance from the Pilot's V6 is sluggish and the five-speed automatic transmission is definitely a step behind just about everybody. On the upside, the Pilot's fuel economy is at the top of the class. A similar trade-off is at work for the 2013 Pilot's soft handling: For putting up with sleepy responses, you get a supremely cushioned ride.
We also like the 2013 Pilot's utility. The crossover's boxy sheet metal isn't likely to set many (or any) hearts aflame, but the high roof line means backseaters have plenty of headroom. And with the rear seats dropped, those mammoth Costco and Home Depot loads are sucked in with ease. Up front, the Pilot gives you two perfectly positioned cupholders and enough storage spots to handle just about anything else you throw its way. Short of a minivan, there aren't many utility vehicles that can easily swallow as much cargo and people as the 2013 Pilot.
That said, there are other choices out there. The Pilot's interior quality is still disappointing. One need look no further than to the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe or 2013 Nissan Pathfinder to find markedly more appealing interior treatments. And if more engaging performance is your thing, the Ford Flex or 2013 Mazda CX-9 would certainly be better choices. Overall, though, the formidable blend of utility and efficiency -- not to mention Honda's top-notch reliability reputation -- virtually demand that buyers take a look at what the 2013 Honda Pilot brings to the party.
Performance & mpg
Regardless of trim level, all 2013 Pilot models use the same powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, channeling its power to 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 of 18 mpg city/25 highway and 21 mpg combined for front-drive models and 17/24/20 for AWD variants puts the Pilot in the top portion of its segment. The front-drive Pilot can tow 2,000 pounds and the all-wheel-drive models can tow 4,500 pounds.
The 2013 Honda Pilot's standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the Pilot came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet. This is below average for midsize crossovers but actually an improvement over the braking performance of earlier Pilots.
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 for frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
The overall driving impression of the 2013 Pilot is of a heavy and large vehicle, more so than perhaps it should be. On paper, the Pilot's 250-hp V6 should be enough, but it never feels like it is; some of the performance deficit may come from the behind-the-times five-speed automatic, and some can be chalked up to the Pilot's heft.
Overall agility is also in short supply. Around corners and in tight spaces, the Pilot feels rather cumbersome due to its slow steering and boxy dimensions. But more generally, the 2013 Pilot is still pleasant to drive, with a cushy ride that readily soaks up ruts and bumps.
Apart from the generally downmarket appearance of some of the more prominent cabin trim, the 2013 Pilot has a useful interior 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 new 8-inch information screen for all trims. Too bad some of the remaining buttons and knobs still have a chintzy feel and appearance.
Unlike some other three-row crossovers, the Pilot's aft-most row is an area with 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.
With the second- and third-row seats stowed, the 2013 Honda 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.
2013 Honda Pilot models
The 2013 Honda Pilot is a midsize crossover sold in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring.
The 2013 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. Two optional features are available when purchasing the EX-L: a rear-seat entertainment system and a voice-activated navigation system.
Both the EX-L's optional features are included on the high-end Touring model, which further adds roof rails, parking sensors, driver seat memory functions and a 10-speaker premium sound system.
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
3.13 out of 5 stars
Vibration' can't repair it so call it normal
2013 Honda Pilot Touring 4dr SUV w/Navigation and Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
i purchased a 2013 Honda Pilot in December 2012. The follolwing day i reported a vibration, which service department said was a wheel weight. After leaving the vehicle for 3 days the SD (service department) replaced a front motor mount which was to resolve the problem. No problem solved, Still vibrating. Two weeks later I returned the vehicle for 3 more days. SD replaced the rear motor … mount. Still vibrates. After trying to repair the vehice 2 times with no success Honda Customer Service calls it a " Normal vibration".Now that Honda Engineering can't resolve the vibration issue the SD calls it a "Characteristic of the vehicle". The SD informed me that all the 2013 Pilot 2WD have a vibration
5 out of 5 stars
A great vehicle in every way
Scott Hansen, 08/05/2015
2013 Honda Pilot EX-L 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
****Update***** My wife and I have had the Honda Pilot for about six months now and my review has not changed one bit. The car is a dream to drive and you can tote around 8 people total if needed, although the very back seat is tight. The car drives like a dream and even my father-in-law said it beats the Buick SUV hands down. It gets great mileage compared to the old Mercury and it … looks great. *****Original posting***** My wife and I never buy new cars and the cars we have we keep for 10 or 15 years. The last car that my wife had was a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer and we had it 10 years and it was time to get a new vehicle. Two years ago we purchased a used Honda Civic and are very happy with it so when it came time to research vehicles we knew the Pilot would be one of them. We test drove three different SUV's. We tried the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota Highlander. We did not like the Santa Fe at all. The ride was not nice and despite raves from the reviewers, the interior seemed to be made out of cheep materials. The road we drove on was under construction and we felt every bump and hole we hit. The third row seating area was cramped, and that is being generous. The Toyota Highlander was next and we liked that car. It drove well, it looked nice, it was large and roomy but they tended to be more expensive and with less equipment than the Pilot. When we drove the Pilot I knew right away we found our next car. We drove one that had 17,000 miles on it and it had all the comforts we were used to and a bit more. The seats are very comfortable, there is plenty of second row seating leg room, and the third seat actually looks like it may be comfortable for adults. We liked the way it handled and how intuitive the controls were. I went to work and researched used Pilots and I honed in on three of them, on in Fargo, one where we live in the Twin Cities and one in Wausau, WI. The Fargo one and the Wausau one are about 3 1/2 hours from our house. I hate dealing with car dealerships but because I did the research I knew I was going to pay a fair price. When it came to numbers I wanted a towing lighting system installed as well as winter mats and a cargo area mat. The place in Fargo and I talked and then the place in Wausau and I talked. I was able to get a lower price from the Wausau place even though I was told this was the lowest they could go. They responded well when there was another valid offer on the table. I ended up going with the Wausau one because the vehicle they had was a Certified Honda which meant an extra years warranty. I then paid $795 to kick that out to the year 2020 or 100,000 miles, and with the low number of miles we drive I know I will be covered for five full years. Even with the warranty I ended up paying less than I would have at the Fargo dealer but the Fargo dealer was going to deliver it to my doorstep and I had to pick up the Wausau one. I then went online and found this forum. I was nervous when I read all about the vibration problems when the car goes into ECO mode. Since I did not test drive the exact vehicle I was buying, I thought it could be trouble. I also thought about this when I bought the extended Honda warranty. My wife and I have had the car now for about a month. So far there has been zero problems with vibrations. The car is a dream. It is built well and it gets better gas mileage than our old Mountaineer. It is more comfortable to drive and there is nothing better than getting that new car feeling even if it is a used car. My wife loves it too and is very happy with our choice. We are going to start saving our pennies so we can buy our next car with cash in about 10 years and most likely it will be a Honda or Toyota.
5 out of 5 stars
My first SUV and it doesn't disappoint
2013 Honda Pilot LX 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
I bought my 2013 Pilot used with about 32k miles on it back in May 2016. I've had it for 3 years now with 70k miles and the only expenses I've had to pay were for oil changes, transmission flush, a brand new battery, and a set of alloy rims I purchased since the LX comes with regular steel rims. Like most owners here, I did notice the additional vibrations when the ECO light comes on. I … spoke to the dealer about that. They explained to me that it's due to the VCM engine using the i-VTEC system to disable one bank of cylinders during specific driving conditions like freeway driving. This is done to save fuel. They further explained to me that since the weight of the vehicle does not change when the VCM disables one cylinder bank, it is normal for the vehicle to experience some reduction of power causing it to "drag" the vehicle weight a little more compared to when the VCM is in full power mode. Thus the vibration. I though well that makes sense. Obviously, if all 6 cylinders are running then the ride is smooth but when you shut 1 or 2 of those 6 then you'll feel some difference. I was happy with the explanation. I noticed that when I'm running on ECO mode the MPG counter rises significantly from 20 mpg to about 23 mpg. I'm ok with a little "discomfort" if it means I gain extra 3 mpg or more. However, all other aspects of the Pilot are excellent. I love the roominess, the available features on the LX and definitely the price I paid for it. Most of all, in the 3 years I owned it, I probably spent less than $400 on maintenance and none on unexpected repairs. This SUV is super reliable and good lookin too. I highly recommend it.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Best SUV out there
2013 Honda Pilot Touring 4dr SUV 4WD w/Navigation and Rear Entertainment (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
Looked at several different SUVs including the Volvo XC90. The Volvo XC90's ride was too rigid and the design was very outdated. Also, not a lot of space. Saw the Honda Pilot at a local auto show and fell in love. Had all of the features you could ask for. Not to mention the Honda's reputation of being very reliable. The Pilot does not feel like a large SUV when driving, but the cabin … space is huge! Plenty of room for 8 adults with plenty of storage. Took it on a long distance trip that was about 7 hours and was completely satisfied with the comfort and drive. Love the navigation, rear entertainment system, backup camera and hands free bluetooth. Overall a great vehicle.
2013 Pilot Highlights
|Combined MPG||21 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$184/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat4 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover17.4%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested