2016 Honda Pilot: Doesn't Like My Phone
by Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor on February 4, 2016
One of the things I like about Android devices is that you can limit the Bluetooth interaction between the phone and whatever it connects to. When you pair, the phone prompts you to grant access to specific functions. I'm happy to hand over phone controls, but I don't want to transfer my phonebook or text messages to cars we're reviewing because who knows where they might end up. This is a problem specific to what we do, but it illustrates a flaw within the Pilot's system.
When I refuse full access to most cars, nothing happens. When I did it in the Pilot, the SUV continued to send the request. Every 30 seconds or so, my phone would ping with a notification. To make matters worse, Bluetooth audio wouldn't play through the stereo. The Pilot was content to let the phone's speakers handle podcast duties. I could still control the playback through Honda's infotainment system, pausing or changing tracks, but no audio would come through the Pilot's speakers.
I was ready to call the dealer, but then these problems stopped. Maybe the Honda and my phone realized they'd have to communicate and got over their differences.
And then I found another problem.
Android devices handle voice commands really well. I don't press a button, I just say "Ok, Google." That phrase prompts the phone for a voice input. I use this hands-free approach all the time: Setting a timer when cooking, converting a measurement, replying to a text, estimating time to destination, and so on. I also use it to make calls. So imagine my surprise when that didn't work.
While driving, two hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, I say, "Ok, Google. Call mom." The phone receives the request and makes the call, but the audio from that call doesn't play over Bluetooth. The Pilot thinks I'm initiating the call through my phone, so it plays the audio there.
The correct process is to use Honda's frustrating touchscreen infotainment system to make the call. I can only hope that this gets solved when the Pilot supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, like the Accord and Civic.
My phone has a better solution. The Pilot should use it.
Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor @ 7,690 miles