2016 Honda Pilot: Family Day Trip and Seven-Passenger Tested
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on January 25, 2016
We have two very capable three-row family haulers in our long-term fleet right now: the 2015 Kia Sedona minivan and our 2016 Honda Pilot. Dan Edmunds recently drove the Pilot up to Oregon and came away with some mixed opinions. This past weekend, I took the Pilot for my own family road trip.
It was just a 300-mile day trip to visit friends but it still proved useful for getting more commentary on the Pilot's strengths and weaknesses.
Along with my wife and two small children, my mom also came along. Originally I thought I'd be able to report on using all three rows of seating but then my wife wasn't able to go at the last minute. So my mom sat up front and I put my kids in the second-row captain chairs.
The Pilot is an agreeable long-distance companion. It's respectably quiet and comfortable on the highway, and the V6 gets it up to speed when you give it the spurs. The Pilot isn't luxury-car quiet, but it's quiet enough. The only thing I didn't really care for was the Pilot's big body motions when driving over larger bumps on the highway. Granted, the Pilot is a big crossover SUV, but I wouldn't mind just a bit more body stability.
My kids (ages four and eight) watched a movie both ways (more on the rear entertainment system in another update) and seemed quite content. The dual captain-chair layout with the center console worked out well for providing enough personal and storage space for each kid. As for the driver seat, it's adequate for comfort. I was getting a little fidgety near the end of each 2.5-hour one-way drive. While our long-term Nissan Murano isn't a direct competitor to the Pilot, I do prefer its front seats for long-distance comfort.
I ended up utilizing the Pilot's third-row seat after all. My friend and I decided to take our kids to a museum (the San Jose Tech Museum) so we put our two eight-year-olds in the third row, a four-year-old in the third row (with a booster seat), another four-year-old in one captain's chair, my friend in the other captain's chair, and then my mom up front. Being able to take along extra friends is certainly one of the big advantages of owning a three-row crossover.
That said, I wasn't thrilled with putting three kids in the third row. The kids didn't complain, but it's a tight fit going three across and it was tricky to get the pull-down seatbelt for the center position (it pulls down from the roof, then latches/anchors at two points below to create the lap belt) at an angle that didn't ride up high on the middle child's neck.
This is just a general statement rather than specific commentary on the Pilot. Know the law and guidelines for child safety seats, and if you're thinking about buying a three-row crossover or minivan, make sure to test out the seating positions in the ways you think you'll use them.
As for fuel economy, the Pilot's in-car fuel economy meter showed 26.1 mpg after 294.7 miles of driving. I was initially excited that I got EPA highway (something Dan struggled to do on his trip), but after I pumped in 12.572 gallons, actual fuel economy turned out to be 23.4 mpg. Considering my trip mixed city driving, some hilly terrain, and passengers, 23.4 mpg - from a big crossover SUV, no less - seems decent enough to me.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor