2016 Honda Pilot: Fear and Boating in Las Vegas
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 13, 2016
One thing is certain: you will see some weird stuff if you spend enough time in the desert, even if you're not Hunter S. Thompson.
Exhibit A: The S.S. Stell, a fiberglass ski boat I found slung beneath the superstructure of a high-tension transmission tower.
I have no idea.
I ran across the mighty S.S. Stell while driving to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in our 2016 Honda Pilot SUV. I had pulled off the road onto an adjacent dry lakebed for a quick photograph, and there it was. The Stell wasn't anywhere near the well-traveled freeway, though. It was near a lonely two-lane road that I had detoured onto to help keep my speed down.
That's because this trip was an MPG run, of sorts.
Carrying just me and a single bag, my quick solo trip to Vegas was an opportunity to see if the Pilot could redeem itself after turning is a disappointing road-trip fuel economy performance over the holiday break.
Interstate 15 is posted at 65 mph in town and 70 mph in the desert, and I was sticking to those limits religiously. But the prevailing flow of Vegas-bound traffic had other ideas and made this uncomfortable. So I detoured onto a series of two-lane roads posted at 55 to 65 mph, a pace I could maintain easily with no one bearing down on me. Besides, there was more to see out the windows.
This long inbound detour made it possible for the Pilot to achieve a new best range of 400.6 miles by the time I arrived in town and filled up. The resulting 15.862-gallon top-up worked out to an inbound fuel economy of 25.3 mpg.
Midweek outbound traffic was very light, so I stuck to the interstate on the way home. This time I could run a steady 70 mph without turning myself into a rolling bottleneck. Rain fell during the final 100 miles and the resulting spray trimmed the prevailing speed to less than 55 mph as I summited the Cajon Pass and dropped into a drying L.A. basin.
This more direct leg was 321 miles and I pumped in 12.449 gallons of regular unleaded when I got home to record a new best tank of 25.8 mpg and an overall trip average of 25.5 mpg. While under by a thin margin, these two figures do round up to the Pilot's 26-mpg EPA highway fuel economy rating. But I drove alone and ran at or below 70 mph to pull it off.
Meanwhile, the mystery of the S.S. Stell remains unsolved. Oh, wait. It's the desert. It all makes perfect sense in a gonzo, Vegas kind of way.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 6,178 miles