2016 Honda Pilot: More Gears Isn't Necessarily Better
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on January 21, 2016
When you opt for either the Touring or the Elite trim level of the 2016 Honda Pilot, you get a nine-speed automatic in place of the standard six-speed transmission. Sounds like a nice upgrade.
We're not so sure.
With so many gears to choose from, the transmission has a tougher job of picking the right one. It's also designed to deliver improved mileage, so it's fighting the urge to get the engine in its sweet spot with the mandate to keep engine speeds low.
The result is a gearbox that quickly heads for ninth gear as soon as possible when you press the gas lightly. Press harder, however, and suddenly the transmission starts to decide whether it should drop to seventh, or sixth, or fifth and so on.
Needless to say, it takes longer than it should. Occasionally it also holds lower gears longer than it should, making you wonder if you unknowingly engaged "sport" mode (which, by the way, doesn't feel any better).
As Dan proved on his trip to Vegas, the nine-speed transmission is able to deliver solid mileage when given the chance, but in day-to-day driving, I would rather have the six-speed automatic and live with the mileage hit.
Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor