2016 Honda Pilot: Room for Six Plus Luggage for a Vegas Weekend
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on April 20, 2016
I've been to Las Vegas a few times over the past couple years, but vehicle logistics have prevented my party of six adults from taking the trip in one car. I tried previously with our departed 2014 Toyota Highlander, but the third row didn't have enough legroom for two adults. I tried again when we added the 2015 Kia Sedona to the fleet, but it was involved in a collision shortly beforehand. This time, I again requested the Sedona but it was signed out by another editor for the same weekend.
Then Mike Schmidt threw a Hail Mary in the form of our 2016 Honda Pilot. I was doubtful, as the comparable Highlander didn't fit two of my passengers. But I took the Pilot home one night, filled the car with my crew and found that there was sufficient legroom and headroom for the people in the back. Due to tight packaging, the third row in a crossover is typically only suitable for kids or small adults. My third-row passengers were a few inches on either side of 6 feet, and both fit well enough for a trip to Vegas. I told Schmidt the Pilot would be okay. But my group would have to pack light for it to work.
In crossovers of this size, the cargo space behind the third row is limited. The Pilot is no exception, with the distance between the seatback and hatch at just 16.5 inches. Unlike some other crossovers, the Pilot has a false cargo floor that expands the height a few inches when removed. This would prove invaluable for our trip, as we could fit luggage behind the third row without compromising visibility out the rear window.
I told my group to fit everything into malleable duffel bags rather than rigid suitcases. My instructions were technically followed, but the bags were filled to the brim, which made them difficult to mold. My group just doesn't pack light. We had four luggage bags, my laptop bag, a suitcase that I shared with my girlfriend and a few carry-ons with food and beverages. All that, and I had a clear view out the back.
Like many of its rivals, the Pilot was reasonably quiet and exhibited a comfortable highway ride. I used the adaptive cruise control throughout the trip except when I needed to pass or when traffic slowed in construction areas along I-15. Although far from perfect, I like the system more than in the Acura TLX. There were several times when a car cut in front of me to pass a slower vehicle in their lane. Rather than slam on the brakes like I expected, the Pilot beeped like crazy and flashed the "Brake" light in the instrument panel. The brakes were applied after a few seconds, but I appreciated that the system didn't immediately physically overreact like it does on the TLX.
While neither of my third-row passengers complained about the room in the back, I know they would have been more comfortable in the Sedona. There's certainly more cargo room in the minivan and the second-row captain's chairs offer more adjustments. The Sedona is also slightly better while executing passing maneuvers, as its transmission finds the appropriate gear more quickly than the Pilot. Despite the Sedona's numerous advantages, the Pilot is an acceptable substitute for a quick sprint to Vegas. A destination further away (say, to Zion) with this many people would necessitate the larger car.
Overall fuel economy for the 527-mile round-trip was 22.3 mpg.
Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor @ 10,939 miles