2016 Honda Pilot: Thoughts on the Road to Oregon
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on July 18, 2016
The route from my Santa Ana home to Bend, Oregon is ridiculously uncomplicated. Drive 1.3 miles east to the Interstate 5 onramp and proceed 642 miles north to Weed, California. Exit onto Highway 97 and drive 208 miles north to Bend.
I made one modification. Highway 99 is a smoother-flowing parallel deviation through California's great Central Valley that adds but three miles. But that doesn't change the fact that this trip is a long, straight constant-speed cruise. I bet I never turned our 2016 Honda Pilot's steering wheel more than fifteen degrees off center except for those times I dipped off the freeway for food, gasoline or shuteye.
It was pretty much an exercise in lack of exercise, is what I'm saying. We mostly just sat there, listened to First Wave on Sirius/XM and watched California stream past. Trips like this are opportunities for passive evaluation. If you don't notice something, it's probably fine. Things that catch your attention are either exceptionally good or annoyingly bad.
Here's what caught mine.
The lack of volume and tuning knobs is just as irksome as ever, and it is still way too easy to mis-hit the virtual "map" and "source" buttons as the vehicle gently rocks while on the move. And just look at those nasty fingerprints!
I haven't seen the breakdown of the items that led to Honda's surprisingly poor 2016 J.D. Power IQS brand ranking, but I wouldn't be surprised if touchscreen radio complaints played a part.
These are aces. Extra kudos go to the high-mounted cupholder on the upper level, up above the speaker. Rear passengers get treated pretty well in this regard, too.
Broad and spacious, but the seat bottoms aren't as sumptuous as they look. They're a bit flat and hard. My butt hurt for the first 500 miles, then I either got used to it or learned to ignore it. I looked forward to our break stops.
The middle-row captain's chairs don't recline much at all. You're looking at the maximum setting. This is probably due to the high hinge point that enables them to fold flat on top of themselves, but that possible explanation was of little comfort (pun intended) to my daughter.
As Ed pointed out earlier, these are an incredibly welcome feature on long straight cruising sections, which made up the bulk of this trip. I did find myself folding mine up and out of the way when maneuvering in town, but that's to be expected. Bonus points awarded for similar armrests for the front and middle-row passengers.
The Pilot copes very well with the large undulations and swales that tend to occur in the Northwest, where land movement contorts the local mountain roads and highways. Much better than I remembered from last time out, and light-years more sophisticated and resistant to rear bottoming than the Hyundai Santa Fe we used to own.
Nope. I'm still not having it. As I've said before, I'll take the lever-action shifter that comes with the 6-speed automatic in the EX-L any day.
I still can't deal with the poorly calibrated adaptive system, so I once again switched it off. But on this trip I went so far as to shut off the normal system, too, after I detected a very subtle undershoot and overshoot cycle that got on my nerves. I'm smoother than the computer, and any human is better at anticipating the road ahead.
Running in full manual mode with the cruise control off put me more in tune with the machine. I was able to improve overall MPG relative to my last run by holding the throttle in just the right spot to maintain speed and surf along the crest of ninth gear. How much better? I'm saving that tidbit for the next update.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 14,998 miles