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.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on July 14, 2016
My family ventures north to the Oregon coast to see my parents twice a year. But this trip deviated from the norm in a couple of ways. Only three of us made the journey because one of my daughters had to stay back and work. And we added a side trip to Bend, Oregon, to spend a few days with my wife's sister.
Bend is pretty spectacular when it comes to mountain biking, so I really wanted to bring my bike along. But our 2016 Honda Pilot lacks a trailer hitch for my bike rack. It would have to go inside with us. I liked the idea for the security aspect, but didn't think my XL-sized Giant 29er would play nice with our baggage.
I was wrong. Because there were only three of us, I was able to find a way to fit it in standing up. It was a close-run thing, but in the end there was plenty of leftover space for our luggage.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on July 13, 2016
Holy schnikes, our long-term 2016 Honda Pilot has a colossal center console cargo bin.
Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on May 17, 2016
One unique feature on our 2016 Honda Pilot is this ridiculously simple yet effective adjustable armrest. Every time I use it, I wonder why more SUVs and crossover don't use a similar design.
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.
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on March 25, 2016
The last time I drove our long-term 2016 Honda Pilot, I took the three-row SUV on a 1,000-mile road trip and it did an admirable job carrying five people and all our gear. Last weekend when I signed out the Pilot for the second time, I had a very different task in mind.
My plan was to build a coffee table for my apartment and both of the Edmunds long-term pickup trucks were spoken for. So I went for the next best thing I could think of: a 16-foot-long crossover SUV. According to vehicle manager Mike Schmidt, the interior dimensions of the Pilot were perfect for this sort of task and I was happy to test his theory.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on March 4, 2016
Our recent back-to-back test convinced me that if I was in the market for a 2016 Honda Pilot, I'd buy one with the six-speed transmission and the conventional lever-action shifter. But the EX we tested lacked some things I'd like, such as leather-trimmed seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter, and heated front seats.
That very combination exists and it's called the EX-L. But it's more than just leather. It also differs from the EX in that it has a power hatch, a power tilt/slide moonroof, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat and "one-touch" second-row seat folding.
Including the compulsory destination charge, one of these goes for $36,955 in front-drive trim and $38,755 with all-wheel drive. Our Elite — which is only available with AWD — goes for $47,470.
The specific one I'd get is the EX-L Navi, which is Honda shorthand for "with navigation." This version costs $1,000 more than a regular EX-L, but even the pricier AWD version goes for less than $40,000. The front-drive version I'd probably choose would cost less than $38,000.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on February 23, 2016
You've probably read our gripes about our 2016 Honda Pilot Elite's 9-speed transmission, which can be especially irksome when you need to summon a short burst of even moderate acceleration. To give you what you want, it might need to kick down two or three gears, but it may only dole out one gearchange in the hopes that you'll stop asking and let it get on with the business of saving fuel.
And then there's the push-button shifter that goes with it, which is just plain silly and annoying. There's little need to look at or even consciously think about a normal shift lever, but it's necessary to glance down to find and operate these buttons. And I'm not convinced it's a simple matter of getting used to it. After years in this business, I'm still glancing down at the keyboard to type these words.
The good news is there is an alternative: don't buy the Touring or the Elite. Get an LX, EX or EX-L, each of which comes with a 6-speed automatic and a standard shift lever.
We recently made a few calls and ended up with a Pilot EX to compare with our Elite.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on February 8, 2016
No, I'm not talking about a new folk rock band coming to a summer music festival near you. The creaky lumbar in question here would be the one found in our 2016 Honda Pilot.
by Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor on February 4, 2016
One of the things I like about Android devices is that you can limit the Bluetooth interaction between the phone and whatever it connects to. When you pair, the phone prompts you to grant access to specific functions. I'm happy to hand over phone controls, but I don't want to transfer my phonebook or text messages to cars we're reviewing because who knows where they might end up. This is a problem specific to what we do, but it illustrates a flaw within the Pilot's system.
When I refuse full access to most cars, nothing happens. When I did it in the Pilot, the SUV continued to send the request. Every 30 seconds or so, my phone would ping with a notification. To make matters worse, Bluetooth audio wouldn't play through the stereo. The Pilot was content to let the phone's speakers handle podcast duties. I could still control the playback through Honda's infotainment system, pausing or changing tracks, but no audio would come through the Pilot's speakers.
I was ready to call the dealer, but then these problems stopped. Maybe the Honda and my phone realized they'd have to communicate and got over their differences.
And then I found another problem.
by Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor on January 29, 2016
An interesting thing happened when I tried turning the volume down in our 2016 Honda Pilot one evening while parking: It kept getting louder.
Getting into my parking spot isn't the easiest thing. It's tight and oddly positioned, often necessitating a multi-point turn and faith in mirrors and proximity sensors. The garage is underground too, so I always lose satellite radio reception.
While parking, I put the Pilot in reverse and started swiping the touch-sensitive volume bar to turn down the volume. Somehow, the combination of the backup camera activating, the loss of satellite radio, and my volume input caused the audio level to increase.
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.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 1, 2016
It's time for the Edmunds family's annual holiday trip to Oregon to spend Christmas with my parents. This year I locked in on one particular long-term vehicle as soon as it was admitted to the fleet: the 2016 Honda Pilot.
by Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief on December 18, 2015
We've been banging around in our long-term 2016 Honda Pilot for a little more than a month now and we have our first mechanical issue. I wouldn't call it serious, but it's certainly annoying on a brand new vehicle that's been driven 3,000 miles.
This morning the Pilot's heated steering wheel was a no-show.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on December 17, 2015
There's something almost too nice about our 2016 Honda Pilot. It's probably a result of the high-line "Elite" trim and all that comes with it, but if I was buying one of these for my family I might step it down a notch. Here's why.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on December 10, 2015
From this angle, the rear seats in our 2016 Honda Pilot don't look particularly spacious. Measure them against the competition, however, and they match up quite well. Here are the numbers against some popular rivals:
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on November 23, 2015
This transmission shifter may look familiar. I wrote about a related setup in our long-term Acura TLX earlier this year. I liked it in that car and I think it works well in our new 2016 Honda Pilot, too.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on November 18, 2015
Yes, this is the first thing I felt the need to comment on when it comes to our new 2016 Honda Pilot. I understand that designers have a hard time just leaving well enough alone, but these gauges aren't my favorite alternative to the standard two dial design.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on November 16, 2015
Our 2016 Honda Pilot had arrived just a few days ago. The needle was barely down from the "F" mark on its second tank of fuel as I emerged into the sunlight from our underground parking garage. I wasn't going anywhere special, though. This first drive would be a simple overnight commute.
On the drive home the accommodations proved to be, well, accommodating, and the Pilot generally rolled down the road with composure. Its V6 powertrain seemed to generate a decent amount of power, and I never noticed the odd 1-2 shift that Ed thought he might have felt once or twice the night before. When I got home, my daughter commented how much she liked the rear seat and the amount of space.
It was a brief first impression, and numerous details will get filled in over the miles and months ahead. Still, everyone agreed this would be a good candidate for our upcoming Oregon holiday trip.
But it wasn't all rosy.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on November 13, 2015
Is Honda finally on the way back? For years, the automaker that owned the 90's with small, sporty and spirited cars (some funneled through the Acura brand, sure) has seemingly stumbled its way through the last decade with a string of sleepy, also-ran designs and powertrains. Top-sellers like the CR-V, Odyssey and Accord have kept the brand relevant, but hardly exciting. That malaise even affected the Pilot, Honda's three-row alternative to the minivan.