2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
November 13, 2014
What Did We Get?
After some recent stumbles, Honda is starting to hit its stride once again. The new 2016 Honda Pilot is a good example why. Unlike the previous Pilot that was slow, bulky-looking and had a cabin that looked cheap, the redesigned model has plenty of power, a crisp and modern exterior design and a spacious cabin that is well trimmed throughout.
It felt like a huge step up the first time we drove it, and subsequent test-drives only reinforced the idea that this sizable crossover was now a top-tier, three-row family vehicle. We wanted to see if that perception would hold up over the long haul, so we decided to add the new Pilot to our long-term fleet.
What Options Does It Have?
Like all Honda models, the Pilot doesn't offer stand-alone options like most other vehicles in its class. Instead, Honda offers the Pilot in various trim levels that come standard with certain features.
In the case of the Pilot, there are five basic trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Elite. All offer a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive except the all-wheel-drive-only Elite. Every Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6. The LX, EX and EX-L models use a six-speed automatic transmission, while the Touring and Elite models come standard with a nine-speed automatic.
The base LX starts at $30,895. It has all the basics and there are no upgrades available. On the EX, which starts at $33,330, there's a standard level of features and then a trim level upgrade that adds Honda Sensing, a package of safety equipment that includes automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, among other things.
From there you can upgrade to the leather-lined EX-L ($36,805) that offers three upgrades: the Honda Sensing system, a rear entertainment system or navigation. For even more features there's the Touring model ($41,920) or the fully loaded Elite version ($47,320), which is the only model that offers second-row captain's chairs. All other trims get a second-row bench that increases total seating capacity to eight.
Honda loaned us a Pilot Elite for a year so we could test every last feature available.
Why We Got It
This is one of the most competitive segments in the industry right now and for good reason. Three-row crossovers are the vehicles of choice when you need to carry more than a couple of kids on a regular basis and you can't stomach the thought of a minivan. That's a big chunk of the market, which is why nearly every mainstream carmaker has a three-row crossover either in its lineup or in the works.
Honda's latest entry is as important to its success as the upcoming Civic. It's been offering the Pilot since 2003, but it hasn't been as dominant in its class as some of Honda's other models. The Civic and Accord are synonymous with top-quality sedans, but the Pilot has yet to make its mark.
We have tested some of its main competitors like the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander, all of which impressed us with their capabilities and comfort. Now it's time to see if Honda has raised the bar. Over the next 12 months we'll subject the Pilot to thousands of miles of real-world testing to see if it accommodates families, vacations and daily commutes as well as or better than its rivals.
Follow along on the long-term road test page for daily updates on our 2016 Honda Pilot and the rest of our fleet.