by Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant
Where Did We Drive It?
Our 2016 Honda Pilot soldiered on this month amid an unseasonable smattering of cold and rain. The Pilot's all-wheel-drive system gave Copy Chief Kathleen Clonts peace of mind during a surprise downpour in Palm Springs, of all places, while its seat heaters came in handy on her chilly (we use the term loosely) morning commutes to the office. Meanwhile, Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds took our Honda into the twisting mountain roads above Glendora, reporting that the big crossover handled them well enough. He also encountered some rodent footprints in the engine compartment; thankfully, no damage done.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
October was a big month for our 2016 Honda Pilot test SUV, as we added over 2,500 miles to its odometer. More than half of those miles were accumulated during Automotive Editor Mark Takahashi's weeklong road trip through Northern California and Nevada — an excursion that included three men and three hunting dogs. The rest of the month, the Pilot was employed for more typical daily tasks, such as school carpool duty and around-town errands.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on September 15, 2016
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on August 11, 2016
Our long-term 2016 Honda Pilot has a Jekyll and Hyde thing going on with its fuel economy. If you take it on the open road like Dan Edmunds did, it can generate some pretty solid MPG numbers (although that's not what happened the time before). But back in the city, we've seen numbers in the low to mid teens, well below the EPA city estimate of 19 mpg.
Fortunately for the Pilot's stats, July was dominated by Dan's surprisingly fuel-efficient Oregon trip.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on July 19, 2016
Back then, the Pilot was a huge disappointment at the gas pump, averaging a pitiful 21.7 mpg over 1,767 mostly highway miles. Our AWD Pilot's 26-mpg EPA highway rating seemed like a pipe dream, and I could only guess what the engineers had been smoking.
But this trip was nothing like that one — at the gas pump, at least. It was as if I had been driving an entirely different vehicle. This time the Pilot averaged 27.4 mpg over 2,151 miles of driving.
I'll save you the math. That's a difference of 5.7 mpg, which amounts to an improvement of 26 percent. Something like that deserves its own paragraph.
What made the difference? I can't say for sure, but here are some factors to chew on.
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 Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on July 8, 2016
The Fourth of July weekend is upon us, and I'm taking the opportunity to drive our 2016 Honda Pilot up to Oregon once again to see my sister-in-law in Bend and my parents on the southern coast near Gold Beach. But this is a June fuel economy update. What does a July road trip have do with anything?
Well, I left town on the afternoon of June 30th and got 344.3 miles up the road. It's what we in the industry call a "head start."
The tank of gas that got us all the way north to a hotel in Turlock, California, belongs to the June update, which is frankly the only bright spot in an otherwise inefficient month spent close to town.
How bright? I just closed out June with a new best-tank mark of 26.4 mpg, and that was the first time any of us has surpassed the Pilot's 26-mpg EPA highway rating. And it stands in stark contrast to the 12.9-mpg tank that kicked off the month four weeks ago. The polar opposite of a road trip, that tank was a result of lots or running around in town with visiting family by a staffer that lives in a particularly gridlocked part of West LA.
I frankly don't know how he managed it, and it's no fluke because it follows on the heels of the 12.3-mpg tank that ended May. As good as my tank was, it was not enough to counteract these and other weak city tanks (14.8, 15.4) and prevent the overall average from dropping. June began at 19.5 mpg and it ended at 19.3 mpg.
But my road trip is barely underway. I have nearly 1,800 additional miles to go. I should be able to offset all of early June's city-dominated mileage by the time I get home.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on May 9, 2016
A fuel economy trend is emerging now that we are 12,000 miles into our test of the 2016 Honda Pilot. And the trend is status quo. We added just over 1,700 miles to the Pilot in April but it wasn't good enough to change any of our lifetime figures.
I even tried to sneak in a freeway-heavy 400 miles and side trip to Legoland in the final days of the month, but to no avail. Nothing budged.
Take the jump to see how the Honda is performing...
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on April 11, 2016
While our 2016 Honda Pilot saw a nice mix of city and highway driving in February, a month full of stop and go traffic in March dealt a blow to overall fuel economy. After it was all said and done, our overall average dropped from 20.4 mpg at the end of January to 19.7 mpg at the end of March.
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 Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on February 15, 2016
Dan wasn't kidding when he wrote that the 2016 Honda Pilot would see plenty of road trip miles in January. The Pilot started the month with Dan coming home from Oregon. He laid low for a couple of days, then traveled to and from Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.
Brent took the Pilot a few days later for a day trip of his own with his mother and two kiddos in tow. The long-distance trips helped the Pilot eke ever closer to its combined mpg rating.
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 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.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 13, 2016
One thing is certain: you will see some weird stuff if you spend enough time in the desert, even if you're not Hunter S. Thompson.
Exhibit A: The S.S. Stell, a fiberglass ski boat I found slung beneath the superstructure of a high-tension transmission tower.
I have no idea.
I ran across the mighty S.S. Stell while driving to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in our 2016 Honda Pilot SUV. I had pulled off the road onto an adjacent dry lakebed for a quick photograph, and there it was. The Stell wasn't anywhere near the well-traveled freeway, though. It was near a lonely two-lane road that I had detoured onto to help keep my speed down.
That's because this trip was an MPG run, of sorts.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 11, 2016
The holidays are over and we're back home in southern California. All told, our round-trip to Oregon added 1,767 miles to our 2016 Honda Pilot. I'd like to say we enjoyed each and every one of them immensely, but at least two of us were cranky with head colds at any given time.
That's not the car's fault, of course. Mostly, it did its job admirably. But there are a couple of things we took issue with. Here's a rundown of the highlights and lowlights we encountered along the way.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 5, 2016
We were hanging out with my parents on the Oregon coast during that quiet week between Christmas and New Year's Day and our 2016 Honda Pilot wasn't going much of anywhere. I added the Pilot's last fill-up of 2015 while still on the California side of the border so I could pump it myself.
Oregon is one of two states where you can't pump your own fuel, and I've always been turned off by how the so-called "professionals" routinely top-up a tank mercilessly with several clicks in order to round the total to an even dollar — even when they know I'm paying with a credit card.
It screws up my MPG record-keeping and I have no doubt this kind of thing cost Dad several hundred dollars a few weeks ago when his 2007 Tacoma's evaporative emissions canister finally gave up the ghost after years of such abuse.
But I digress.
Our half-finished trip has added 778 miles of pure road trip fuel economy to the Pilot's total. Drum roll, please.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on November 25, 2015
I wasted no time asking Edmunds car-czar Mike Schmidt for the keys to our newest long-term vehicle, the 2016 Honda Pilot. Before it had been in our garage for a week, I requested the six-passenger crossover for a 1,000-mile road trip. Once Mike forked over the keys, I packed my running gear, picked up four of my friends and headed north towards Sacramento.
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.