2018 Honda Pilot Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2018 Honda Pilot SUV has a lot to offer shoppers in the market for a family hauler. It has almost as much interior room as a minivan but provides a lot more capability. Available in front-wheel or all-wheel-drive configurations, the Pilot comes standard with a strong V6 engine that helps it tow up to 5,000 pounds and is built tough enough for some light off-roading. At the same time, its comfortable and feature-packed cabin provides a near-luxury experience for as many as eight passengers. And, unlike some competitors, there's enough room behind the third-row seat for their luggage and other belongings.
Although the Pilot remains a top choice in this class, there are a few minor issues that potential buyers should consider. Some of the active safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, are set up to err on the side of caution, making them seem oversensitive. We're not particularly fond of the way the optional nine-speed transmission shifts either. But despite these quibbles, we highly recommend a test drive in a Honda Pilot if you're looking for a roomy, comfortable, reliable three-row family vehicle.
What's new for 2018
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Honda Pilot is a three-row crossover SUV that provides a good alternative to a minivan. It is offered in LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and the Elite trim levels. All seat eight people, with the exception of the Elite, which has second-row captain's chairs that reduce capacity to seven.
For basic family transportation, the base LX Pilot makes a lot of sense. It might be the entry-level trim, but it definitely isn't bare-bones. Standard features include a 3.5-liter V6 engine (280 horsepower, 262 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a 60/40-split folding third-row seat. Technology features include a 5-inch central display screen, a seven-speaker sound system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.
If you're looking for a few more tech and safety features, then you should probably step up to the EX. It adds automatic headlights, foglights, LED running lights, heated mirrors, remote engine start, the Honda LaneWatch blind-spot camera, dynamic guidelines for the rearview camera, three-zone automatic climate control and a power-adjustable driver seat.
Also included with the EX is an Intelligent Traction Management system (adds a Snow mode for the front-wheel-drive version and Snow/Sand/Mud modes with AWD), an 8-inch touchscreen interface, HondaLink smartphone-enabled features, and an upgraded seven-speaker sound system with two additional higher-powered USB ports, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and Pandora internet radio control.
Although much of its equipment is the same as in the EX, the EX-L gets several creature comforts that make it worth a closer look. It adds a sunroof, a power tailgate, a noise-reducing windshield, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, one-touch sliding second-row seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. It also keeps the six-speed transmission, which is a big part of why we recommend this trim level.
For some added safety, the EX and EX-L trim levels both offer the optional Honda Sensing package. It adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation (with automatic braking), road departure intervention, and lane departure warning and intervention. The EX-L can also be equipped with a navigation system or a rear entertainment system that includes a Blu-ray player with a single overhead screen, HDMI and RCA ports, two additional USB ports for the second row, second-row sunshades and a 115-volt power outlet. Note that these EX-L options cannot be combined with each other.
Near the top of the Pilot lineup is the Touring model, which has all of the EX-L's standard and optional equipment plus roof rails, 20-inch wheels, a nine-speed automatic transmission, automatic engine stop-start, additional noise-reducing acoustic glass for the windows, front and rear parking sensors, driver-seat memory settings, ambient interior lighting and a 10-speaker sound system. The Touring is appealing, sure, and much of the equipment is useful, but the nine-speed transmission isn't as easy to live with as the six-speed.
Swinging for the fences, the top-of-the-line Elite model adds LED headlights, automatic high-beam headlight control, a full blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert (which replaces LaneWatch), automatic windshield wipers, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain's chairs (which reduce maximum seating to seven people), a heated steering wheel and HD radio.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Honda Pilot Touring w/Navigation and Rear Entertainment System (3.5L V6 | 9-speed automatic | FWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the Honda Pilot received some minor revisions, such as the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in 2017. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 2018 Honda Pilot, however.
Noise & vibration8.0
Ease of use6.5
Getting in/getting out7.5
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.