Honda's eight-passenger crossover enjoys a complete overhaul this year with emphasis on passenger comfort, performance and technology. After a period of lagging behind the competition, the Pilot has zoomed back to the top tier of its class.

Pricing and Equipment

The Pilot starts at $30,875 with the budget-friendly LX and goes through a series of trim levels and packages on its way to $47,300.

  • The $33,310 EX gets expanded infotainment and safety technology, while the EX-L adds leather, a power tailgate and a sunroof for $36,765.
  • At $41,900, the Touring packs a rear entertainment system, navigation and additional safety assists.
  • At the top of the line, the new Elite gets second-row captain's chairs, a larger sunroof and standard all-wheel drive (which costs $1,800 on the other trims).

Performance Pros

Honda Pilot

Every Pilot comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 280 horsepower, 30 more than last year. The Touring and Elite get a new nine-speed automatic transmission, while the others make do with a six-speed unit. All except the base LX offer a Snow driving mode, as well as Mud and Sand modes when equipped with all-wheel drive.

Performance highlights include:

  • Handling/steering: We found the Pilot to be altogether more responsive than the old model, thanks no doubt to a 300-pound weight reduction and stiffer body structure. The all-wheel drive system can shift power between the left and right wheels for enhanced traction around curves.
  • Towing capability: All-wheel drive versions are rated to pull up to 5,000 pounds. Only a few crossovers of any size can do better.
  • Fuel efficiency: The Pilot achieves 22 mpg in combined driving with the standard automatic, and 23 mpg with the nine-speed (expect 1 mpg lower with all-wheel drive). It doesn't get any better than that for a V6 vehicle of this size.

Performance Cons

  • We'd like to see the nine-speed automatic make its way into all Pilot models, or at least more than just the top two trim levels. The six-speed doesn't offend, it's just a bit chatty and abrupt by comparison.
  • Keep in mind that the Pilot is still very much a full-size crossover. Don't expect anything approaching a sporty driving experience.

Interior Pros

  • The ability to haul eight passengers without a revolt is no small feat. The Pilot's comfy third row deserves special thanks for keeping the peace.
  • The floor behind the third row features a removable panel for extra storage space when you have a full house.

Interior Cons

Honda Pilot Seats
  • Even with the second row all the way forward, climbing into the back isn't as easy as we expected given the otherwise excellent interior layout.
  • The infotainment system relies too much on finicky touchscreen buttons. We'd welcome a conventional knob or two.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

We expect large passenger vehicles to ride smoothly, but the Pilot is downright suave when it comes to isolating its occupants from the road.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Other than being larger, the Pilot's styling does little to distinguish itself from the cheaper Honda CR-V.

The Bottom Line

The Pilot has entered a whole new realm of comfort and sophistication.