Coming off of a 2019 update, the 2020 Honda Pilot sees only one major change. That’s the debut of a new special-edition trim, the aptly named Black Edition. Based on the range-topping Elite trim, the Black Edition is about styling more than anything mechanical.
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2020 Honda Pilot Overview
Choosing Your Honda Pilot
The new trim brings the Pilot family up to an overwhelming six trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, Elite, and Black Edition. Prices start at $32,645 including destination for a base LX and climb to $50,715 for a Black Edition.
Despite the plethora of trims, the Honda Pilot comes with only a single engine. Luckily, it’s a good one: a 3.5-liter V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
It’s the transmissions that separate the trims. The lower three all get a six-speed automatic, while the top three use a button-operated nine-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard on all except the Elite and Black Edition trims. Those get all-wheel drive, which is a $2,000 addition elsewhere.
Fuel economy checks in at 19 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 combined for six-speed models with FWD, or 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined) with AWD. Fuel economy increases slightly with the nine-speed transmission to 20/27/23 mpg with FWD, or or 19/26/22 mpg with AWD.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The Pilot can seat either seven or eight passengers, depending on whether the second row is a bench or captain’s chairs. The latter are available only on Touring trims and above.
Cargo space starts at 16.5 cubic feet behind the third row. Folding the rear seats expands capacity to 46.8 cubic feet, and most trims get 83.9 cubic feet with everything folded.
The Pilot has a strong safety record, as befits a family-hauler. As of last year, active safety features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist are standard on all trims. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on EX trims and above.
The base Pilot LX is a little behind the times with a 5-inch screen running audio duties. The EX trim and above add an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is much more modern. The system comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with USB charging.
Touring trims and above add navigation, a Blu-ray rear entertainment system, and a wi-fi hot spot capability, while Elite trims and above get wireless charging.
Other than the active safety tech and 18-inch alloy wheels, the Pilot LX doesn’t get much in the way of luxuries. Still, it has push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, power features, and all the essentials for family duty.
There isn’t much for options, either. Gray cloth seats are the only choice, and the exterior only comes in black, silver, or white. Buyers can add backup sensors for $500 or a CD player for $310, but that’s about it outside of wheel choice.
Most buyers will bump up to at least the Pilot EX trim. EX Pilots and above get the 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, blind-spot monitoring, heated seats, a power-adjustable front seat, and Honda’s “One-Touch” adjustable second row.
Gray cloth remains the only upholstery choice, but at least EX buyers get more exterior color choices. A wireless phone charger can be added for $225, but otherwise options remain minimal.
Pushing close to the $40,000 mark, the EX-L trim adds leather upholstery and a moonroof. A power liftgate and power-adjustable passenger’s seat are also included.
Navigation is available, but it requires the $2,000 Advanced Navi and RES package, which also includes a rear seat entertainment system.
Starting at the Touring trim, all Pilots use the nine-speed automatic transmission. LED headlights are also standard at this trim, along with premium sound, navigation, the rear entertainment system, 20-inch wheels, and a hands-free liftgate. The second row is heated, too.
A very notable option opens up at this trim: second-row captain’s chairs. They come perforated and heated for $300.
The Elite trim adds all the luxury features Honda can muster. This means perforated leather, ventilated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a panoramic moonroof, wireless charging, auto-folding side mirrors, and illuminated cup holders. On this trim, all-wheel drive comes standard.
New for 2020, the Pilot Black Edition is a fashion-focused trim based on the Pilot Elite. Mechanically, it has all the same features. The extra $1,500 buys black exterior trim, a black leather interior, 20-inch black alloy wheels, and red LED ambient lighting.
Many 2020 Honda Pilot trims offer solid value, but we would opt for the EX or EX-L. Unless you want the captain’s chairs, that is, in which case you’ll need to bump up to the Touring (or shop elsewhere).
2020 Honda Pilot Review
Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
- Stylish exterior
- Strong safety features
- Usable performance
- Comfortable, spacious seats
- Top trims lack luxury
- Bare base model
- A little conservative
- 9-speed transmission doesn't boost efficiency
Comfortable seating for all. Midsize SUVs like the 2020 Honda Pilot aren’t exactly rare; there are tons of options on the market these days. The Pilot offers seating for up to eight, or seven if you go with the second-row captain’s chairs. Unlike a lot of options, adults can sit comfortably in all three rows.
Passengers in the front seats are treated to seats that provide all-day comfort. In the second row, occupants get approximately 40 inches of leg room, which is impressive for the segment.
A one-touch button allows passengers to tumble down the second row for easier access to the rear seats. In the very back, riders get roughly 32 inches of leg room, making it comfortable for adults and tall teenagers.
Cargo space in the Pilot is impressive, too, but not class-leading. Behind the third row, there’s 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space. In total, it can hold up to 83.9 cubic feet of cargo.
One of the safer midsize SUVs. The Pilot comes with a lengthy list of standard safety features. Honda Sensing, which is the automaker’s suite active safety aids, is standard on every trim.
It includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, road departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. Other standard safety features include forward collision warning and automatic high beams.
In crash tests, the Pilot also earned high marks. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick, and the NHTSA gave it a five-star overall safety rating.
Handsome, conservative styling. While other automakers are going down the route of trying to make SUVs sporty and more dramatic, Honda’s stuck to its guns by penning a design that should appeal to the majority of consumers.
Clean, round lines mean the Pilot will age well. On the inside, its design is straightforward and uncluttered, putting ease of use before everything else.
Dependable performance. Performance for the Pilot won’t blow drivers away, but it’s enough to get the job done. It's equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 280 horsepower. The majority of Pilots come with a six-speed automatic transmission, while Touring, Elite, and Black Edition get a nine-speed automatic.
Unlike some of its competitors, the Pilot comes with front-wheel drive as standard and is offered with all-wheel drive as an option. The engine makes good power and is a refined unit, capable of handling daily tasks with ease. Its towing capacity of 5,000 pounds is good for the class,s too.
When properly equipped, the Pilot keeps up with the segment when it comes to fuel economy. It's rated at up to an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon combined.
Final thoughts. For consumers in need of an SUV with seating for up to eight or seven, the 2020 Honda Pilot should do the trick. It features a spacious cabin, comfortable seating in all three rows, an excellent list of safety features, and a capable V6 engine. Even against newer competitors, the Pilot can hold its own ground.
The Pilot isn’t the most enjoyable or athletic vehicle. If you’re looking for something that’s fun to drive, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The current Pilot dates back to 2016, which makes it one of the older ones in the segment. Some options in the segment have newer, modern interiors. The six-speed automatic can be clunky at times, while the nine-speed automatic doesn’t bring a huge uptick in fuel economy.
There’s a whole bunch of competition out there. The Kia Telluride is one of the new models on the road, but has quickly risen to the top. It has a more upscale design on the inside and outside, high-end features, and comfortable road manners.
For drivers that want something that’s more athletic, the Mazda CX-9 is a great choice. While the CX-9’s interior isn’t as spacious as the Pilot’s, it's much more enjoyable to drive, feels like a luxury vehicle in higher trims, and has a much more striking design.
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