Eight is Enough

Some midsize three-row crossover utility vehicles claim seating for eight but barely make it comfortable for seven. The Honda Pilot is a rarity in the segment, delivering room for eight with ease. Its boxy layout is a key contributor in supplying sufficient space across all three rows.

Honda is one of the few manufacturers offering leather seating across all trims. The front seats are heated and offer optional cooling. Swap out the second-row bench seat for captain's chairs and those thrones are a close second to the front chairs. You lose a seating space in the process, but unless you need room for eight, go with the chairs. The middle seats move and fold forward with a touch of a button, supplying ease of access to the third row.

Cargo space measures just 17 cubic feet behind the third row but moves up to 46 cubic feet with the third row folded. Behind the first row, there are 80 cubic feet of cargo space.

Strong V6 Engine

The Honda Pilot relies on a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque to motivate this SUV. It is a strong engine with smooth acceleration and works with a 9-speed automatic transmission to send power to the front or all four wheels. The transmission is one of the silkiest in its class and that's an admirable trait.

When properly equipped, the Pilot pulls up to 5,000 pounds, matching the Toyota Highlander. However, that is behind a few competitors, including the Nissan Pathfinder and its 6,000-pound tow rating.

The Pilot delivers a combined 23 mpg and that is 1 to 2 mpg behind some competitors. A hybrid variant would clinch it for some customers.

Feature-Laden SUV

Models such as the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade have disrupted the segment, by delivering premium models for a modest price. Competitors such as the Honda Pilot have responded by dropping base trims, adding equipment, and otherwise making these models more competitive. Nevertheless, the standard Pilot now costs at least $40,000 with a fully loaded model pushing an eye-watering $55,000 in Black Edition guise.

Honda can rely on its stellar quality and reliability ratings to pull it off, but at least you don't have to move up the trim range to find a model you want. Indeed, the base EX-L comes with leather seating, heated front seats, ample safety gear, an 8-inch touch-screen display, and smartphone compatibility. If you want more, you will find it, but you will also pay for it. Discounting has never been strong on the Pilot and with the chip shortage impacting availability, prices will hold firm.

Strong Safety Score and Rating

Rigorous and ever-improving IIHS crash test and scoring standards mean the 2021 Pilot lost the Top Safety Pick rating it held in 2020. We do not know what score it will receive for 2022, although we are almost certain the Pilot will retain its 5-star rating from the NHTSA.

Honda's roster of standard driver-assist equipment makes this model a safe bet. Automatic high beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning make the safety grade. Also available are front and rear parking sensors.

Final Thoughts

The Honda Pilot remains a strong entry in a highly competitive segment. Honda doesn't get overly stylish with its largest model, but that's fine with its fans. The only upgrade that makes sense for some drivers is all-wheel drive, a $2,000 extra for snowy climates.

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