Upon first glance, the 2016 Honda Pilot would appear a much larger specimen over the previous version, and you would be right. This is no slight-of-hand trick. Honda has stretched the Pilot’s platform to offer more interior space and give the vehicle a more mannered ride.
The market has change significantly since the Pilot was first introduced in 2008 and even when it was redesigned in 2013. Sport Utility Vehicles have gone through nearly the identical transformation as minivans. Where SUVs have gotten more gentrified and mellow, the minivan has gotten more aggressive in their design while retaining all of the functionality.
The redesigned Pilot is more crossover than SUV in styling. This, it seems, is to bring it more into the fold of the Honda SUV family along with the CR-V and HR-V. In fact, it appears there is more morphing of those two compact vehicles as they seem to be moving toward becoming larger, more spacious versions.
According to Honda, the Pilot is a redesign to accommodate all the occupants, delivering more family utility. With the expansion of the three-row seating, the Pilot can certainly accommodate a large family. Honda has expanded the accommodations in the third row adding more leg and head room, however I still feel this seat remain reserved for the more nibble and younger members of your clan.
No matter what you call it, Crossover or Sport Utility the more important aspect to the Pilot is how well it will fit into your particular life style. If you want beefy, go anywhere off-road abilities I suggest you look elsewhere. However, if you want lots of functional road tripping space with room to stretch out, more bins and storage cubby holes, cup holders and luxurious comfort to make those long road trips seem shorter, then the Pilot just might be your liberator.
Honda designers have given the dash, center stack and console a more refined look with tidying the placement of controls and gauges. A large touch screen display adds better visibility of the information provided, plus makes the controls a bit easier to manipulate, yet there remains a learning curve to the system.
My vehicle for this review was a top-of-the-line Elite model adding even more creature comfort including a panoramic sunroof that is the next best thing to the open air driving of a convertible. Add that the Elite model is also equipped with heated and ventilated (cooled) front seats and heated steering wheel. The second row captain’s chairs are heated and offer a cool fold out parcel tray.
The 2016 Pilot is offered in five models, LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and the now the new Elite. In all but the entry level LX model Pilot offers up more than the basics of the state of the art safety features, such as forward collision mitigation and lane departure alert and Honda’s right side camera that mimics the side view mirror view into the center display when the right turn signal is activated.
Power comes from a newly redesigned V-6, direct injected gasoline engine that transfers power to the road via one of two transmissions, a 6-speed automatic or a 9-speed auto. As with all present day engines, heavy use of electronics and new developments in engine management is a huge factor. The Pilot engine produces excellent performance along with good fuel economy.
Through the model lineup and various drivetrain configurations, fuel economy numbers run as high as 27 on the highway and 20 in the city, that’s not bad when you consider the Pilot, is as large as it is and can handle as much passenger cargo that it does.
I do not see a major number of owners driving their Pilots into rugged off-road environments or for that matter even off the pavement. However they could, in a well mannered way, if they had the desire. The Intelligent Traction Management System used in the 2016 Pilot needs little or no driver input. However, if the need arises for the driver to adjust for conditions, one can use the console mounted control to easily switch from normal mode into settings easily recognized as snow or mud and sand. The ITMS not only switches the AWD system it changes the throttle mapping and transmission shifting algorithm.
A few buyers may think that Honda engineers a getting just a tad bit ethereal when thinking of terminology for their advancing technologies. According to the folks at Honda the Pilot’s new engine is the result of their EarthDreams Technology powertrain series. The terminology sounds just a little too close to something that could be tagged as a Haight-Ashbury air induction series development.
The Pilot V-6 engine produces an admirable 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque through a broad band of rpm range. The application of power across a wide range offers up good acceleration and passing abilities.
While the Pilot may not be able to conquer the wilds of some far off jungle as some beastly SUVs lay claim, this Honda is equipped to conquer the urban jungles surrounding the local shopping center, school yard and suburbia. Invoking the confidence in the occupants that they can also, sure-footedly, conquer the snow covered roads to the ski village. All in the comfort and security the 2016 Pilot provides.