Model: 2016 Honda Pilot Touring AWD
Drivetrain: 3.5L i-TEC V6 engine with 280hp @ 6,000 RPM and 262lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM
Price as tested: $43,870 USD (52,362 CAD) – $30,145 USD LX base ($37,362 CAD)
Infotainment: HondaLink system with 8” glass touchscreen, Bluetooth, triple view reverse camera.
Comfort: Heated ventilated driver, passenger and second row captain’s chairs. Cooled front seats. Full perforated leather seating front and second rows, leather seating third.
Honda has done a lot to make the 2016 Pilot stand out in a crowded market segment. Packed with the latest Honda Sensing technologies, highlighted by Lane Keeping Assist System and Adaptive Cruise Control, this Pilot is one of the most intelligent vehicles I’ve ever driven. Interior design is fresh, comfortable and solid. Honda’s legendary build quality is throughout. The Touring trim on the Pilot comes with two captain’s chairs in the second row. These comfortable chairs move quickly out of the way with the single push of a button, even on a steep opposing incline.
Honda’s latest infotainment offers a glass touchscreen, similar to your tablet or smartphone. It’s fast, responsive, and easy to navigate. Navigation features live traffic and route changes, though we found its suggestions confusing at times. Audio quality is easily the best we’ve heard, while road noise is pleasantly tamed. As a package, the 2016 Honda Pilot Touring is an excellent SUV, easily rivalling its German competitors.
Total: 31/35 – 4.5 stars
Let’s start off with what is probably the best part of the new Honda Pilot. Introduced for this model year, and in the Touring trim only, Honda has mated a fantastic nine speed transmission to their 3.5L i-VTEC V6. The result is a delightfully responsive, but fuel efficient, ride. Transmission shifts are silky smooth. It never felt like the transmission was searching for the right gear, or that it was in the wrong one. It rode the RPMs a bit higher while the engine was cold, which changed how the driving dynamics felt, but not to the point of being harsh. Acceleration could be smooth and pleasant when you wanted, and aggressive when you needed. I really enjoyed the new shift by wire in the Touring. Gone are the intrusive knobs and levers, here instead is a sleek button based drive selection.
Power is sent to all four wheels via Honda’s all-wheel drive system. Even in poor driving conditions the Pilot never struggled for traction. Braking was responsive. Despite the all-wheel drive system in place, the Pilot easily achieved the posted 22 MPG (11L/100km) rating, actually posting a test average of 10.7L/100km (22 MPG). Honda’s new nine speed transmission did its job, keeping the Pilot engine in a maximum efficiency range, even at freeway speeds.
With such a smooth drivetrain powering it, Honda set the stage for an incredibly comfortable vehicle. Compared to many of its competitors, the Pilot has one of the best rides in its class. Road noise is well muted. Suspension is tuned slightly stiffer, but still capably absorbs rough roads and pot holes. Ride height gave good clearance in snow, but didn’t make the Pilot difficult to get into. Honda equips the Pilot Touring with a sunroof and panoramic moon roof. The result is a bright, airy interior, and an instant hit with the kids.
With the second row captain’s chairs, all of the front passengers enjoy a very comfortable ride. Perforated leather is soft to the touch. All four seats were equally comfortable, sliding adjustability on the second row allowed them to accommodate adults of all sizes. The third row suffered from many of the comfort issues third rows in this class do. However, when compared with the others, the Pilot had the best third row comfort of them all. Kids or teens would be comfortable for most short or moderate trips.
The SUV segment has always suffered a bit in practicality for large families when compared to minivans. That said, the Honda Pilot made a strong argument for team SUV. While its swing open doors leave tight entries in parking lots, stiff lock points keep the doors held in place while you maneuver things or kids in and out. Ride height makes accessibility very easy. With all three rows up the Pilot offers moderate space for luggage or groceries. It was difficult to get a week’s food and a stroller in, but it’s still actually more than you get into other SUVs this size.
Honda has outfitted a single push button seat release on the second row. It works flawlessly, even on steep inclines. Third row access through the gap was acceptable. For the Touring model, the second row is reduced from a three passenger bench to two captain’s chairs. While more comfortable, it takes away from putting three kids seats in the front and allowing you to stow the third row. The cubby in-between the two chairs is stationary. Having the option to move or stow it might increase access into the third row.
This Honda Pilot Touring is the first vehicle I’ve driven with an all glass touch screen. Its gesture controls take all the familiar motions from smartphones, or tablets, and brings them into the automotive world. Browsing around the navigation function was easy and responsive. Menus loaded quickly, and the interface was clean and fairly intuitive. Most of the functions were easy to find on first introduction. Phone pairing was a breeze, done in seconds, but the HondaLink system never did figure out text message notifications from my LG G4 phone. Calling and Bluetooth audio worked as expected, however.
Honda ships the Touring with its rear entertainment system. While not the same widescreen featured in their Touring Odyssey, inputs are front and center. With RCA and HDMI inputs, coupled with a 150W AC plug, you can bring your gaming system with you. The Pilot Touring comes with a 540W, 10 speaker, premium audio system with 5.1 surround capability. Occupants are treated to fantastic acoustics and theater like movie sound. The Pilot features full keyless technology, with push button start and proxy unlock.
Probably the best technology packed into the Pilot is the Honda Sensing capabilities. Adaptive Cruise Control worked flawlessly in a variety of freeway and rural highway conditions. Lane Keeping Assist System maintained your position in lane accurately on straits and mild curves. Blind spot monitoring has alerts inside the Pilot’s cabin, instead of out on the mirrors. You can select from three different camera angles on the reverse camera, and the Pilot warns you of oncoming traffic you might not see. Honda also equips the Pilot with Forward Collision Warning and Collision Mitigation Braking Systems. Thankfully, we didn’t have to test these features.
Honda has put a lot of effort into the redesign of the Pilot. This top tier Touring model has a lot of technology, comfort and performance. If you’re in the market for a premium SUV, the 2016 Honda Pilot Touring should definitely be at the top of your list. It gives you a lot of the technology you find other high end SUVs, but at a lower cost of entry, and with little comfort or performance sacrifice.