What’s Hot: The Honda Pilot grows in size during the 2016 model year, while offering a more powerful engine and many of the latest high-tech safety features. The three-row Pilot goes upscale, adding on a new Elite trim. Honda has literally pushed the new Pilot outside of the box, with its current generation three-row crossover. The boxy exterior design no longer exists. Now the vehicle’s stylish exterior looks like a cross between the Chevy Traverse and the Honda Odyssey, which isn’t a bad thing.
The larger crossover offers a roomier cabin, which obviously lends itself to more cargo room, too. The Pilot’s interior is surrounded by a number of soft touches and amenities, making it look more contemporary. Surprisingly, the new Pilot, depending upon the trim, could easily wear a badge from its near-luxury sibling, Acura.
The 2016 Pilot has moved the crossover to a new league. We definitely found this to be the case with the model’s all-new Elite trim. Ironically, unlike the Pilot’s other trims, the Elite trim only seats seven due to its second-row captain chairs. The Acura-like crossover also wears 20-inch wheels, an oversized sunroof, LED headlights and a number of interior luxury amenities that sets it apart from the crowd.
To navigate the larger frame, the Pilot receives a new more powerful fuel-efficient 3.5-liter engine. While a 6-speed transmission is standard on the lower trims, a new 9-speed transmission is outfitted in the EX-L and Elite trims, adding to the fuel efficiency. Nwo, the Pilot includes a number of safety amenities that not previously available.
With the exception of the base LX model, every trim can be accessorized with features like the forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking, a radar-activated cruise control system, and a lane departure warning system. On the higher trims, the aforementioned features are standard.
What’s Not: For those stepping up to the brand’s new Elite Trim, they’ll also be forced to pay for a four-wheel drive system, whether they want it or not. As with the high-end Ford Explorer Platinum, there is no cost-saving front-wheel configuration available on the Pilot.
But why does this upscale trim not include Honda’s exclusive Lane Watch system, which helps when merging into the right or making right turns? And why hasn’t Honda added electric brakes? In our opinion, an upscale trim should offer all of the latest premium features. And the forward collision braking seems overly sensitive. Honda’s engineering team needs to consider reprogramming this system or consumers will opt to it shut it off. Even though the new Pilot is larger than its predecessor, the standard third row is designed for short trips only.
Drive or Drive By?: With U. S. consumers’ burning desire for crossovers these days, Honda has a hit on its hands with the all-new Pilot. The redesign model is available in a front-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive configuration with the latest safety amenities. The new Pilot includes a new Elite premium model that not only offers bucket seats in the second row and 20-inch wheels, but it also includes a panoramic sunroof, too. So, no matter the price point, there is a Pilot to fit every budget. And despite its Japanese heritage, the Pilots are built in Lincoln, Alabama.
Competition: Chevy Traverse LTZ; Ford Explorer Platinum; Toyota Highlander Limited; Nissan Pathfinder Platinum; Hyundai Santa Fe Limited; and Kia Sorrento Limited
Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $47,300 (base model $31,245)
Seating Capacity: 7 to 8, depending on trim
Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; electronic stability control system; daytime running lights; a capless fuel filler door; four cargo area tie-down hooks; a tire pressure monitoring system; a hill assist system; a rear privacy glass; a rearview camera; and a vehicle stability assist system
Standard Equipment (LX model): 18-inch wheels; a 6-speed automatic transmission; cloth seats; manual adjustable front seats; a manual adjusted air condition; a hidden storage well; a push button keyless ignition system; a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a 4.2-inch infotainment screen; a rear privacy glass; third row bench seats; and a remote keyless entry system
Standard Equipment (Elite model): 20-inch wheels; a 9-speed automatic transmission; an all-wheel drive system; leather seats; a leather wrapped steering with paddle shifters; a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD with satellite radio; an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment screen; a DVD rear entertainment system; a push button starter system; a push button (gear shift) selector; a tri-zone automatic climate control system; a 10-way power driver’s seat with a 2-position memory seating system; a power front passenger seat; heated front and second row seats; an extra USB port; an exterior temperature display; a homeline (garage) system; a tri-zone a/c system; a blind spot lane changing system with a cross traffic alert system; a panoramic roof; front and rear parking sensors; a remote engine start system; a power tailgate system; LED headlights with auto high beam system; heated power door mirrors; a rain sensing wiper system; a collision mitigation braking system; a radar-activated cruise control system; a lane keep assist system; a forward-collision warning system; a lane departure warning system and a road departure mitigation parking system.
Other Trim Level:
LX; EX; EX-L; and Touring
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 7-speaker 200-watt audio system AM/FM
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
USB Connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder/280-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage:
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.
PHOTOS: Jeff Fortson