Family Car Review: 2016 Honda Pilot



Estimated Reading Time 4 Minutes

The basics

Base price: $35,490 + taxes
As tested: $50,490 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 9.3 L/100 kms
City fuel economy: 12.4-13 L/100 kms (depending on transmission)
Competition: Ford Explorer, Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander, etc

The review:

Third time’s the charm, they say. And the third generation Pilot
seems to stick with that tradition. It’s sleeker, more efficient, safer
and looks great… especially when compared its cube-like predecessor.
With a road trip planned with my parents, Devon, Roger and our dog for
the weekend, I thought it was the perfect time to cram it full of stuff
(and people) to test out its three rows of seating and cargo capacity.
We put 1,000 kms on it and here’s what we found.

From
a driver’s perspective, the new Pilot does not feel like a vehicle of
this size on the road. Whipping around windy British Columbia highways,
its heft was easy to forget. It’s, dare I say, sporty – especially when
sport mode was activated on the 9 speed automatic gear box in our
tester. And when you couple that up with the optional paddle shifters on
the steering wheel, there were times I felt more like a race car driver
than an SUV driving dad. Regardless of the trim you choose, the Pilot
comes with a 3.5-litre V6 engine but lower end trims come with a 6 speed
automatic transmission.

Also bestowed upon our tester was the veritable cocoon of safety
features – collision mitigation braking, cross traffic alert and the
lane keeping assist system to name a few. These features have helped boost the Pilot into a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
But the lane keeping tech got a little tedious after a while. The Pilot
will recognize the lines painted on the road and help keep you in the
middle of your lane by ever so slightly steering the vehicle for you.
Consider it a nudge in the right direction, as you still have to keep
your hands on the wheel. But it feels very odd to have a car fighting
you through the steering wheel. Honestly? Much of the time, I just
turned it off.

Standard features on this car are pretty impressive including heated
front seats, a rear back-up camera, automatic climate control, push
button start and remote start. But you have to pay more for features
like all wheel drive, a power tailgate and LED headlamps.

From an interior perspective, the new Pilot is much more refined as
well. The infotainment system is intuitive and easy to use although it
does mark up with fingerprints way more than any other system I’ve come
across. Some people are bothered that there isn’t an old school volume
dial. It’s part of the touch screen and I say, so what? It’s still easy
to use and looks far more streamlined as a result.

Rear
passengers will have a little bit more leg room than they would’ve
found in the old Pilot. It’s now 9 cms longer. On our trip, everyone in
the back two rows said they had enough legroom. But my mom, who sat in
the third row and is 5’5, said you wouldn’t want to be much taller than
that for long haul journeys. Here’s something I don’t like about the
highest trim Touring package that we had: the second row only had two
captains chairs rather than three seats. All other trims seat eight
while the Touring trim only seats seven and forces you to use the third
row for more than four passengers.

And that’s the thing – when that third row is down, your cargo
capacity is vacuous. The Pilot passed our standardized trunk test with
flying colours. Put that third row up, however, and cargo capacity gets zapped pretty quickly.

All in all though, the Pilot reboot is a very comfortable, safe,
surprisingly efficient highway car. We averaged 9.8 litres per 100 kms
on our 1,000 km road trip. That was mostly highway driving, but still,
for a car of this size on mountainous highways, that’s nothing to sneeze
at. And with its improved styling, not as many people will be turning
their noses up at the sight of this car either.

The takeaway:

Family Wheels pros:

  • Much improved interior and exterior
    styling
  • Surprisingly sporty
  • Excellent highway fuel economy for a car
    of this size
  • Good list of standard features

Family Wheels cons:

  • All wheel drive isn’t standard
  • Limited cargo when the third row is up
  • Highest trim level only seats
    seven rather than eight passengers
  • Lane keeping technology a little too
    bossy

Family Wheels target: 2-3 child families that don’t always need the third row

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5

Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5

Family Wheels trunk test score: 5/5 when third row down, 2.5/5 when up

Family Wheels driveability score: 4/5

Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5

Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

Family wheels final score: 23.5/30

~ Paul Karchut is the award-winning journalist behind FamilyWheels.ca. Check-out his site for more reviews and find him on Twitter @FamilyWheels.

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