Honda's only three-row SUV gets an update for 2012 that grants it more fuel efficiency and a snazzy new nose, but it's still the chunky, squared-off truck we've known since 2008. The Pilot retains a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, but subtle tweaks now give it improved fuel economy that Honda claims is best in class, even though it still uses a relatively dated five-speed automatic transmission, rather than the six speeds that competitors (and corporate cousin Acura) have.
The Pilot seats eight passengers, stretched across three rows. Passengers in the third row will find enough room for full-size adults, but just barely. Cargo room with eight passengers is class-leading, however, and a compliment of luxury goodies include a power tailgate, a 60GB hard drive for storing MP3s, Bluetooth, and an available navigation system. In EX trim, the Pilot goes all out with heated leather seats, three-zone automatic climate controls, satellite radio, and a power moonroof. A rear DVD entertainment system is also available for the kiddies.
Bodystyle: Crossover SUV
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: LX FWD/AWD, EX FWD/AWD, EX-L FWD/AWD, EX-L with Navi FWD/AWD, EX-L with Navi and Rear Entertainment System, Touring FWD/AWD, Touring with Navi FWD/AWD, Touring with Navi and Rear Entertainment System FWD/AWD
Most noticeably, the Pilot receives a new grille and foglight placement for 2012, as well as chrome strips on the doors. Inside, the Pilot is quieter thanks to double-glazed glass, clearer gauges, piano black center console trim instead of silver, and overall improvements to reduce road noise and harshness. Fuel economy also improves.
All Pilot models come with auto on/off halogen headlights, splashguards and rear privacy glass. EX and Touring models receive roof rails, alloy wheels, fog lights, body colored door handles and side mirrors with turn signal duplicators.
Honda reduced the number of buttons on the crowded console for the 2012 model year, responding to one of the Pilot's complaints. Another complaint, road noise, has also been curbed with thicker glass and new frame mounts. Interior volume is impressive with the seats folded, and there's a small bin underneath the cargo area for two extra cubic feet of hidden cargo space. Rear seat entertainment is optional on EX models.
Performance & Handling
The Honda Pilot offers one engine and transmission: a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. The five-speed automatic transmission lags against a field of mostly six-speed automatics, although fuel economy is still very good. Front and all-wheel drive configurations are available for all models. Unibody construction and independent suspension means the Pilot offers a commendable, sure-footed ride over any terrain, and Honda even claims that the Pilot will ford up to 19 inches of water, if your adventures take you in such directions. The rated towing capacity of 4500 lbs is a bit low.
Vehicle Stability Assist comes standard on all Pilot models, as well as rollover protection. All three rows of seats have side curtain airbags, and front occupants have front and side airbags with occupant detection, as well as active head restraints, for a total of 6 airbags.
EPA Fuel Economy
Front-wheel drive: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
All-wheel drive: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway
- Car-like handling and comfort
- Huge interior
- Multiple storage options
You Won't Like
- One powertrain available
- Limited towing capacity
- Five-speed automatic is dated
Benchmark of a competitive field
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet Traverse
- Ford Flex
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