The Honda Pilot SUV continues to thrive in response to traditional family adventure needs and values as Honda sees them.
As manufacturers have moved away from the classic style, sturdiness and capability of the truck based SUV into crossovers with fancy styling accents, passenger car like rides and interior features to occupy the family, Honda has chosen not to go there except for those interior features which are important for family adventure.
Facing the challenge of the many changing market segment offerings that have gone to crossover SUV vehicles and now even to high end crew cab pickup trucks as family adventure vehicles, the Honda Pilot classic SUV for 2014 boldly remains unchanged from 2013.
For 2014, the Honda Pilot comes in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L (leather) and Touring. Pricing for the basic LX is $29,670 for the two wheel drive (2WD) and $31,270 for the 4WD. The next level EX pricing is $31,920 (2WD) and $33,520 (4WD) with the EX-L w/NAV (navigation) at $37,170 and the 4WD w/NAV $38,770.
The Honda Pilot Touring with RES (Rear Entertainment System) and NAV is the top-of-the-line and comes in 2WD for $39,820 and 4WD at $41,420.
The 2014 Honda Pilot had just begun to arrive in dealerships and one was not yet available for media test so we availed ourselves of the opportunity to take a week long ride and drive test of a 2013 Honda Pilot Touring w/RES and NAV 4WD in Alabaster Silver Metallic with Gray leather interior.
The Touring edition, standing tall due to its classic truck-like SUV modified boxy shape, rides on unique 6-spoke 18-inch Chrome-Look alloy wheels which give it the outward promise of providing a commanding ride adventure that is indeed matched by the actual performance of the Pilot.
Refreshed in 2012 with minor exterior changes and interior updates to provide more current features, the 2013 Pilot, and now the 2014, still presents its own unique blend of function and style. The Pilot's grille and front fascia feature the distinctive 3-bar horizontal design, while multi-reflector halogen headlights and integrated turn signals contribute to the premium look that is distinctly Honda Pilot.
Performance power for the Pilot comes from the Honda 24-valve all-aluminum - 250 horsepower with 253 lb.-ft. of torque - V6 engine with "intelligent" Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that enables the V-6 engine to operate in 6-cylinder mode for maximum power and in either 4-cylinder or 3-cylinder mode for increased fuel efficiency.
The Honda Pilot power train is completed by the standard 5-speed automatic transmission that features Grade Logic Control to help maintain the most appropriate gear when climbing or descending steep grades.
The available Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) system on Pilot 4WD models adds a fully automatic 4-wheel-drive capability, and features a "lock mode" that can deliver the maximum-possible torque transfer to the rear wheels to aid extraction from extremely low traction or stuck conditions for those adventure trips that provide a bit more challenge than you expected.
Fuel efficiency for this well-tuned power train is 17/24 mpg City/Highway with an average of 20 mpg in the 4WD. The 2WD is 18/25 mpg City/Highway with an average of 21mpg.
With the Integrated Class III Trailer Hitch system installed, this Honda Pilot 4WD Touring edition has a tow capacity of 4,400 pounds.
Our Pilot Touring edition had a One-Touch Power Moonroof with Tilt Feature above heated front row seating with 10-way Driver and 4-way Passenger Power Adjustments. Second row bench seating is 60/40 Split Flat-Folding with Slide and Recline features.
Making sure that the Pilot offers current and useful technology for the user, all Pilot models come equipped with a high-resolution 8-inch intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with rearview camera display (multi-angle on our Touring), iPod album artwork display, and user-loadable wallpaper function, plus Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, Bluetooth Audio and USB connection.
Our Touring edition came also with Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System offering 60 GB of total system memory (including 15 GB allocated for user media), voice recognition for three languages and the free FM Traffic feature for continuous updates on traffic and incidents.
The audio system was a 650-watt AM/FM/CD Premium unit with 10 speakers and a subwoofer and offers HD and XM Satellite Radio
For the family in the second row, there was the ceiling mounted DVD Rear Entertainment System with a high resolution WVGA screen, ear phones and remote control.
Other family and adventure friendly features include Tri-Zone Automatic Climate Control with Humidity Control and Filtration, map lighting in all three rows, a dozen beverage holders, four 12-volt power outlets and a 110-volt outlet in the console plus second row sunshades.
Notably, our Pilot Touring edition was configured in three rows that can actually seat up to eight due to the very generous interior space that enables a wider third row than others.
There is still eighteen cubic-feet of cargo space behind the third row seats which is the trunk space of a typical large sedan. For maximum cargo space, the second and third rows fold flat to provide 87 cubic-feet of total cargo space and impressively sufficient width for carrying 4-foot-wide items such a sheets of plywood or drywall.
Additionally convenient is the cargo floor area hidden storage well that provides 2.8 cubic-feet of additional space.
The power tailgate also features a lift-up glass hatch for convenient access to the rearmost cargo area.
Active safety features on the Pilot include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). Passive safety features include 3-row side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, driver's and front passenger's front and side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), and active front head restraints.
Honda also provides a wide assortment of accessory items for the Pilot to enhance its adventure capability for the family or outdoors adventure-minded owners.
They include roof and body attachments for surfboards, bikes, skis, snowboards, and Kayaks. There are Small and Mid-size roof boxes available for general equipment storage and roof mounted cross bars for attaching other devices or cargo as needed.
For the truly adventuresome, there is a 10x10 tent unit that attaches securely to the Pilot at the open rear hatch and provides ample room to sleep six on the beach, in the mountains or anywhere one chooses to stop along the way on their adventure in a Honda Pilot.