The 2013 Honda Pilot is essentially a carryover from the 2012 model year, but Honda has made a few upgrades to its electronics content. New for 2013 is the HandsFreeLink Bluetooth connection for smartphones and iPod devices, as well as a USB port and rearview camera. The center console now has an 8" screen standard.
The Pilot competes in the busy midsize crossover segment. Because of this, some of the competition's vehicles are newer and better performing but Honda's overall packaging still makes it worth considering. It's interior is almost as big as a minivan and has spacious third-row seating. Equipped properly, the Pilot can seat up to eight passengers in relative comfort. The high roofline means back seat passengers will have more than adequate headroom, and with seats folded away it will swallow virtually anything one might purchase at a Home Depot. Cargo capacity with seats folded is 87 cubic feet.
If there is one area the Pilot seems a bit lackluster in it would be the interior quality. Newer vehicles like Hyundai's Sante Fe or Nissan's Pathfinder have more luxurious interiors, whereas the Pilot's seems a bit plasticky and less appealing. However, Honda's mix of utility and efficiency with an EPA rating of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined (4 wheel drive model) means it is still a contender in the segment.
The Pilot is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. The vehicle tested for this review is the 4WD Touring model, with an MSRP of $41,270. (total vehicle price is $42,100) As one would expect in the top trim level, this Pilot has extensive equipment. Leather interior, Honda Navigation System with Voice Recognition and rearview camera, hard disk drive, rear DVD entertainment system with wireless headsets, AM/FM/CD 10-speaker premium audio, Bluethooth audio, XM radio, USB audio port, 3-zone climate control, 10-way power driver's seat, memory seat and mirrors, 4-way front passenger power seat, heated front seats, auto-dim rearview mirror, programmable auto door locks, tip computer, 2nd row sunshades, HomeLink system, 115V power outlet, power tailgate, power moonroof with tilt, front and rear parking sensors, remote entry with security system, auto on/off headlights, fog lights, heated power door mirrors and integral Class 3 trailer hitch.
All Pilots are powered by Honda's 3.5 liter V6, rated at 250hp and 253 lb-ft torque going through a five-speed automatic transmission. Front wheel drive is standard, but AWD is available on all trim levels that shifts as much as 70 percent of power to the rear wheels if necessary. A locking feature routes maximum torque to the rear wheels in 1st or 2nd gear to help free up the vehicle if stuck. The V6 motivates the AWD Pilot from 0-60 in 8.9 seconds (Edmunds data) which is a little slower than other vehicles in the class, but attributable to the Pilot's 4,400lb curb weight. NHTSA crash testing earned the Pilot four out of five stars; four stars for front crash protection and five for side-impacts. The Honda earned the top rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for front-offset, side-impact and roof strength testing.
The Pilot's interior is comfortable, and driver sightlines to the front and sides are excellent. The rear blind spots are alleviated by the backup camera, now standard equipment ahead of the 2014 mandate. The automatic climate control system is easy to use, and minimizes the number of buttons and switches. If there is one obvious deficiency, it would be the limited driver's seat travel fore and aft. A six-foot driver may feel a bit cramped with the seat in its rearward position; a few extra inches of travel would go a long way in enhancing driver comfort.
On the road, the Pilot feels like a large, heavy vehicle but stable owing to its mass. The V6 feels a little strained upon hard acceleration, which may be due to the five-speed transmission. Newer models from other manufacturers have six-speed transmissions which allow the engine to work a little less hard maintaining highway speeds. In normal maneuvers, the Pilot shows a bit more than average body roll, but manages to soak up imperfections in the pavement with aplomb. Road and wind noise is surprisingly low, considering the vehicle's boxy shape. All things considered, the Pilot is a pleasant drive with good for its segment economy and lots of utility. Additionally, Honda's reputation for dependability keeps the Pilot in the top choices for SUV shoppers.
For more detailed information, visit http://www.automobiles.honda.com/pilot
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