Honda Pilot (2016)

Honda Pilot (2016)

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • Lots of great safety features. Standard on the top trim levels are collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and even a “lane keeping mode” that shakes the wheel if you doze off and start pointing towards a guard rail. This suite of features, sold as Honda Sensing, is optional on lower trim models.
  • Seats eight, flexibly, which is pretty nice. I guess the catcher can ride on the roof.
  • The 2016 Pilot is a new design. Its wheelbase is about two inches longer than last year, and the vehicle is a little longer overall. One result is that the third row of seats has a bit more legroom than in previous years. Meaning? They’re less horrible for short trips if you’re an adult.
  • When the third row of seats is folded down, the cargo area is enormous. An up and coming Mafiosi, who can’t afford an Escalade yet, could put a ton of bodies back there, saving many trips to the NJ dumping grounds.
  • Ride quality is good. Ride is tuned for comfort, and the Pilot absorbs bumps easily and smoothly.
  • Very good power from the 3.5 liter V6, available instantly at all speeds. Typically smooth Honda engine.
  • Aside from a small amount of wind noise from the sunroof area (which we hope Honda will address before the production model comes out), the inside of the Pilot is very quiet. Honda did a good job with the sound insulation.
  • Cons

  • It’s big. Really big. It’s a pain in the butt to park, and maneuver in crowded urban environments.
  • Handling is sloppy. This is a big, heavy vehicle, that doesn’t really like to turn. If you’re used to agile, little Hondas, this ain’t one of them. This is the price you pay for the comfortable ride – little connection to the road and lumbering cornering.
  • The higher level trim options come with a new, ZF 9-speed automatic transmission that has been generating all kinds of complaints in Jeeps and Chryslers. Beware. The lower level trims have the tried and true Honda 6-speed automatic.
  • The top–priced Elite trim level we tested came with a blind spot monitor, which is great. Everyone car should have one. But the lower level trims have only Honda’s LaneWatch system – which uses a camera on the right side of the car to show you what’s approaching on your right when you put on your right directional signal. That’s a great feature in the city, where you can see bicyclists and pedestrians coming up from behind. But it’s not a substitute for blind spot monitoring on both sides. Even cheap cars have blind spot monitoring now. Why not offer both?
  • This year, the Pilot has added Start-Stop functionality, to improve fuel economy. But it’s not a particularly smooth Start-Stop system, and we noticed a glitch: There’s a notable lag in the power steering when the engine restarts and hydraulic pressure is building up in the system.
  • The Pilot has got to have the slowest power windows in history. They’re positively glacial. You’ll be distracted, though—because they’re a bit noisy, too.
  • The Pilot is supposed to get 26 on highway, but we only got 21 MPG, when driving in the (relatively warm) winter here in Our Fair City, at 65 MPH. And that’s despite the direct injection engine and a new, advanced, and undetectable cylinder deactivation system. Overall mileage is supposed to be 20 MPG, which is about average for similar vehicles.
  • The touch screen infotainment system is ridiculous. There are no knobs at all. Not even a volume knob. Knobs are one of the best ergonomic features known to man. Why Honda would forego them is a mystery to us, and an unpleasant one.
  • Having to reach (a long way) for the touch screen in the center of the dashboard, take your eyes off the road, place your finger precisely on the right spot, and then hope you hit the right pixels is a big step backwards in interior ergonomics, in our humble opinion. Maybe they can add a trim level above Elite: The Pilot Knob. Then those of who want volume and tuning knobs can pay an extra thousand bucks and get them. It might be worth it.
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