The Honda Pilot was completely redesigned for the 2016 model and received some extra infotainment technology for 2017, but is essentially unchanged this year. While Honda's Odyssey minivan is also an excellent way to transport seven or eight passengers, the Pilot's SUV styling, available all-wheel drive and tow rating of up to 5,000 pounds make it an appealing choice for buyers who want a do-everything vehicle. The Pilot is a well-rounded three-row SUV that remains one of the most popular in its class.
Powertrain and specs
All versions of the Honda Pilot use a 3.5-liter V6 engine rated for a competitive 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Depending on which trim level you purchase, your Pilot's automatic transmission will have six or nine speeds. The six-speed automatic is standard on LX, EX and EX-L models. Those versions of the Pilot are rated for 19 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway when equipped with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive versions return 18/26 mpg.
Moving up to the Touring and Elite trim levels brings better fuel economy, thanks to the nine-speed transmission. Those models return 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with front-drive, and 19/26 mpg with all-wheel drive. Further helping fuel efficiency is the fact that the Pilot Touring and Elite have engine stop-start tech as standard.
When equipped with the appropriate towing accessory kit, the front-wheel drive Pilot can tow up to 3,500 pounds and the AWD model can pull up to 5,000 pounds.
Most Honda Pilots are equipped with eight seats, though the Elite model accommodates just seven because it has second-row captain's chairs instead of a bench. In every model, space for passengers and cargo is impressive, especially as the two rear rows fold flat to improve storage space. With all three rows of seats in use, cargo capacity stands at 16.5 cubic feet. Lowering the third row expands that to 46.8 cubic feet, and lowering the second row further increases room to 83.8 cubic feet. There's also a hidden storage compartment below the trunk floor.
The base Honda Pilot LX has an infotainment system with a 5-inch display, a single USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary audio port. Every other version of the Pilot uses an 8-inch touchscreen with far more features, including additional USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, a feature that reads incoming text messages aloud, satellite radio and Pandora Internet radio connectivity. Built-in navigation is an option on the EX-L and standard on Touring and Elite models.
All Pilots also feature a 4.2-inch color trip computer with a digital speedometer.
Safety technology is, unlike other Honda models, reserved mostly for the more expensive trim levels. Honda Sensing -- the automaker's brand name for its active safety suite -- is optional on the EX-L trim and standard on Touring and Elite models. It consists of pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is only offered on the expensive Elite model. But the EX, EX-L and Touring do come standard with LaneWatch, a camera-based system that displays a view of the passenger-side blind spot on the infotainment screen.
Options and pricing
The 2018 Honda Pilot is offered in five basic trim levels, some of which have other added-cost options. The prices listed here are for the front-wheel drive versions; adding all-wheel drive to any trim level costs an extra $1,900.
The Pilot LX starts at $31,895 and features push-button start, 18-inch wheels and the 5-inch infotainment system. Though a backup camera is standard, no other active safety features can be optioned. Moving up to the Pilot EX costs $34,325, with extra features including the LaneWatch blind-spot camera, fog lights, the 8-inch infotainment system, remote start, tri-zone climate control, and a power driver's seat. Adding Honda Sensing active safety tech costs $1,000.
The next step up is the Honda Pilot EX-L, which most notably adds on leather seats, one-touch sliding second-row seats, a power liftgate, a moonroof, heated front seats and a power passenger seat. There are three different upgrade options for the EX-L, but they cannot be combined and must be selected individually. Adding Honda Sensing adds $1,000 to the sticker price, or you can pay $1,000 to add built-in navigation, or $1,600 to add a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The Pilot Touring combines navigation, Honda Sensing, and the rear-seat entertainment system as standard, and starts at $42,965. Compared to the EX-L, it also adds 20-inch wheels, engine stop-start, a nine-speed automatic transmission, chrome door handles, USB charge points for the second row of seats and a 10-speaker, 540-watt sound system.
The most expensive Pilot is the Elite, which is sold only with all-wheel drive for $48,465. It builds on the Touring model with just a few extra niceties, including blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, cooled front seats, heated second-row captain's chairs, a heated steering wheel, LED headlights and a panoramic moonroof.
The 2018 Honda Pilot is available nationwide now.