2016 HONDA PILOT CROSSOVER UPS ANTE IN MID-SIZE MARKET
By Tom Crosby
The 2016 Honda Pilot crossover/SUV, the biggest and most powerful consumer vehicle made by Honda, was completely redesigned this year.
Known for its size and versatility, the 2016 Pilot is also rated most affordable among 12 midsize SUV’s by U. S. News and World, is 300 pounds lighter than the previous model yet bigger with more horsepower, has five USB ports and text/voice mail connection plus top standard safety features in its top trim.
Our test-drive was the top of the five trims, the Honda Pilot all-wheel-drive Elite. Cost: $47,300 – no options – and loaded with the latest safety aids, including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, collision mitigation, blind spot alert and rear cross traffic monitor. It received top safety crash ratings for everything except rollover protection (four out of five stars) in government tests.
This is the Pilot’s third generation (last upgraded in 2009) and it amps up in-vehicle technology with a panoply of connectivity, which like all actions while driving, has the potential for distraction, and drivers should still keep their eyes on the road and mind on driving without relying on the safety features.
Size-wise, the Pilot Elite is now sleeker, 3.5 inches longer, seating seven with heated second row captain chairs, and 13-inches of floor storage space behind the third row. Cargo space, with seat manipulation, reaches 108.5 cubic feet. One-touch third row access is easy and roomier but still tight seating for most adults.
For the first time in the U.S., Honda added torque vectoring to the Pilot, creating faster all-wheel-drive response capable of shifting power as needed to right or left 20-inch wheels. That creates solid handling and meshes well with Honda’s first 9-speed automatic transmission, silky shifting smooth under way but sometimes jerky from a dead stop.
New front struts and rear multi-link suspensions produce a smooth ride and inside is quiet enough to hear kids talking in the third row. A new direct-injection V-6 engine adds 30 more horsepower and nine more foot-pounds of torque for nice bursts of power when needed. Different driver modes adjust for road conditions. HondaLink provides a host of plugs and ports inside for electronic devices under Honda’s first panoramic sunroof. A second-row drop-down entertainment screen plays CD’s, storage spaces abound (a dozen cupholders) and the 8-inch dashboard screen has excellent navigation graphics and alerts for real time traffic. Fuel economy is excellent. Honda has sold 1.4 million Pilots.
LIKES: Safety, spacious, look, handling, ride, quiet
DISLIKES: Third row tight, jerky restarts after stop
BOTTOM LINE: Pilot great family vehicle loaded with comfort, safety features
- Base price w/destination fee $47,300 (no options needed)
- Curb weight 4,317 lbs.
- Wheelbase 111 inches
- Length 194.5 inches
- Width 78.6 inches
- Engine specs 3.5-liter, V-6, SOHC
- Horsepower 280 hp at 6,000 rpm
- Torque 262 ft.-lbs. at 4,900 rpm
- Transmission 9-speed automatic w/manual paddles
- EPA Rating 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
- Range 19.5-gallons
- Performance 0-60 in 8 seconds