Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • Midsize SUV Buyer's Guide
  • 10 Most Fuel-Efficient SUVs
  • Compact SUV Buyer's Guide
  • 15 Best Family Cars of 2015
Go

2012 Honda Pilot

Overview
Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Honda Pilot Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.0

The 2012 Honda Pilot SUV nails the right combination of size, power, ability and value. Not as gargantuan as the Chevy Tahoe or Suburban, the Pilot can still accommodate eight people, has plenty of room for cargo and gets reasonably good gas mileage for its size. On the downside, the Pilot offers only a V6 engine, can't tackle Jeep-style off-road situations, and can only tow up to 4,500 pounds (2,000 pounds for the 2-wheel-drive model). To spur sales, the 2012 Pilot SUV receives new styling that somewhat negates previous complaints about the vehicle's lackluster looks. Of course, with fierce competition from such heavyweights as the Mazda CX-9, GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner, the Pilot isn't a shoo-in for best-in-class, even with its lofty Honda pedigree. Lacking some more modern features, such as the Explorer's adjustable AWD terrain settings and SYNC communication technology, the Pilot may not cut it with avid off-road junkies and techno types. But, for those who simply seek dependable, efficient and comfortable transportation for themselves and their family, the 2012 Honda Pilot SUV is an easy choice.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you need a vehicle that provides 8-passenger capacity but are dead set against driving a minivan, the 2012 Honda Pilot makes an excellent alternative. Strong, safe and easy to drive, the Pilot SUV can tackle jobs no minivan would dare; and with 4WD, snow days for the kids are a thing of the past.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Honda has a bad habit of bundling popular options by trim alone. If you're someone who thinks you shouldn't have to move to the highest trim level just to get navigation or a power liftgate, there are better choices. Those who need to tow heavy loads or enjoy going far off-road will be better served by a V8-powered body-on-frame SUV such as the Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Honda Pilot SUV receives a major front-end makeover, with more rounded edges, a softer grille and more chrome trim. EX and EX-L trims gain updated audio systems that include a 2GB CD library, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, and streaming audio, while the EX-L gains an 8-inch color Multi-Information Display. All trims see a 1 mpg increase in fuel economy.

Driving the Pilot

Driving Impressions Despite its size, the 2012 Honda Pilot SUV rides and drives very much like a large car. The firm suspension limits body roll, squat, and dive, yet is not so...

firm as to punish its passengers with every passing pothole or road distortion. We found the Pilot's steering a bit heavily weighted, but it is very precise and offers good feedback in the turns. On the highway the Pilot SUV tracks straight, and even strong wind gusts can't deter it from its intended course. The interior seems quieter than many large SUVs we've tested, but that's not a scientific finding, only a sense we get from test driving so many of the Honda Pilot's competitors. We love the 3.5-liter V6 for its gutsy response when we demand to go fast, and for its smooth, silent operation. We also like the fuel economy, which is near the best in this class. Although we didn't have a chance to test the Pilot's AWD system in the snow, we did venture up some dirt fire roads and found the VTM-4 AWD setup to be fairly capable of keeping the Pilot SUV moving forward through dirt, loose gravel and mud. A lock mode on the Pilot's transmission mimics a low-range transfer case, keeping power permanently flowing to all four wheels at speeds under 18 mph.

Rearview Mirror Camera Display
Available on the EX-L trim, this 2.5-inch LCD display – conveniently located in the rearview mirror – shows you what's behind the vehicle while in reverse.

Second Row Seating
The 2012 Honda Pilot SUV's second row offers excellent room for taller passengers and also provides LATCH systems for three child seats.

2012 Honda Pilot Details
2012 Honda Pilot photo Interior

In keeping with Honda's simple but functional design philosophy, the 2012 Pilot SUV's interior is a study in efficiency. The dash and instruments are easy to operate and logically placed. There are no fancy light shows here, no radical designs that look neat but don't work well in the real world, just the basics. Of course, the Honda Pilot's interior is by no means stark, and in EX-L trim it is downright plush. Legroom is more than adequate in all three rows, an unusual and welcome attribute in this class. Rear cargo space with the third-row seat in place, however, is not so abundant. Luckily, there is a large cargo bin below the floor for storing items, as well as ample roof space for a carrier rack. Fold the seats flat, and the 2012 Honda Pilot SUV can be used like a small pickup truck, or a sturdy steel tent with cozy accommodation for two.

Exterior
2012 Honda Pilot photo

With its new face, the 2012 Honda Pilot SUV somewhat softens its boxy and bland image, making it a bit more palatable to the fashion-conscious SUV driver. Still present are the Pilot's long wheelbase and short front and rear overhangs, a design that not only makes the 2012 Pilot SUV look more solid and stable, but that allows for easy maneuvering in tight spots. Honda's ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body structure ensures maximum strength from the unit body, permitting the front end to absorb more energy in the event of an impact and keeping the passenger compartment (and its contents) from harm. Stylistically, the new 17- and 18-inch wheels really bring out the best in the Pilot SUV's design, while clever features such as the flip-up glass window on the tailgate and the standard integrated tow-hitch serve a more functional purpose.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

A base 2012 Honda Pilot SUV comes with sport cloth seats, remote entry system, automatic headlights, power windows, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 17-inch wheels, front and rear air conditioning, an integrated rear cargo net and under-floor storage, auxiliary input jack and an AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and a subwoofer. The EX, EX-L and Touring Pilots add an 8-way power driver's seat, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, daytime running lights, Bluetooth and heated side mirrors. Exclusive to the EX-L is a rearview camera with a display screen imbedded in the rearview mirror.

Optional Equipment

Most of the additional features for the 2012 Honda Pilot SUV are tied to trim level and are not available as stand-alone extras. These options include a 512-watt AM/FM/6-disc CD premium audio system with 10 speakers, leather seats, power moonroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, corner and rear backup sensors, power tailgate, side-mirror turn signals, HD navigation system with voice recognition and rearview camera, 115-volt power outlet, a USB port and second-row integrated sun shades. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available only on the EX-L and Touring trims.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Honda Pilot's engine comes equipped with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology, allowing for an uptick in horsepower and torque, as well as improved fuel economy. This VCM technology, similar to the system used in the current Honda Accord, allows the vehicle to seamlessly run on three, four, or six cylinders, depending on driving conditions and requirements.

3.5-liter V6
250 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
253 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (2WD), 17/24 (AWD)

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Honda Pilot Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 307 Ratings for the 2009 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.6/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

I LOVE MY PILOT TOURING!

By on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, Smart interior, good gas mileage"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is my all time favorite car! This is my second one after my 2004 Pilot that has over 160,000+ problem free miles on it. I know that this is really early to say if the car is any good or not but I can already tell that it is superior to everything else! I know that the design is old but it is so smart and everything just works the way that it should. I looked at everything under the sun before going back to the Pilot. This includes Mercedes-Benz and other way more premium cars and the Pilot in my opinion is still the best! There is nothing that has the quality and the value of the Pilot or has the smart interior of this car. Also the exterior is tastefully traditional SUV which makes it not look like a tall Minivan without sliding doors. The powertrain is super smooth and gets excellent gas mileage! Honda really hit it out of the park with this car, if you purchase one you will not be disappointed!"

pretty satisifed

By on Thursday, April 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,800

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I love the SE model on the pilot, but chose for affordability to go with the LX. The seating is extremely comfortable. Very roomy and handles well."

3 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Love It!

By on Sunday, April 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"My husband did not want anything but a Chevy, Ford, or Dodge. I wanted a CRV. He went with me so I wouldn't make an impulsive decision (ha ha). He loved the look, the ride, the mechanics, the price, and that most of it was made or assembled in the USA or Canada. He refused to test drive the CRV, but we left that day with the Pilot. I was reluctant, but it won me over too. The third seat is ideal for extra passengers and we have lots of room. The mileage is about 18-22 MPG, depending on in town or highway driving. The only thing that bothers me is, I usually have to back in and out of the parking space to get the big vehicle in the center of the parking spot. People still manage to give me "dings". I imagine that happens with most large vehicles. We plan to keep it for a long time."

11 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Best SUV ever!!!

By on Monday, April 06, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 56,200

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

One of the cute controls on the back

"What a wonderful vehicle to drive this Honda Pilot Touring. Very dependable and comfortable! Makes me feel that I am driving a very well built/made intact vehicle. No lose sounds while driving, smooth and responds to my demand very quickly! This is a great choice if you are looking for a dependable SUV to the comfort of you and your family."

19 people out of 35 found this review helpful

One of the cute controls on the back

Very good vehicle.

By on Sunday, March 29, 2015

I don't own this car

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Great value. Very dependable."

Cons: "Hard ride. Too much road noise."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Great car but it rode too "hard" for me and had too much road noise. I sold it to my daughter who loves it. Great car for a family with seating for eight. Mechanically very sound. No problems the sixteen months I owned it. Also was good in all weather conditions including an ice storm."

7 people out of 19 found this review helpful

Good overall value, great in winter

By on Thursday, February 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Pros: value, reliability, size, comfort, and, best of all, performance in snowy/icy road conditions. Winters are long here. We get lots of snow and road conditions are often challenging for lesser vehicles. I yet to find a road, hill, or driveway, that the Pilot can't navigate. My last car was a 4WD 4Runner. The Pilot is far superior in the winter. Also, I like the fact that Honda doesn't nickel and dime you to death by making optional features that should be standard on a vehicle in this price range, like climate control. Much more bang for your buck when compared to the Highlander. Cons: gas mileage, inconvenient location of some dashboard controls, such as gas cover release."

28 people out of 41 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?