By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
250 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
253 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (2WD), 17/24 (AWD)
By Chris on Monday, October 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price and holds value!"
Cons: "Some issues with interior cabin parts becoming det"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned since new. Vehicle is five years old with 115K miles and some small attachments are breaking like cargo fasteners, rubber liner for sunroof. Also, I had to replace the power steering shaft at 90K and the rear wiper has a short and not worked for last 4 months. Overall decent vehicle and comfortable for 7 - 8 passengers. Similarly equipped, this vehicle was $5K less than an Acadia in 2009 but holds its value better."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Sheila on Thursday, October 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "size, comfort"
Cons: "blind spots"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"this vehicle was the best choice for me when I ran a church youth group, had a 165 pd dog, and carted kids around town! It was huge and incredibly comfortable. Having a bad back the seat was plush. I felt there were blind spots located around all the windows of the vehicle and did often back into objects that were not shown in the rear view camera mirror. Other than the blind spots, this vehicle served me well like all my Hondas have."
By Des on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfy to drive & ride in. Lots of cup holders etc."
Cons: "Of course, I wish it cost less ;)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I also like all of the storage areas everywhere & cup holders. It is comfortable for long drives as well. I also like how you can open the top back window, instead of the whole back...helpful when taking & putting groceries (& things) in & out. We have never had any issues with our vehicle. We have just had the regular maintenance things to take care on it (oil changes, etc...). With an active family with 3 boys, it is a great vehicle. Even when the kids move out of the house when they are older, I will still want it. :)"
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Vron on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Prob most comfy SUV out there."
Cons: "GAS!!!! It's like driving a V-8 towing 10,000lbs!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Perfect SUV! I've wanted for years and I leased the 2014 EX-L 2WD. Buuuut, the gas mileage is by far the worst out of the 13+ cars I've owned. At one time, in my young adult before kids life, owned a Ford F-150 Harley Davidson which has a supercharger in it averaging 11 mpg. I'm averaging 12mpg 50/50 city/hwy. Not impressed! Honda has some work to do with their SUV's regarding gas mileage."
14 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By redtentgal on Sunday, August 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great features for price - excellent value for SUV"
Cons: "gas mileage not as good as expected"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Pilot balances need to haul people/stuff with decent features. We selected the vehicle primarily for safety and ability to transport lots of people. Very satisfied in these areas. There is actually less space than the minivan we owned previously, however. A bit of a surprise. The fold down capability of the seats helps. Our Pilot has been extremely reliable with very little cost to repair or maintain. The quality of the interior is very nice. Leather has held up well to three teenagers and pets. The appearance of the Pilot is a little boxy and the interior is sparse. We feel this will probably affect its resale vs. other sumptuously appointed and rounded SUVs."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By lucy on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "over all great everything"
Cons: "gas mileage not the best"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Have loved this car. Comfortable,beefy, drives great.Bought it because I was commuting far& we can have nasty road conditions in winter. Handled very well in bad weather. Retiring & don't need this type car now. Will miss it"
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful