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 Tony on Sunday, March 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased a 2014 have already put 10000 mi. on it ,went to Florida and back averaged around 21 MPG,NICE RIDE AND COMFORT,since owning have averged 18.9 MPG ABOUT 50/50 DRIVING.I traded a 2013 CRV with 24000 mi. in for the pilot to get more cargo space and,comfort,and it accomplised that mission,the CRV is also a great vehicle, but not enough space for my needs.I plan on driving this pilot for a long time,it can do it all with the 3rd row seating and towing capacity and the MPG not that bad for the size of vehicle,it also does very well in the IL. snow."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Pilot-owner_in-Maryland on Friday, March 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, space, ride quality, smooth transmission!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My first Pilot was an '05 model, that I had for 7 years and 100K miles. Now I have a new 2014 EX 4WD that I love already. It's more hi-tech than my first Pilot, with a Bluetooth hands-free link and USB/MP3 ports. It's got the same strong, smooth engine and transmission as my first Pilot. Same spacious interior and cargo area. Same wonderful, smooth ride. A significantly quieter interior that blocks out almost all road noise. An even more beautiful exterior, that is unlike most other modern SUVs that have an ugly, glorified station wagon look. The same solid, very tough build. I love everything about this Pilot and if I were Honda, would not change a thing. It's a terrific vehicle!!!!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By oshidashi on Monday, March 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfy, roomy, fun, versatile, pretty, practical"
Cons: "Nothing yet"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had this SUV for 6 months of touring western US. Ran great in desert, beachside, and in mountains. Incredible space, and comfort for family of 7: 5 adults + 2 kids. We all fit and were very comfortable and all our "stuff" for a week in Yellowstone fit. Lots of nice extras like plenty of cup holders, lights for each row, hidden storage spaces, electric outlets, ... Ran great, got 18 mpg fully loaded, 4WD got us easily through some snow issues and mountain passes. Now setting it to tow a travel trailer - can tow a max of 4,,,,500 lbs. with its 4WD. Looks great, super visibility for driver, great stereo- played our iPods and we could adjust it play to only in front, all over, or only back. Same with AC and heater - each section of car could adjust to their needs. An A+++ ranking from our family. Mahalo Honda!"
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Al on Thursday, March 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good solid workhorse"
Cons: "Road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"It is good and solid, with a comfortable ride and plenty of pep. The only negative I can think of is the very annoying, excessive road noise."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Ken on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Very disappointing gas mileage, both city and hwy. 18-19/22-23 Computer system is difficult to use and looks like a last minute add on. Nav. system is very difficult to operate and not up to date. Need touch system Back floor is slanted to the rear so that items slide out. Oil change at 3750 is very outdated. Most new cars are between 5000 and 7500. Downshift to 3rd gear is outdated. Most new cars downshift with touch of the brake. Sound system is adequate but not premium. Transmission should be a six speed. Comments are on a 2013 Honda Pilot Touring with all available options."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By SINY on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "Brakes are very low; motor races while braking"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Only had the car for a few months, with just over 3,000 miles. The brakes are very low. Every few days, sporadically while I'm at a stop the engine will start to race and the vehicle wants to take off. I have to put it into park and rev the engine a few times to make is stop. It's been back to Honda multiple times and they say that can't find anything wrong and that's just the way the brakes are. Also within the first month I had it, it was recalled for a possible piston malfunction that if seizes while driving could get you into an accident. They did take the SUV right in and gave us a loner for three days. I usually don't write reviews but I wanted to see if anyone else was having similar issues, especially the motor racing while at a stop. We're looking to trade it in some time this year if these things aren't taken care of."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful