By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
Many SUVs have a tendency to excel in certain areas and struggle in others, but the 2013 Honda Pilot strikes the right balance between value, performance and utility. The Honda Pilot offers the 8-passenger seating capacity of a full-size SUV while retaining the fuel economy of a mid-size model. The 7-passenger rivals, such as the new Nissan Pathfinder, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Toyota Highlander, each offer a slightly different take on what the ideal mid-size SUV should be. It may not have the Ford Explorer's off-road credentials or the engaging persona of the Mazda CX-9, but the 2013 Honda Pilot succeeds in its ability to provide practical-minded buyers with dependable, comfortable and efficient transportation for their families.
If you need a fuel-efficient vehicle with room for eight passengers, but refuse to get behind the wheel of a minivan, the 2013 Honda Pilot is the right choice. It doesn't take an engineering degree to operate the interior controls and Honda's solid reputation for quality and reliability provides an extra measure of peace of mind.
Honda's decision to group popular options by model grade helps simplify the purchasing process, but this ordering structure makes it difficult to outfit the Pilot with your favorite individual options without shelling out the cash for a high-line trim level.
Three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and an 8-inch multi-information display with a rear backup camera have been added to the Honda Pilot's list of standard equipment for the 2013 model year.
Driving Impressions Despite its size, the 2013 Honda Pilot rides and drives very much like a large sedan. The Pilot's taut suspension limits body roll, squat and dive, yet is not so...firm as to punish its passengers with every passing pothole or road distortion. On the highway the Pilot SUV tracks straight, and even strong wind gusts have little effect on its intended course. While the standard V6 delivers better fuel economy than the majority of its rivals, it is also the least powerful 6-cylinder of the group. Still, 250-horsepower is sufficient thrust for most daily driving situations. 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 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.
STANDARD REAR-CAMERA DISPLAY
Reversing in tight quarters can be a bit unnerving at times, especially in a bulky 8-passenger SUV. To help eliminate most of the guesswork from backing out of parking spaces, every 2013 Honda Pilot features a standard rear backup camera linked to an 8-inch display.
VERSATILE 2ND-ROW SEATING
The 2013 Honda Pilot's 60/40-split second-row seats slide and recline to comfortably accommodate adult-sized passengers. In addition, each of the three seats incorporates the LATCH child safety system.
In keeping with Honda's simple but functional design philosophy, the 2013 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. Still, 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 storage bin below the rear cargo floor for random items, as well as ample roof space for a carrier rack.
The 2013 Honda Pilot has a softer, less boxy and bland look than the previous generation, 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 Pilot SUV appear more solid and stable, but 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 protecting the passenger compartment and its contents. Stylistically, the 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.
The base 2013 Honda Pilot LX comes generously equipped with three-zone climate control, an 8-inch multi-information display with a backup camera and a 7-speaker audio system with Bluetooth. EX models add a 10-way power driver's seat, fog lights and automatic on/off headlights, while EX-L trims include a moonroof, leather seating with heated front seats and a power liftgate. Top-level Touring models include a 2-position memory feature for the front seats, rear sonar proximity sensors and a premium sound system. Occupant protection consists of six airbags, the usual sprinkling of electronic stability controls and active front head restraints to lessen the severity of whiplash-related injuries in the event of a rear-end impact.
Since most feature content is tied to trim level, the Honda Pilot's short list of optional equipment includes variable torque management four-wheel drive, a ceiling-mounted rear seat DVD entertainment system and voice-activated navigation with integrated FM traffic data.
The 2013 Honda Pilot's 3.5-liter V6 engine employs Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology, which provides improvements in horsepower and torque as well as fuel economy. This VCM technology, similar to the system used in the current Honda Accord, allows the vehicle to run seamlessly 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 mpg (rear-wheel drive), 17/24 mpg (4-wheel drive)
There being, of course, no such thing as a free lunch, there is also no such thing as no-cost standard equipment. Case in point, the 2013 Honda Pilot and its more comprehensive roster of standard features has raised the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the base LX version to just over $30,000, an $800 price increase over the outgoing 2012 model. Well-equipped EX-L trims start around $36,000, while the fully-loaded Honda Pilot Touring with 4-wheel drive flirts with the $43K mark. Apart from the base 4-cylinder Toyota Highlander, most of the Pilot's competition starts in the low-$30,000 range. Before heading to the dealership, be sure to take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page to see what buyers in your area are actually paying for the 2013 Honda Pilot. In terms of resale, the Pilot is expected to maintain the highest residual values in the segment.
By Jay (NJ) on Friday, April 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,600overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking reliable"
Cons: "Only 5 speed tranny, remove start? change holder?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"My review is for the technical type person; take it for what its worth. It is rather critical. I am not bashing my fellow Pilot owners if you love your Pilot and feel compelled to defend it at all costs; I am not like that. I do not have buyer remorse, but some things were lacking after I bought. All vehicles are designed and I figured the brilliant Honda engineers would have added the features I list in my cons. I will make my comparison to my old SUV which was a 2005 Suburban 1500 Z71 4x4.(yes I know I am comparing a full size 18 MPG max SUV but this is a reasonable comparison) Forgive me if I only list cons. You and I know the pros which is why we bought a Pilot CONS: 5 speed instead of 6 speed like the rest of the industry, this causes a 1000 rpm drop in the 2-3 or 3-4 shift. Honda, why not upgrade your tranny? I suspect the outdated tranny results in the dismal gas mileage. No remote start at least on the EX-L. Honda how can you skimp on a $50 electronic device. No change holder? Isn't this a no brainer? Top Heavy feel at highway speeds; ...the Pilot lets you know to be careful when making lane changes at 60 MPH. I suspect this may be due to undersized anti-sway bars but I am not sure. This is a comparison to the full size 8 passenger Suburban which is probably not a fair comparison given Suburban's wider stance and longer wheel base. Maintenance seems difficult, even an oil change. It doesn't look like the engineers thought much about the mechanic who has to work on the vehicle. Stupid method to engage 4WD = You have to shift into a low gear and then press the 4WD button? What if I need 4WD at speeds above 25 mph? I really did not pay attention to this aspect of the Pilot until later. I thought all modern 4WD vehicles allow you to drive at speeds up to 50 mph. Not the Honda Pilot. Even if you start out in 4WD, once you shift into drive at highway speeds, the smart engineers at HOnda designed your Pilot to shift out of 4WD. The Driver Information Center lacks the ability to easily change settings like when doors lock. The vehicle feels under-powered at all times. While the economy bar and eco button are nice, I find I am not rewarded for driving as efficient as possible. Yes I am complaining about my average city + combined mileage, which is 19.5 mpg. OK here is one positive in the midst of all this carnage; I drove from Atlantic City to the Poconos, all highway miles. I reset the trip odometer which also resets the mpg and I saw for the first time sustained gas mileage of 24.5 mpg at 65 to 70 miles per hour. Towing? Nobody at local Honda dealers knows anything about towing or electric brakes. The manual says you can tow, you have to dig real hard into the owners manual to find information about plugging in a wiring harness and electric brakes. Dealer, while willing to sell me a new SUV almost cautioned me to not treat the Pilot like it was a SUV. I read the owners manual and I am aware the max rated towing is 5000#. Back to the tranny: I think first gear should be geared lower for towing situations,...but alas Honda did not really envision the Pilot to tow anything more than a Jetski. Back window has 2 giant washers at the top. When you go to wash and squeegee the back glass, the big washers get in the way. I never had that problem before."
15 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Bud (FL) on Monday, April 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth, Quiet, Very Comfortable, Giant Cargo Area"
Cons: "Too many buttons for climate control"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my Pilot as a certified pre owned 2 years ago and it is a fantastic vehicle. It is a wonderful driver and great on long trips. After 45000 miles it has very few rattles and drives like a brand new vehicle. Smooth and quiet with plenty of power and all of the seats in the back fold flat for maximum cargo. The seats needed to fold flat for my job and I literally looked at all SUV's in its class and it has by far the best cargo area. Plus my dog loves it back there. My only complaint is too many buttons for the AC. It is virtually impossible to adjust the controls without looking. Best just to leave in on AUTO and let the climate control do its job. For those who have never owned a Honda, it truly is a different experience. The dealers treat you better than any non luxury brand on the market. It is no wonder that Honda can sell plain looking cars and have such loyalty from its customers."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By RGL (KY) on Wednesday, March 06, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality, Value, and Room / Space"
Cons: "Just a little negative is comfort and design"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Just like any Honda...the value, reliability and quality are present and accounted for! I traded-in a leased 2011 Toyota Rav4 Limited to a 2013 Honda LX to get more rear seat room for my growing son. While I was initially concerned over losing several features to keep my payment similar, it hasn't been much of a struggle because Honda does a good job...even on the base LX. There are certainly a few things I miss like Auto On lights and heated leather seats but that's not why I ever so slightly dinged the interior and comfort (i.e. an 8 out of 10 isn't bad). DESIGN - The molded plastic dash and cloth side door molding aren't quite the greatest...has a dry and brittle texture if that makes sense. Still, pretty good but could be better is all. Also, lots of buttons and knobs in the center console that take a little bit of getting used to. Not that the dash is overwhelming or not user friendly...just that it could be laid out a little bit better possibly. How I don't know. But the car I traded in had a lot more features (top of line vs. base model) and it seemed to flow more naturally I guess is the word I am looking for. Again, it's not complicated and not a huge ding. COMFORT - Honda seats are woven tightly with what seems like limited padding so the seat feels a bit firm and unforgiving. Keep in mind this is a base model so it's mostly to be expected. On the plus side is literally EVERYTHING else. The drive is very good. And the extra room (research showed this is the largest of the mid sized SUVs) is fantastic. And not just for my teenage son in the 2nd row but even for those of us upfront as there is more space left-to-right so it doesn't feel as cramped. I just don't think anyone is going to go wrong buying a Honda. Definitely not the 2013 Pilot!"
8 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By ME (KY) on Monday, February 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I really enjoy this car, however I have been a little annoyed with the # of recalls since owning it. Time isn't a luxury I can afford and having a one year old it's been difficult to find a time to take it in to have the recalls checked out/fixed."
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By rjturn on Thursday, January 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,400overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very roomy and can hold 8 people"
Cons: "Miss having smart key with push button start."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought the Touring model and it is very roomy and with SUV loaded with family of 4 and dog got 24 MPG on trip to Dallas from Houston. I seem to get better MPG than some other reviews but have a long ride to work and back and just yesterday was able to get 28 MPG back home from work. The ride is great and road noise seems minimal to me. There is lots of room for almost any item in the SUV and the features all work great. Best SUV I have owned at this point."
9 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Rob (VA) on Saturday, November 24, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality, Fun to drive, Dependable and best deal."
Cons: "MPG, Control buttons, No HID,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Excellent driving vehicle, superb handling and the Pilot is a quality SUV for the money. They are just a bit behind in the technology department with the competition. They need to offer more safety features on the touring model (ie: blind spot indicator, HID headlights and easier controls). And I don't understand why they only put two sensors on the front bumper corners, it should have four with such a large hood. The one that annoys me the most is when going in reverse, only one of the mirrors tilt down. I am pretty picky, but could not afford the vehicles that meet all my desires, but overall the Honda Pilot is a Best Pick. My mpg is not so good, I get 18-19 mpg and I drive like a grandpa. I can't even get 20 mpg with cruise control. But, my biggest reason for getting a heavy SUV is the safety aspect for my family if involved in an accident."
27 people out of 27 found this review helpful