KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/1/2012
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's New for 2013
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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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.