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2015 Honda Pilot KBB Expert Review

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MSRP $30,700

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Invoice $28,149
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KBB Expert Rating 7.7 / 10
This Car - 2015 Honda Pilot
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KBB Expert Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor - Updated Date: 6/20/2014

In the eyes of many, the 2015 Honda Pilot SUV is the perfect family caravan. Its tidy exterior proportions make it easy to maneuver through cramped parking lots and rush-hour traffic, yet with seating for up to eight passengers, it can hold as many people as most full-size SUVs. Add in Honda's reputation for reliability and strong resale, and the Pilot begins to look like a sure bet. However, due to its age, the Pilot does not offer many of the latest safety and infotainment advancements, such as the Nissan Pathfinder's Around View Monitor or the Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning and Blind-Spot Information System offered on the Ford Explorer. Then again, neither of these competitors offer seating for eight people.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you need the maximum seating capacity offered in a midsize SUV, the 2015 Honda Pilot's 8-passenger cabin fits the bill nicely. The Pilot's excellent fuel economy, reliability and resale figures just serve to sweeten the deal.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're looking for the latest safety and infotainment advances, Honda's 2015 Pilot SUV can't hold a candle to the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder or GMC Acadia Denali. Those who need to tow more than 4,500 pounds will have to look elsewhere.

What's New for 2015

The 2015 Honda Pilot SUV gains a new Special Edition trim, slotting between the EX and EX-L. The SE includes pewter-gray aluminum-alloy wheels, a power moonroof, XM satellite radio, and a DVD rear-entertainment system.

Driving It Driving Impressions

At first glance, the 2015 Honda Pilot's boxy SUV appearance might have you thinking it drives like, well, a boxy upright SUV. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Pilot's high center of gravity prevents it from carving up curves like a sports car, but one gets the feeling if it were lower to the ground, it might give some family sedans a run for their money. A fully-independent suspension and tight unit-body construction deliver a smooth and controlled ride, while the rack-and-pinion steering creates a sense of stability and precise, predictable handling. Under the hood, the 250-horsepower V6 delivers good performance, although it lags behind some competitors' engines. An available 4-wheel drive (4WD) system helps maintain traction on slippery surfaces and although not intended for serious off-roading, Honda equips 4WD versions with a "lock mode" delivering maximum torque to the rear wheels to compensate for extreme low-traction conditions.

Favorite Features

The Honda Pilot offers a variable torque management system (VTM-4) for maximum traction on slick roads or when snow blankets the path ahead. The system includes a locking mode for use at speeds up to 6 mph, ensuring maximum traction at the rear wheels.

The Pilot's 2nd-row 60/40-split bench seats not only recline for added comfort, they slide fore and aft to better accommodate passengers in the third row.

Vehicle Details Interior  Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo

The 2015 Honda Pilot's interior is a study in efficiency. All controls are logically placed and easy to operate. There's nothing eye-popping, just basic good design that works well. Still, the interior is not bare or bland, and in the EX-L trim level it is luxuriously plush. Each of the three rows of seats provides more-than-adequate legroom, welcome in the midsize category. Cargo capacity behind the rear seat is roughly equivalent to the trunk of a large sedan, there's a generous storage bin below the rear floor and plenty of roof space for a carrier rack.

Exterior   photo

With a fairly long wheelbase, short overhangs and generous interior space, the exterior of the 2015 Honda Pilot is defined by function and thus tends to upright and somewhat boxy. But it's not unpleasant and will certainly not go out of style in the next model cycle. Details include turn signals integrated into the halogen headlights, 17-inch steel wheels on the LX trim, 5-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels on the EX and EX-L trim levels, and 6-spoke alloys with machined surfaces on the Touring models. The rear glass flips up for access to the cargo area.

Notable Standard Equipment

The Honda Pilot LX includes 3-zone climate control, an 8-inch multi-information display with a rearview 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. The SE adds unique wheels and badging, plus a power moonroof and rear-seat DVD entertainment. The EX-L trims add leather seating with heated front seats and a power liftgate. Top-level Touring models include memory for the front seats, rear sonar proximity sensors and a premium sound system. Safety items include comprehensive electronic stability controls and driving aids and a full complement of occupant-protection features.

Notable Optional Equipment

Options for the 2015 Honda Pilot SUV are mostly linked to the various trim levels. Among the available features are Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive (VTM-4), a ceiling-mounted rear-seat DVD entertainment system and voice-activated navigation with integrated FM traffic data.

Under the Hood

Admittedly not the strongest engine in the class, the 2015 Honda Pilot SUV's 3.5-liter V6 makes 250 horsepower and is a willing and responsive performer for any reasonable driving situation the Pilot is likely to encounter. The 5-speed automatic transmission includes Grade Logic Control for maintaining the optimum gear selection when ascending or descending grades, thus minimizing annoying "hunting" between gears. With Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) the engine operates in 6-cylinder mode for maximum power or 4-cylinder or 3-cylinder mode for enhanced efficiency. The rear-wheel-drive (RWD) Pilot has the highest fuel-economy rating of any 8-passenger SUV, and the 4-wheel-drive Pilot has the highest rating for any midsize 4WD SUV. The Pilot also meets the tough ULEV-2 (Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle) rating of the California Air Resources Board.

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

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base model 2015 Honda Pilot LX trim level with rear-wheel drive is right around $31,000. The well-equipped EX-L model, with leather and 4-wheel drive, is near $38,000, while a fully loaded Touring with 4WD, navigation and Rear Entertainment System is well over $42,000. For comparison, the Ford Explorer runs from around $31,000 to a high of $53,000, the Nissan Pathfinder slots between $ 30,500 and $46,000, and the Toyota Highlander prices from around $31,000 to nearly $46,000. Before heading off to the dealership, check for the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price and an indication of what the Pilot is actually selling for in your area. Resale is also a plus with the Pilot, as it is expected to maintain residual values that are roughly competitive with those of the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder and higher than those for the Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Explorer.


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