12 Best Family Cars: 2018 Honda Pilot
With a uniquely comprehensive combination of value, interior space, refinement, features and even fuel economy, the 2018 Pilot brings everything to the table. It holds its place as the class leader among three-row SUVs despite tough new competition, as evidenced by its third straight win for our Midsize SUV Best Buy award.
Families are practical minded, and the Pilot scratches that itch like few others can. For example, unlike many of its competitors, the Pilot offers generous room behind its third row for cargo, meaning you can haul eight people to the grocery store, get a week's worth of groceries, and drive back, all in the same vehicle. Alternatively, fold up a stroller back there and you'll still have room for more stuff. You can store some of that stuff in the storage compartment under the cargo floor; alternatively, stow the cover in the bin itself to expand the cargo space. Need even more space? Fold down all the seats and marvel at the cavernous interior.
Of course, there's more to the Honda Pilot than just cargo. The third row can actually accommodate three people, with good leg and headroom for adults as well as children. Pilot EX-L, Touring and Elite models offer clever, convenient one-button access to the third row.
The second row comes as either a bench or two captain's chairs, depending on model. Both are equally comfortable and boast features like multiple USB ports, power points, window shades and an available built-in entertainment system. There's also enough space to accommodate two booster seats and still have enough room in the middle for a third person, a nice touch. The front-seat passenger will be happy to note that even with a space-hogging infant seat in the second row, there's still plenty of legroom. And both driver and passenger will appreciate the logically arranged center console with its vast storage, multiple cupholders, plenty of USB ports, and the touch screen that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Premium materials and amenities
All this practicality would be useless if the Pilot were a drag to drive, but Honda has gone to great lengths to ensure that the driver and passenger get an experience that feels more premium than you expect for the Pilot's price tag.
The seats offer soft leather, and all Pilots get soft-touch surfaces where they're needed most, and a few places they aren't. The build quality impresses with straight seams, small gaps, and virtually flawless execution all around, even in the oft-ignored third row. Out on the road, the Pilot offers the kind of quiet refinement and comfortable ride we normally associate with luxury brands. That comfort doesn't come at the expense of cornering performance, nor does the on-road aplomb mean acceleration is an afterthought, as the 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter engine delivers plenty of horsepower, whether routed through the 6-speed or 9-speed automatic transmission.
If premium means more features, the Pilot also has you covered with features like second-row captain's chairs, a panoramic sunroof, widescreen rear-seat entertainment system with HDMI inputs, and other touches like a heated steering wheel and LED headlights.
These days, safety involves avoiding an accident as much as surviving one, and here again the Pilot aces its competition. Along with the expected five-star federal crash test ratings, and the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Pilot offers a suite of active and passive safety features under the banner of Honda Sensing. Standard on Touring and Elite models, and available on EX and EX-L, Honda Sensing bundles together automatic collision warning and braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and road departure prevention. Not to mention features like a rearview camera, and the clever right-side camera system Honda calls Lane Watch. While many competitors offer similar systems, you can get the Honda Sensing suite even in the EX model, starting at around $34,000. Not stepping up to the most expensive model for the safest vehicle is an incredible value.