Midsize SUV Comparison: 2017 Honda Pilot
Right for so many reasons
Starting Price: $31,685 | Price yours
Above Average: Thoughtful, versatile interior, comfortable carlike ride, fantastic resale and reliability
Below Average: Infotainment interface
Consensus: A practical, smart choice that also offers a rewarding driving experience
When it comes to 3-row midsize SUVs, it's what's on the inside that counts. In the case of the Pilot, the refined, tech-savvy interior has been designed with enough smart touches, space and versatility to make Honda's SUV a worthy minivan alternative. The Pilot offers generous space in all three rows as well as a large cargo area. And all that space is extremely easy to use and reconfigure: the slide-and-recline second row is filled with plenty of amenities including seat heaters and HVAC controls. Accessing the third-row -- one of the roomiest in the segment -- is literally as easy as pushing a button. And with both rows folded, the cargo space is among the best in class.
Making the Pilot even more appealing is its demeanor on the road. The Pilot's ride is comfortable, and steering and braking feel are excellent. The V6 engine provides plenty of power, but given the choice we'd rather have Honda's 6-speed transmission behind it than the 9-speed that comes standard on higher trim levels. Driving Honda's biggest SUV feels similar to driving a large sedan. Another important part of the mix is Honda's continued emphasis on safety. Honda's LaneWatch side-view camera system is standard on most trim levels, while the top-level Pilot Elite in our test had Lane Keeping Assist, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control, part of the Honda Sensing suite of safety and assist features, plus blind-spot and cross-traffic warning systems.
Honda has earned a stellar reputation for building high-quality vehicles that are made to last, and the Pilot reflects that Honda hallmark with top-notch resale value and low cost-to-own numbers. A versatile, modern interior, refined driving experience and fantastic resale value are key reasons the Pilot is the Kelley Blue Book Midsize SUV Best Buy for 2017. It's a combination that's easy to recommend.
2017 Honda Pilot
Between the Pilot's supple ride, comfortable seats and quiet cabin, road trips are quite pleasant in all three rows. The 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 merrily hums along on the highway, while also providing fuel economy that's above average for the category. The Pilot's safety systems are there in case of surprise moves by other drivers or in the event of driver fatigue. Features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and road departure mitigation are confidence-inspiring.
The Pilot's 9-speed automatic transmission is a bit more finicky than the 6-speed, something we noticed more in traffic than on the highway. The Pilot provides great outward visibility, plus the cross-traffic monitoring was extremely helpful in parking lots. Less helpful was the Pilot's wider-than-average turning circle, which made parking-lot maneuvers a bit more challenging.
The interior is attractively designed yet highly practical, with plenty of easy-to-access storage spots, a huge bin in the center console, and plenty of power and USB ports throughout. The interior uses soft-touch materials in the right places, and Honda's attention to detail can be seen in consistently small panel gaps and the vehicle's quiet demeanor. This is one of the few SUVs in its class that can seat eight instead of the usual seven, which makes an even stronger case for the Pilot as a minivan alternative.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard on every trim level except the base LX, and the touchscreen infotainment system is mostly easy to use, except for the lack of a traditional volume knob.
Rear Seat Room
The Honda Pilot is near the top of its class in terms of passenger volume and ease of use. The second row offers plenty of room, as does the third row. Getting into and out of that third row is a snap: a button on the second row seats quickly tilts and slides the second row forward. There's plenty of headroom and legroom in that third row as well, which is especially impressive considering the Pilot can seat as many as three people in the back row for a total of eight passengers.
Fold down the second and third rows, and the Pilot can swallow 83.9 cubic feet of gear. It even offers nearly 50 cubic feet of space behind the second row. With the tailgate open, the space is nice and wide and the liftover is fairly low, making it easier to load cargo. There's also a handy underfloor cubby where you can hide valuables. Another thoughtful feature is a stowable cargo shelf that makes even better use of the space in the cargo area.
With all-wheel drive, the Pilot's fuel economy is an EPA-rated 22 mpg combined. Whether in front- or all-wheel-drive form, the 9-speed automatic transmission nets fuel economy that's better by one mpg in the city and puts fuel economy near the top for the six vehicles in this comparison test.
When it comes to resale value, the Honda Pilot continues to impress. Credit Honda's reputation for vehicles that are built to last, which is backed up by the Pilot's reliability and quality. Second only to the Toyota Highlander in this test for 36- and 60-month predicted resale values, the Pilot retains a high percentage of its value over time. That makes the Pilot a smart buy at the dealership, will cost you less to own over time and will likely result in a high resale value when it’s time to sell.
Inside and Out: 2017 Honda Pilot
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