By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
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 Dick on Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good gas mileage."
Cons: "Fit not up to stds. Braking on downhill! Aye!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Nice ride. Navigation not easy to operate. Voice command can't understand what you say. braking on steep downhill - front end shakes and vibrates, can't apply brakes hard."
By Tony on Sunday, March 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased a 2014 have already put 10000 mi. on it ,went to Florida and back averaged around 21 MPG,NICE RIDE AND COMFORT,since owning have averged 18.9 MPG ABOUT 50/50 DRIVING.I traded a 2013 CRV with 24000 mi. in for the pilot to get more cargo space and,comfort,and it accomplised that mission,the CRV is also a great vehicle, but not enough space for my needs.I plan on driving this pilot for a long time,it can do it all with the 3rd row seating and towing capacity and the MPG not that bad for the size of vehicle,it also does very well in the IL. snow."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Pilot-owner_in-Maryland on Friday, March 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, space, ride quality, smooth transmission!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My first Pilot was an '05 model, that I had for 7 years and 100K miles. Now I have a new 2014 EX 4WD that I love already. It's more hi-tech than my first Pilot, with a Bluetooth hands-free link and USB/MP3 ports. It's got the same strong, smooth engine and transmission as my first Pilot. Same spacious interior and cargo area. Same wonderful, smooth ride. A significantly quieter interior that blocks out almost all road noise. An even more beautiful exterior, that is unlike most other modern SUVs that have an ugly, glorified station wagon look. The same solid, very tough build. I love everything about this Pilot and if I were Honda, would not change a thing. It's a terrific vehicle!!!!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By oshidashi on Monday, March 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfy, roomy, fun, versatile, pretty, practical"
Cons: "Nothing yet"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had this SUV for 6 months of touring western US. Ran great in desert, beachside, and in mountains. Incredible space, and comfort for family of 7: 5 adults + 2 kids. We all fit and were very comfortable and all our "stuff" for a week in Yellowstone fit. Lots of nice extras like plenty of cup holders, lights for each row, hidden storage spaces, electric outlets, ... Ran great, got 18 mpg fully loaded, 4WD got us easily through some snow issues and mountain passes. Now setting it to tow a travel trailer - can tow a max of 4,,,,500 lbs. with its 4WD. Looks great, super visibility for driver, great stereo- played our iPods and we could adjust it play to only in front, all over, or only back. Same with AC and heater - each section of car could adjust to their needs. An A+++ ranking from our family. Mahalo Honda!"
11 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Al on Thursday, March 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good solid workhorse"
Cons: "Road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"It is good and solid, with a comfortable ride and plenty of pep. The only negative I can think of is the very annoying, excessive road noise."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Ken on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Very disappointing gas mileage, both city and hwy. 18-19/22-23 Computer system is difficult to use and looks like a last minute add on. Nav. system is very difficult to operate and not up to date. Need touch system Back floor is slanted to the rear so that items slide out. Oil change at 3750 is very outdated. Most new cars are between 5000 and 7500. Downshift to 3rd gear is outdated. Most new cars downshift with touch of the brake. Sound system is adequate but not premium. Transmission should be a six speed. Comments are on a 2013 Honda Pilot Touring with all available options."
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful