The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is dramatically more stylish than last year’s more squared off and boxy design, with sexier creases and lines, more artful details, and in general a less dowdy appearance. It’s much closer to the family styling DNA we see in sedans like the Accord and Civic.
It looks larger too, because it is. The 2016 Honda Pilot is stretched 3-inches longer at 191-inches, gets a 2-inch longer wheelbase at 111, yet has an overall height that’s 1-inch lower. This contributes to its more slender appearance overall but also to better aerodynamics and therefore fuel-economy.
Our Elite AWD tester features upgraded exterior items like its painted and machine finish 20-inch wheels. Up front the Elite also gets signature LED headlamps with daytime running lights and auto-on-off functionality.
The interior as configured in ours with second row captain’s chairs seats which means two passengers up front, two in the second row, and up to three in the third for a total of seven. All other models have seating for up to eight.
The design of ours with its black leather and interior trims was clean and business like if not a bit austere in its character. With every option available it had heated and ventilated front power seats for both passenger and driver – the driver seat getting memory settings. Also part of the Elite trim grade are dual sun-roofs, with the front panel open-able.
The infotainment system itself offers full connectivity capabilities wired and via Bluetooth and offers reasonably good audio quality. It’s user interface is just somewhat frustrating to use on the go and it has a somewhat steep learning curve as it’s not that intuitive.
At least the driver interface is clear and concise with an instrument cluster easy to read. The center display information center is easy to navigate as well via controls on the steering wheel which is manually adjustable for tilt and telescope.
Folding down the third row can be done in a 60/40 split, the second row captain’s chairs fold flat as well for an entirely flat cargo area. The seats all fold down very easily with one pull or push for each. Under the rear cargo floor is a covered storage area for incidentals, or you can lower the top panel to create a deeper load well.
Overall the interior has impeccable fit and finish with the kind of material quality that I have always come to expect from Honda, the ergonomic complaints being some of the only. It earns 4 of 5 stars. When it comes to technologies, high marks are given for what does work well like the driver and crash prevention aids which allow multiple options including an off switch. Technologies therefore earn 4 of 5 stars.
What’s under the hood of the 2016 Pilot is the latest generation of Honda’s smooth and silky 3.5 liter V6 good for 280 horsepower. Now featuring standard direct-injection and cylinder deactivation technologies, it can operate on fewer cylinders to save fuel.
Because the new nine-speed transmission can behave quite different than the six-speed automatic I highly suggest you drive both of them if you are planning to buy a Pilot and make sure you get a feel for both. The nine-speed won’t bother everyone, I just tend to be a bit picky in the area of powertrain behavior.
Annoying though I find the engine auto-start-stop system, it and the nine-speed automatic transmission in the Pilot Elite are likely strong contributors to the excellent fuel-economy it achieves. The EPA rates it at 19 mpg city, 26 highway and 22 mpg combined.
I achieved 24 mpg combined with it in my week testing which is well above most competitors we have tested in the last year or so, and more than promised by the EPA. In such the powertrain earns 4 of 5 stars.
The chassis of the Pilot felt of quality overall even when the structure and trim got a bit rattled on the rougher roads. The soft nature of its tuning however does give the impression at times that it isn’t as solid as it really is, thus we rate it at 4 of 5 stars.
It is a solid structure however as in the IIHS crash testing it scored Good ratings across the board on all of their tests, even the brutal small-overap test. This combined with its available superior crash prevention systems earn it an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Honor.
The last tangible measure I take of any vehicle is quality feel. And here, I was surprised the Honda Pilot didn’t measure as high as most Hondas we test. In addition to rattles and creaks with interior trims there were some minor body panel mis-aligns I find out of character for the brand. This put overall quality feel at 4 of 5 stars.
With a price of $47,300 value is relative to its competitors which fully loaded can also cost the same or more. Given a few features are missing from here like a 360-degree view camera system, heated second row seats and other items some offer we place value score at 4 of 5 stars. This brings a total review score of 4 of 5 stars.