While the last two generations of the Honda Pilot(with an android car stereo) looked as if they could bust boulders with upright boxy designs, they were essentially Accord-based crossovers best suited for pavement not trails. But, that’s all in the past as the 2016 Pilot quits with the SUV pretense and flaunts its crossover cred as a sleek 3-row family hauler.
The redesigned Pilot was a hit in the day care parking lot. Several moms checked it out and declared it looked more like an Acura. They were surprised it was a Pilot but could see a family resemblance to the smaller CR-V. This should please Honda.
A wide chrome grille, sculpted hood and sharply cut wraparound taillamps add upscale precision to a more streamlined body, while chiseled body sculpting and 20-inch alloy wheels help lighten the Pilot’s substantial shadow.
There’s no illusion about the interior as it’s more minivan than SUV. The Pilot’s mission is to take six passengers from coast to coast or anywhere in between. High seats greet a wide two-tone dashboard dominated by a glassy touch screen, arching swaths of piano black trim, and an instrument cluster that puts a digital speedometer high and center. A deep console rivals a YMCA locker with large cup holders, USB inputs, 115-volt power port and a sliding rubberized cover that keeps phones, keys and wallets from sliding about. In the back, the third-row seats can actually fit two adults comfortably, unlike most of its three-row SUV competitors.
It’s a light show inside too. Pressing the starter button turns it from white to red. Drive ecologically, and green halos encircle the instruments. The Pilot’s start/stop technology helps keep fuel economy in the top five for nonhybrid SUVs of this size, netting 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway. Start/stop pauses the engine when you’re stopped at traffic lights or idling at school pickup, and Eco mode makes the throttle less sensitive. Put your foot down and the halos turn to blue “horns” as a reprimand for not controlling your big toe. Gears are selected by buttons on the console and illuminate green when selected. It was a little confusing at first but became intuitive after a couple of drives.
Also, price as tested of $47K? For a few grand more one could get a BMW X5…
Our Pilot’s Elite package, swathed in leather, came with heated/ventilated front seats, heated middle-row captain’s chairs and a heated steering wheel. Tri-zone automatic climate control kept everybody comfy. A panoramic rear roof panel kept the rear from feeling like a cave; rain sensing wipers added convenience. Fold all of the rear seats flat and you have a cavern for toting bicycles, camping gear, or your big Ikea haul.
Praise all things holy, Honda sidestepped its abysmal two-screen infotainment system and installed a simpler single 8-inch touch screen instead. To control volume and tuning you must swipe the screen instead of using simple knobs, and there are still too many layers of menus. Still, it works much better than the Odyssey’s twin-screen nightmare. Bluetooth hands-free calling, audio streaming and navigation make driving easier. Keeping the tribe happy, rear passengers tap into a Blu-ray car dvd player with wireless headsets.