Honda’s current lineup might be its broadest ever, but the brand’s ace in the hole is its family-friendly trio of American-made vehicles: the Ridgeline pickup, Odyssey minivan and Pilot crossover. Each model offers an innovate solution in its respective market, but it’s the Pilot that is tasked with competing in the ultra-competitive three-row CUV segment that includes the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Mazda CX-9
The third-gen Pilot debuted for the 2016 model year, and with the exception of minor packaging changes on lower trim levels, it carries over untouched for 2017. Even the base Pilot is a well-equipped offering, but to get the most of this crossover, the 2017 Honda Pilot Elite packs all the goodies into one fully loaded, luxurious mid-size crossover.
2017 Honda Pilot Exterior
When the new Pilot launched last year, it was sad to see the boxy, SUV-like styling go, but the sleeker body does give this people mover a more modern appearance that ties in well with other Honda products. The stylish three-bar grille and the Elite’s standard LED headlights make the Pilot instantly recognizable from other CUVs in this segment, and although the Pilot and Ridgeline share similar front-end designs, the Pilot has a smoother look with less exposed plastic. At the rear, horizontal LED taillights and hidden exhaust outlets round out the Pilot’s clean lines.
People often compare three-row crossovers to minivans, and it isn’t hard to see why when you view the 2017 Honda Pilot in profile. The long, flat roof line and mostly upright D-pillars are almost identical to what you’ll find on modern minivan, but Honda beefed up the Pilot’s design with sharp body creases along the side of the body and split-spoke 20-inch wheels. Not to mention the 7.3 inches of ground clearance that give the Pilot an unmistakably SUV-like stance.
2017 Honda Pilot Interior
With perforated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, standard Blu-Ray rear seat entertainment system, an eight inch touch screen display with navigation, and a 10-speaker, 540-watt audio system, the 2017 Honda Pilot Elite has an interior fit for an Acura, . The driver and front passenger benefit from heated and cooled front seats, but rear occupants definitely have it better with standard second row heated captain’s chairs and a two-panel panoramic sunroof. The Elite trim level– along with the Touring– also gets acoustic glass on the windshield and front doors, resulting in a quiet cabin even at highway speeds.
The seven-passenger seating is spacious with plenty of room for all three rows, and the three-zone automatic climate control helps reduce bickering over temperature settings. For third-row occupants, getting out no longer involves waiting for the middle passengers to assist, as there’s a green button on both outboard seats that automatically tilts and slides, making ingress and egress simple. When cargo space is more important, the rear rows easily fold flat providing 82.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity on this trim level, and there’s also a sizable storage compartment hidden under the load floor behind the third row.
2017 Honda Pilot Powertrain
All 2017 Honda Pilot crossovers are powered by the same 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 that produces 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, but the higher trim levels mate this engine to an advanced nine-speed automatic transmission. The Elite comes standard with all-wheel drive and start-stop technology, which results in EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway**. My week with the Pilot saw an average of close to 22 mpg in a mix of highway and city and driving, and the 19.5-gallon gas tank means there’s plenty of range for a family road trip.
Of course, the whole point of buying a three-row crossover is getting a spacious SUV-sized family hauler that rides and drives like a car, and that’s exactly what the 2017 Honda Pilot delivers. After all, it isn’t a coincidence that the Pilot is almost always the most common vehicle spotted in a school pickup lane (along with the Odyssey). But to show its merit when it comes to utility, the Pilot Elite trim level has the max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. On the road, this 4,317-pound has surprisingly agile, which you don’t always get in a vehicle with such a commanding view.
2017 Honda Pilot Safety
The 2017 Honda Pilot Elite comes loaded with a host of safety features including a Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto High-Beam Headlights, Road Departure Mitigation, Collision Mitigation and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Monitor. As such, the 2017 Pilot comes with a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
2017 Honda Pilot Overall
There’s a reason why crossovers are so popular these days, and the 2017 Honda Pilot shows why with a smooth, car-like ride and a spacious interior that will keep a whole family busy and comfortable during a long road trip. Kids don’t know how good they have it these days.
The 2017 Pilot is Honda’s highest-priced model with a starting price of $30,745*, and opting for the fully loaded Elite trim level starts at $47,220*. Adding only a destination charge, this 2017 Honda Pilot Elite had an as-tested price of $48,195. The Elite comes so fully loaded that there is but one factory option – blacked-out wheels for about $2,000.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Honda dealership and test drive the 2017 Honda Pilot today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.