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2016 Honda Pilot Test Drive

Reasons you’ll love the 2016 Honda Pilot…

By checking off the needs of nearly every American family, the 2016 Honda Pilot is a large SUV with an even larger appeal. With an all new approach to the flagship SUV, the improved styling, technology and features of the 2016 Honda Pilot are sure to draw in buyers for closer consideration. The 2016 Honda Pilot is an ideal addition to any family’s driveway with the seating, cargo capacity and technology to have buyers longing for nothing else. We spent a week with the 2016 Honda Pilot Elite, the range-topping trim, which afforded driver and occupants everything asked for over the course of our test drive for this review.

Pros: Improved styling, large amount of tech, powerful engine, seating for 7-8 in comfort

Cons: Blends in with the crowd in today’s market

Honda Pilot AutoNation Inventory

Exterior

The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot features a dramatic new styling at every turn. Gone are the days of the boxy, angular appearance of the outgoing 2015 model, which polarized buyers with its clunky fashion sense. While the outgoing Pilot might have at least looked distinct, the new design blends in more with the crowd.

Up front we see the familiar face of Honda with swept back headlights and overarching chrome accents. The LED day time running lights wrap around the chrome brightwork in an interesting fashion and the piercing LED headlamps are both attractive and highly functional. The lower valence is a dark grey plastic and was flanked by two fog lights on our tester. The face of the new Pilot is a substantial veer off course from the old Pilot, which was not nearly as swept back and modern, although it did more closely align with the style of all Honds cars, vans and SUVs.

The side profile shows off the more dramatic contrast with the plastic front and rear fascias connected by the plastic wheel arches and rocker. The windows along the side of the car have a slight up-kink at the rear quarter glass, which mimics the angles of the rear window edges.

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Around the rear of the vehicle we find an angular rear glass embedded in a wide and cavernous rear hatch. Here, the larger the rear hatch opening the better to accommodate wide loads as opposed to having to get super creative with loading and unloading cargo. The rear tail lights are LED and have an Acura-esque appearance to them, which brings the Pilot more upscale.

Our Pilot Elite tester was equipped with 20-inch split-spoke wheels riding on Continental tires. These attractive wheels are found on the Elite and Touting trims, while LX, EX and EX-L have the 18-inch wheels as standard rolling stock.

Interior

If we had to pick an element of the new Honda Pilot that is most improved, it would have to be the interior. Our leather equipped Elite was extremely comfortable and had all of the sound insulation tricks deployed to keep noise and vibration out of the cabin. Hopping into one of the leather thrones, we immediately appreciated the 10-way adjustability (4-way for passenger) and 2-position seat memory that came standard on our tester. Beyond the adjustments, the Elite front seats are both heated and cooled to keep occupants at a comfortable temperature wherever your Pilot may reside.

On our Elite tester, the second row consisted of two leather captain’s chairs, which differs from other 3-row SUVs on the market. Between the two second row seats is a consulate area for storage with cup holders and, forward of that, the climate and infotainment controls and inputs. The second row seats are heated and also feature a convenient one-touch button to access the rear seating area. The third row bench folds down 60/40 easily via rear cargo area straps. The Honda Pilot LX, EX, EX-L and Touring offer an impressive 8-seat capacity, while our Touring tester offered up seating for seven.

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With all seats up the cargo area offers up a decent amount of space. With 18 cubic feet available, you can throw parcels or luggage back there, but drop the third row down and you’re staring at a cavernous 55 cubic feet. For those large loads, drop all of the seats and the total cargo volume rockets to 109.2 cubic feet (108.5 in the Elite). Suffice to say, if hauling gear with or without multiple passengers, the 2016 Honda Pilot has it all covered.

Up front, we find a revised single infotainment display. The 8-inch color touchscreen (5-inch on base LX) in our Pilot Elite was intuitive to use, as it features smartphone-like touch and pinch technology. We would like to see a volume knob, since the touchscreen was not as responsive as we’d like and hard to reach for front seat passengers. We linked up our Bluetooth connection for phone calls and streaming audio, and all EX and above trims receive Pandora and SiriusXM satellite radio with the addition of HD Radio in the Elite. The HondaLink system is quick and responsive, with the LCD relaying many vitals, including crisp rear camera multi-view.

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Our Elite tester came with the all the A/V toys one could ever want. All of the aforementioned equipment was complimented by a rear seat entertainment system with an 8-inch flip down LCD panorama screen. The disc player reads CDs, DVDs and even HD Blu-ray, in addition to the second row having an HDMI input for today’s modern devices. All audio pumps through an impressive 540-watt system pushing through 10 speakers with a subwoofer for bass. A variety of USB ports are in the front and second rows with audio interface and/or charging capabilities along with the standard auxiliary audio jack. Basically all occupants in any seat will never complain about boredom inside the Pilot.

Performance

Under the sculpted hood is an excellent Honda engine. The 3.5-liter V6 24-valve iVTEC engine produces 280 eager horsepower with 262 lb-ft of torque. With enough power to haul around people and their cargo, the Pilot Elite still returns 19 MPG city with 26 MPG highway. It is important to note that the Elite and Touring both come with an innovative 9-speed automatic transmission and idle-stop technology, which boosts their fuel economy. The electronic push-button activated shifter is smooth and accurate, allowing drivers to take control with paddle shifters attached to the wheel. The LX, EX and EX-L receive a 6-speed automatic transmission and return similar fuel economy numbers with slight variations.

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We found the ride to be comfortable and taut around town and on the highway; however, we did note that the rear suspension could be softer, and believe it might be designed in a way to accommodate more cargo and become more supple when fully laden. The handling characteristics are of course trademark Honda. Even considering this is a large SUV, our AWD tester felt quite stable around corners and off ramps. The electronically-assisted steering is predictable and well weighted for any driver at the helm.

The brakes are sure and confident, enabling any driver to scrub off speed in a hurry. The 20-inch Continental tires are a nice match for the Pilot considering it handles well, brakes with ease and doesn’t transmit lots of road noise or imperfections.

Safety

The 2016 Honda Pilot, as with any Honda, has a lot of attention focused on safety. All trims receive safety gear such as Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, as well as a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Daytime Running Lights and, yes, even a rearview multi-angle camera. The EX and EX-L are available with a Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure System, Forward Collision Warning system and Lane Departure Warning system. These items are all standard on the upper-end Touring and our Elite Pilots.

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Price

Offered in a variety of trims, there truly is a 2016 Honda Pilot for everyone. Starting with the base Honda Pilot LX, the vehicle is available in 2WD for only $29,995 (MSRP) or with available AWD for $31,795 (MSRP). Bumping up the amount of standard options is the EX trim starting at $32,430 (MSRP) with 2WD, available AWD or the AWD with Honda Sensing safety technology. The same sub-trims apply to the next trim up, which is the Honda Pilot EX-L. The EX-L starts at $35,905 (MSRP) featuring standard leather trimmed interior, power and heated front seats, and a power tailgate. The EX-L also comes in either 2WD, AWD or AWD with Honda Sensing, topping out at $36,905 (MSRP). The next level up is the Honda Pilot Touring, a trim that has nearly everything as standard equipment, but is still available in either 2WD ($41,020) or AWD ($42, 820). The Touring can be optioned out nearly as high as the range topping trim, the $46,420 (MSRP) Honda Pilot Elite, which includes AWD and every available option under the sun.

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Overall

With so many trim options and features there is surely a Honda Pilot that can fit every need. Although running the same chassis and engine, the differences between the base LX and top-line Elite make it almost a completely different vehicle. Honda has pre-packed many of the available equipment into a load of logical trims, but after a week with our tester, we have to say the 2016 Honda Pilot Elite left us desiring nothing more in an SUV. Honda has certainly nailed it with their all-new Pilot providing plenty of tech and innovations in an attractive and contemporary package.

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