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The Honda Pilot is arguably the best SUV on the market, balancing value, features, and performance. The Pilot has three rows of seats and both the second and third rows can split 60/40 to be folded flat. This configuration results in an impressive 86.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is about 30% more than the Subaru Forester. The Honda Pilot SUV can tow about two tons, and has excellent traction for snow-covered roads or light off-roading.

The Pilot is ranked #1 in several categories for the Mid-Size SUV class on Autos.com, placing it ahead of the Volkswagen Touareg, Nissan Murano, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee, among others. These categories include Reviews, Resale Value, Passenger Space, and Safety.

See also the main fact sheets for the Honda Pilot.

High Points

  • Good safety ratings
  • Good resale value
  • Plenty of cargo space when 3rd row is folded down
  • 8-passenger seating
  • Reduced cabin noise

Low Points

  • In high demand, which means limited availability
  • Certain options are mutually exclusive
  • Seat bottoms are short
  • Not as powerful as some of its competitors
  • No optional V8(see above)
  • 3rd row seating stifling for larger passengers
  • Awkward stereo controls
  • Lack of low-range gears
  • Poor handling

Performance and Handling

2006 Pilot onroad.jpg

The 4WD model of the Honda Pilot is equipped with a 3.5L 244hp V6 VTEC engine. Its 240 lb.-ft. of torque allow it to tow 4,500 lbs, not superb for its class, but not too shabby either. The 4WD itself is automatic, designed to kick in when road conditions demand it.

The 2WD version of the Pilot makes use of the same engine as the 4WD model, but with an i-VTEC enhancement, which adds Variable Cylinder Management. What this does is enable three of the engine's six cylinders to be deactivated when their power is not absolutely necessary (such as when cruising), thereby cutting back on fuel consumption and decreasing overall emissions.

Gas Mileage

FuelEconomy.gov lists the gas mileage of 2WD Pilot models at 18/24 MPG and that of the 4WD models at 17/22 MPG.

According to Autos.com, this is enough to rank the Pilot 5th in gas mileage out of 23 vehicles in the Mid-Size SUV category.

Safety

The Pilot performed very well in each of the NHTSA's safety tests. In both Frontal and Side Impact crash tests, it received 5/5 stars, and testing for Rollover earned it a 4/5 star rating.

Several safety features can be found standard on all models. Some of these include electronic stability control, front and rear anti-roll bars, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, and front and side impact airbags.

Reliability and Maintenance

  • The Pilot has average reliability, but not-so-good maintenance costs.

Interior and Comforts

2006 Pilot Interior.jpg

As it was based on the same platform as that of the Honda Odyssey, the interior of the Pilot should prove to be surprisingly comfortable. Reviewers remark on its feeling very much like an Acura, Honda's upscale marque, with its seating and instrument panels built from sturdy, quality materials. In addition, features like the optional heated seats, steering wheel touch controls, and DVD navigation package, which also equips the Pilot with an on-screen rear view camera display, add a touch of luxury to the ride. This last feature, however, is also a bit of a drawback, as prospective buyers must choose between either the DVD navigation package or the seatback DVD entertainment package; they are not available together.

The Pilot is also surprisingly roomy inside, despite its modest but convenient exterior size. Cargo space is plentiful, and with both the second and third row of seating folded down, total storage capacity increases to an impressive 87.6 cubic ft, with a maximum width spanning 4ft. across. The Pilot can seat 8, but the third row is small, and while it will accommodate children quite comfortably, adults may find the space to be cramped and restrictive.

Exterior

The Pilot exhibits a clean, simple finish, from its subtle, body-colored side moldings to its alloy wheels. Its front fascia and rear styling bear a striking resemblance to its brother, the Honda Ridgeline pickup, adding a rugged element to its interior sophistication.

Though there are few exterior distinctions between trims, the EX and EX-L models do come equipped with a handful of features not found on the LX, such as roof rails, fog lamps, body-colored side mirrors and door handles, and a tinted rear windshield. However, its looks still remain fairly conservative, and car shoppers may find more to be excited about once they've taken a seat inside.


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