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Honda Pilot, how do I love thee? Let’s count the ways

🕐 5 min read

Honda Pilot 2016

What I liked most: The interior and overall functionality

What I would change: I would prefer knobs for the radio.

MSRP: Base price $47,300, as equipped $47,300

Fuel economy: EPA rated at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined

Fuel tank: 19.5 gallons of regular fuel

Dimensions: 194 inches long, 79 inches wide, 70 inches high

Weight: 4,317 pounds

2016 Honda Pilot in a few words: A great SUV, great interior, great value

Trailer towing: 5,000-pound capacity

Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper with roadside assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles on the powertrain

Miles when tested: 3,600

Manufacturer’s website: http://automobiles.honda.com/pilot/

Finally, a Honda Pilot I can love! It has been a long time coming, but Honda has a contender in the red-hot large SUV segment. Don’t get me wrong, the last two generations of Pilot were great, quality-wise, but came up very short in the styling department. Honda designers have done an outstanding job for 2016 with the interior and exterior appearance of the Honda Pilot.

Let’s start under the hood where you’ll find the tried and true Honda 3.5 liter V6, which got a 30-horse bump for 2016 to 280 horses. It features direct-injection and cylinder displacement, meaning it runs on 3 cylinders at highway speeds. This engine falls under the Honda Earth Dreams umbrella. It also has start/stop technology, which kills the engine when you come to a stop but allows everything else to run, including the air conditioning. It is one of the best systems I have seen for smoothness, and you can turn it off.

My test Pilot has the 9-speed automatic transmission that comes in the two upper-line trim levels; everything else has a 6-speed automatic. The 9-speed shifts really well and doesn’t feel as if it is searching for the proper gear like some I have driven. You can shift it from steering wheel paddles or from the pushbuttons on the center console. This feature takes a little getting used to, but it makes the console look clean and it saves space.

The exterior of the 2016 Pilot is night and day different from the boxy 2015 and older models. The 20-inch wheels, a sharp front end with a short hood, and clean rear end with a rear spoiler make the Pilot look sporty and stylish.

Then you open the door and see a very sharp interior that is plush yet simple and offers an exceptional use of space.

This is the top-of-the-line Elite package, and it has the all-wheel drive system that makes it drive and handle great, partly due to a torque vectoring system that shifts power around from front to back and side to side.

The dash layout is logical and clean. The gauge outline is lit by white lights that turn green when you are conserving fuel. In the center of the dash is an 8-inch touchscreen interface for the entertainment and audio systems. It comes with Bluetooth and Pandora and real-time traffic. I would prefer knobs for volume and channel surfing, but it has none. The system is a little slow to react and is a little distracting. Luckily, everything can be done on the heated steering wheel.

I love the center console, which features a rolling door and when closed makes a great place to set things.

The Pilot has a huge number of cubbyholes and lots of cup holders. As you look up, you find a power moon roof for the front passengers, then a large panoramic glass roof with a power cover for back seat occupants. Second-row passengers can raise rear window shades to keep the interior cooler.

Moving to the second-row seats, the Elite features captain chairs with a center console that offers good room. A button on the side of the seat folds the seat down for entrance to the third row, and a grab assist helps people get into the third-row seats. Third-row seating is also roomy enough for two adults or three children to ride comfortably due to the additional 3 1/2 inches of length on the 2016 Pilot.

Moving to the rear, you get a power liftgate that will work from the remote or with the touch of a button. Straps attached to the third-row seats make it really easy to lower and raise the 60/40 third-row seats. The second-row seats will lie down also, making the entire rear area very flat.

Other notable standard features include a Blu-ray DVD player with headphones, rearview camera, parking sensors, pushbutton start and remote start, dual heated and cooled front power seats, heated second-row seats and adaptive cruise control.

The Pilot is also full of safety features including emergency braking system, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring.

The 2016 Pilot drives and handles great and is super quiet inside. It is roomy and for its size is fuel-efficient at 19 miles per gallon in town and 26 mpg on the highway, which is especially good considering its size and the fact that it is all-wheel drive. It is rated to tow 5,000 pounds and it runs on regular fuel.

This model falls in line price-wise with two competitors that I love, the Ford Explorer and the Toyota Highlander.

This one has an MSRP of $47,300 but again I emphasize the level of standard equipment. I can’t think of a single thing that this one doesn’t have.

If you are in the market for a large SUV with a lot of interior room and want exceptional quality, this third-generation Honda Pilot has got to be on your consideration list.

Jerry Reynolds is the nationally syndicated automotive talk show host of the Car Pro Show, heard coast-to-coast and locally Saturdays on News/Talk 820 AM and 99.5 HD2 FM WBAP, as well as KRLD 1080 AM. Reynolds is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association and is the automotive expert for CBS 11 TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. www.carprousa.com/

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