Great Packaging and a New Nine-Speed Auto
We Like: The performance improvement, new safety tech, handsome cabin.
We Don’t Like: The raucous V-6 under WOT, minivan feel, 9A at slow speeds.
The original Pilot was typical Honda—an outstanding all-around product wrapped in a conservative design. Gen 2 got more daring, what with a boxy shell, a bulldog nose, and improved off-road capabilities. Both sold like hotcakes. Now comes the third-gen, an all-new iteration based on the Acura MDX, which ups the ante with a 3.5-liter, direct-injection V-6, an available nine-speed automatic, the Honda Sensing suite of active safety tech (the Pilot scores a TSP+ rating from IIHS), and an Intelligent Traction Management System offering three modes. Better yet, curb weight is down by nearly 300 pounds. Talk about taking a load off.
Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com as the 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Learn about other SUV of the Year contenders and finalists at the links below. Check out the SUV of the Year evaluation process HERE, and discover how our Of The Year awards have evolved HERE.
Our top-line Elite tester, weighing 4,280 pounds—some 246 pounds south of the last 4WD EX-L we had in—scooted from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, a full 1.5 seconds quicker than that old EX-L. Lateral acceleration is up from 0.78 to 0.83 g, with this Pilot feeling sportier than ever, especially in S mode on-road and in Mud & Sand off-road. Fuel economy, too, is better, gaining 2 mpg on the combined cycle (now up to 22). Inside, the Elite was just that, offering a rich mix of leather and fine plastics, more connection ports and inputs than a Radio Shack, and a three-row setup with a one-touch fold-and-slide feature for the second row. Per Jason Cammisa, “Great visibility in all directions, tremendous usability in the back, and feels easily $20K more expensive than the Explorer. Love the gauges. They’re simple but effective.”
Nitpicks? Above 5,000 rpm, the V-6 is a screamer. With up to six kids crying in back, another wailer up front is not welcome. The nine-speed was adept at shifting quickly at WOT yet proved slow to react when asked for an immediate downshift. Road test editor Chris Walton noted the Honda “carries its weight very low but feels big in the little lanes, and the lateral support in the driver’s seat is lacking,” all of which reminded us of the vehicle many Pilot buyers will be escaping: the minivan.
|2016 Honda Pilot Elite|
|Price As Tested||$47,300|
|Vehicle Layout||Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|Engine||3.5L/280-hp/262-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6|
|Length x Width x Height||194.5 x 78.6 x 69.8|
|Curb Weight (F/R Dist)||4,280 lb (56/44%)|
|Acceleration, 0-60 mph||6.5 sec|
|Quarter Mile||15.1 sec @ 91.2 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||128 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.83 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||27.8 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||19/26/22 mpg|
|Energy Consumption, City/Hwy||177/130 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 Emissions||0.90 lb/mile|
2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contenders:
- BMW X6
- Chevrolet Trax
- Fiat 500X
- Ford Edge
- Ford Explorer
- Honda HR-V
- Hyundai Tucson
- Jeep Renegade
- Kia Sorento
- Land Rover Discovery Sport
- Mazda CX-3