Honda Pilot

#3 in Midsize SUVs Overall Score: 8.7 / 10
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2016 Honda Pilot Overview

The 2016 Honda Pilot ranks 3 out of 18 Midsize SUVs.

The Honda Pilot is fully redesigned for 2016. Its quiet ride, comfortable seats, and upscale cabin make it one of the best 3-row SUVs on the market, based on the professional reviews and data that ...

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Pros & Cons

  • Quiet, upscale cabin
  • Spacious third row
  • Frustrating audio controls

Notable for 2016

  • Fully redesigned

Honda Pilot Rankings and Research

The 2016 Honda Pilot ranking is based on its score within the Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Honda Pilot has a score of 8.7 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 21 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.7
Critics' Rating: 9.4
Performance: 8.4
Interior: 8.4
Safety: 9.3
Reliability: 3_0


2016 Honda Pilot Pictures

2016 Honda Pilot Review

By Carter Macleod May 27, 2016

The Honda Pilot is fully redesigned for 2016. Its quiet ride, comfortable seats, and upscale cabin make it one of the best 3-row SUVs on the market, based on the professional reviews and data that drive our rankings.

With a starting price around $31,000, the Honda Pilot is slightly more expensive than the average midsize SUV. However, its standard features list includes a V6 engine and a rearview camera, items that aren't standard in some competitors. A fully loaded Pilot will run you $46,000. The full suite of options included in the fully loaded version make the Pilot competitive with the luxury SUVs in that price range.

With the best combination of positive reviews and long-term ownership costs in its class, the Honda Pilot is our 2016 Best 3-Row SUV for the Money. The Pilot, however, isn’t just a great value. It’s also our Best 3-Row SUV for Families because it has the leading combination of interior space, available family-friendly features, and safety and reliability ratings in its class.

Pilot Interior

Room for the Whole Family

You expect a 3-row midsize SUV to offer good passenger space for a family, and the Honda Pilot delivers. The soft front seats are among the most comfortable in the class. The second row can slide backward, so your passengers can enjoy serious stretch-out space.

However, the big news is in the third row. While most SUVs offer a compact third row that's meant for small children, the Pilot's third row has enough head- and legroom for adults. The seat is mounted low, so tall people will ride with their knees up. In other words, they probably won't want to be back there on a long trip. However, for short jaunts around town your passengers will be a lot more comfortable than they'd be in the third row of most of the Pilot's rivals.

At 83.9 cubic feet, maximum cargo space is about average for a midsize 3-row SUV. The Toyota Highlander has almost identical cargo space, and the Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Pathfinder only have a few cubic feet less. You can easily run your kid’s and their teammates’ sports gear from game to game. Even with all three rows in use, cargo space is plentiful. If you need more space, consider the Chevrolet Traverse, which has a whopping 116.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Even with all three rows in use, the Pilot’s 16 cubic feet of storage space can handle a large grocery run or a weekend's worth of luggage.

The Pilot isn't just useful for stowing lots of cargo, however. The cabin has many places to stash smaller items as well. There are many more cup holders than there are seats. There's hidden storage under the floor, so you can keep your valuables out of sight while you're parked. The console between the driver and front passenger has a bin in it that's large enough for a purse or book. All of that is in addition to the various hooks, pockets, and cubbies that you expect to find in a modern family vehicle.

Quiet and Luxurious

Space isn't the only reason you'll like the Honda Pilot's interior. Solid construction and excellent noise insulation give it a quiet ride on the highway, so you'll be able to easily carry on conversations with your passengers.

The Pilot has upscale materials as well. Many reviews of the Pilot note that its interior materials wouldn't be out of place in a vehicle from Honda's luxury brand, Acura. Most surfaces are padded, and everything is tightly fitted together. The whole interior has an upscale look that you'll be proud to show off to your friends and family members.

Frustrating Audio Controls

There are some downsides to the Pilot's sleek look. On upper trims, the Pilot's audio system is controlled by touch-sensitive controls that look cool but lack the functionality of traditional buttons and knobs. To turn up the volume, you have to place your finger on a flat panel next to the touch screen and slide it upward. The base LX trim has a regular volume knob that's easier to use.

Other aspects of the audio system in upper-trim Pilots are more user-friendly. The available touch screen, for instance, has simple menus, so it's easy to change settings for Bluetooth and other features. On touch screens equipped with navigation, you can pinch or spread your fingers to zoom in and out of the map, just like you can on an iPad.

Options, Trims, and Prices

The base 2016 Honda Pilot LX costs a little over $31,000. Most of the Pilot's rivals, including the Nissan Pathfinder and Hyundai Santa Fe, start at under $30,000. However, the Pilot does come standard with a V6 engine, whereas some rivals, like the Kia Sorento and Toyota Highlander, come standard with much less powerful four-cylinders. In fact, you have to pay over $32,000 to get a Highlander with a V6.

Besides the V6, standard features in the Pilot are what you'd expect in this price range, including a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and a USB port for plugging in your smartphone.

A fully loaded Pilot Elite will run you about $46,000, and it includes features like all-wheel drive, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and a full suite of advanced safety technology, which we'll detail in the next section. At $46,000, the Pilot Elite is rubbing elbows with luxury SUVs like an entry-level Infiniti QX60, Volvo XC90, or Acura MDX. The Pilot may not have the elite status of those luxury vehicles, but it can match their build quality and offers more features for the money.

Read more about interior »

Pilot Safety and Reliability

The 2016 Honda Pilot has one of the most complete collections of safety technologies in its class. It is available with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic pre-collision braking, so it can steer you back into your lane if you start to drift, maintain a set following distance behind the car in front of you, and automatically brake if you're about to hit someone. Major rivals like the Kia Sorento and Nissan Pathfinder don't have lane keep assist or automatic pre-collision braking. The Pilot also comes with Honda's LaneWatch system, a camera that monitors your passenger-side blind spot and shows an image of it on your touch screen.

The Pilot's crash test scores are about average for the class. It earned top scores in every crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but its front crash test score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was a very good, but not perfect, four out of five – though it still earned a Five-Star Overall rating.

Hondas have long had a reputation for great reliability, but the 2016 Pilot's predicted reliability rating is average, according to the J.D. Power Predicted Reliability rating. It has a slightly lower rating than most of its main midsize rivals, including the Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento.

Read more about safety »

Pilot Performance

Quiet, Comfy, and Composed

The 2016 Honda Pilot excels in the areas that most SUV shoppers care about. It has a comfortable ride, even on rough pavement, and it is quiet at highway speeds. Yet the Pilot won't disappoint in a corner either. It feels composed for a 3-row SUV thanks to its solid build quality and responsive steering. That means that you can take a high speed exit ramp or a windy bit of rural road and not feel like the Pilot is difficult to control. Some of the Pilot's larger, more trucklike rivals aren't quite as nimble.

Ample Power/Good Fuel Economy

The Pilot's 280-horsepower V6 engine also makes it pleasant to drive. It provides ample passing power on the highway and makes the big SUV feel fairly lively around town. The Pilot's standard six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The optional nine-speed makes it feel a bit faster when you're accelerating from a stop, though it sometimes takes longer than the six-speed to downshift, which can make highway passing maneuvers feel sluggish.

Fuel economy in a base Pilot is 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, which is good for the class. All-wheel drive reduces that slightly to 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. That's still better than the fuel economy of most rivals, including the V6 Toyota Highlander and Kia Sorento.

Read more about performance »

Other SUVs to Consider

The Toyota Highlander is another top pick among midsize 3-row SUVs. It has family-friendly features, such as Driver Easy Speak, which lets parents speak to rear-seat passengers through the vehicle's back speakers. Every Highlander trim has easy-to-use dashboard controls, including knobs for volume and radio tuning, which the Honda Pilot doesn't have in upper trims. The Pilot and the Highlander have similar cargo space, and the Highlander rides comfortably and quietly over rough roads. Passing power is lackluster with the Highlander's base four-cylinder engine, but its optional V6 is strong. Finally, predicted reliability is higher in the Highlander than in the Pilot, making the Highlander a great choice if you want to keep your repair bills to a minimum.

Looking for more cargo space than the Pilot offers but don't want to break the bank? The Chevy Traverse costs about the same as the Honda Pilot, and it has almost 40 percent more cargo space. It doesn't handle like a much larger vehicle, however. The Traverse offers fairly responsive handling for its size, as well as a smooth, quiet ride. The Traverse's cabin is handsome and has a premium feel thanks to high-quality materials. Passenger space is good in the first and second rows. Thanks to its large cabin, the Traverse's third row offers even more legroom than the Pilot's.

Compare the Pilot, Highlander, and Traverse in more detail »

Details: 2016 Honda Pilot

The 2016 Honda Pilot is a 3-row midsize SUV. It is available in five trims: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite. The Pilot comes standard with seating for eight (two in the front row and three in both the second and third rows). In top-of-the-line Elite models, the three-person second-row bench seat is replaced with two captain's chairs, reducing the seating capacity to seven. The Honda Pilot has been completely redesigned for 2016.

Standard features include a V6 engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, seating for eight, push-button start, a seven-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a rearview camera.

Optional features include all-wheel drive, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, a power liftgate, automatic pre-collision braking, lane keep assist, Honda's LaneWatch passenger-side blind spot camera, adaptive cruise control, a power sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat video screens, HD Radio, satellite radio, a 10-speaker audio system, and an 8-inch touch screen.

See 2016 Honda Pilot specs and trims »

  • "From so-so to standout, the 2016 Honda Pilot is suddenly one of the best three-row crossovers you can buy. Combining the rarity of a usable third row with luxury-levels of quiet and comfort, the Pilot is a win-win for the entire family." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 2016 Honda Pilot has climbed to the top of the three-row SUV class, delivering all the room, comfort, safety features and versatility that make the potholed roads of parenting just a tiny bit smoother." --
  • "It's more streamlined in appearance, more carlike to drive and plusher inside, while the features list swells with the latest technology, safety and luxury equipment. After our first lengthy test-drive, it feels like a class leader." -- Edmunds

Research Prices: 2016 Honda Pilot

Over 75,000 car shoppers have purchased a car through the U.S. News Best Price Program. Our pricing beats the national average 86% of the time with shoppers receiving average savings of $3,279 off MSRP across vehicles. See what others paid for the Honda Pilot and get upfront pricing to make sure you don't overpay. Learn More »

$30,345 - $46,770
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