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#18

in Affordable Midsize SUVs

MSRP: $29,670 - $41,420
Invoice: $27,137 - $37,854
MPG: 18 City / 25 Hwy
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Honda Pilot Performance

Reviewers say the 2014 Honda Pilot offers a comfortable and stable ride, and some say it handles well for an SUV, while others wish it was more agile through turns. Test drivers say the Pilot's engine is smooth, and while not especially powerful for the class, is strong enough to get the Pilot moving with little strain. The Pilot has a good fuel economy rating for the class. Reviewers say its five-speed automatic transmission isn't as polished as rivals' six-speed units.

  • "The 2014 Honda Pilot's driving characteristics are not what you might expect from its upright and somewhat squared-off look but, from behind the wheel, it feels very much like a good-handling sedan, and not a particularly big one, at that." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Though its handling is best described as laid-back, the Pilot does score points for segment-best V6 fuel efficiency of 18/25 mpg for the FWD model and 17/24 mpg when equipped with AWD." -- Left Lane News
  • "From a dynamic standpoint, as my colleagues already have explained, the Pilot is not nearly as satisfying as many other mid-size family crossover vehicles, such as the Mazda CX-9, the new Ford Flex, the Dodge Durango, and the General Motors troika of Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "Even with a V-6 engine, the driving experience was just OK. There wasn't anything thrilling about it; the Pilot handled and drove capably." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 250 horsepower, which is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

Reviewers note that the Pilot has one of the lower horsepower ratings in the class, but say it doesn't necessarily feel slow compared to its rivals, remarking that it has sufficient power for day-to-day driving and merging onto the highway. Many more recently-redesigned rivals have at least one more gear in their transmissions. Some reviewers say that the Pilot’s five-speed transmission isn't as good as rivals' transmissions and occasionally has trouble finding the right gear, while others don't see it as a problem and note that despite being down on gears, the Pilot returns good fuel economy.

  • "The 3.5-liter produces 250 horsepower along with 253 lb-ft of torque and pairs with an outdated five-speed automatic transmission." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 250-horsepower V6 is willing but certainly not the most powerful in the group, yet delivers more than ample performance for daily driving or merging with freeway traffic." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Pilot has one of the lowest horsepower ratings in the midsize-SUV class, but the engine is incredibly smooth. Its linear throttle makes this somewhat large, heavy vehicle seem faster than it probably is. In an era of 6- and even 8-speed automatic transmissions, Pilot's 5-speed unit feels dated by comparison. It generally works OK, but more than once it gets caught hunting for the right gear." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The automatic is only a five-speed -- most competitors have one more gear to play with. Despite that handicap, Honda engineers are able to extract surprisingly good fuel economy out of the Pilot: EPA ratings of 18/25 mpg (FWD) and 17/24 mpg (AWD) are near the top of the class, although they can't approach the new Nissan Pathfinder, with its continuously variable transmission." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "Performance from the Pilot's V6 is sluggish and the five-speed automatic transmission is definitely a step behind just about everybody." -- Edmunds (2013)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available on the 2014 Honda Pilot. Reviewers say the Pilot has a comfortable, smooth ride, which families should appreciate. Most test drivers say that while the Pilot has responsive steering and steady handling through turns, it loses points with a few who say that the Pilot could be more nimble. Reviewers also note that the steering offers little feedback, and that nosedive is noticeable under heavy braking.

  • "The ride quality is adequate, handling is responsive, braking is crisp and the 4-wheel-drive system is capable." -- AutoTrader
  • "It starts with unit construction, a fully independent suspension and responsive rack-and-pinion steering, and the result is a smooth and comfortable ride, excellent directional stability on the highway and precise, predictable handling in the curves." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's still car-like, and we appreciate the tidy turning radius when negotiating tight spaces. The tires' tall sidewalls are a boon to ride quality, but handling does suffer a bit because they cause the steering to feel slightly lazy. … The brakes have good pedal feel, but simulated panic stops result in quite a bit of nosedive." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Its heft makes performing any tight, low-speed turns a chore. It's also totally lifeless, so it takes some practice to aim this SUV where you want it to go." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
Review Last Updated: 5/15/14

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