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2016 Honda Pilot FWD

The big Honda(with Android Car Gps) clearly is aimed at folks whose motoring agendas include lots of hauling. It can tow—up to 5000 pounds with all-wheel drive, 3500 with front-drive. But more o...

The big Honda(with Android Car Gps) clearly is aimed at folks whose motoring agendas include lots of hauling. It can tow—up to 5000 pounds with all-wheel drive, 3500 with front-drive. But more often than not, the payloads entail kids. We probably don’t really need to add that even though minivans are superior in almost all aspects of family hauling, Pilot prospects would rather donate their kids to science than be seen in something with those telltale sliding side doors.

There’s irony in this vehicular phobia, since the Pilot is a close cousin of Honda’s Odyssey minivan, structurally speaking. But image rules in this realm, and image is rarely rooted in rationality. Speaking of image, there are some within our walls who prefer the blockier looks of the previous generation to the slicker styling of the new. But slick is where the entire crossover segment is headed.

Our first test of the generation-three Pilot involved an Elite model, which includes everything in the vehicle’s extensive inventory of features. This time, we’re looking at one of the less expensive versions. If you draw your budgetary line at a Pilot EX, what do you get? What do you forego? Is there a performance sacrifice? And what do you save?

Quicker Sprints

Let’s start with performance. All Pilots are propelled by the same engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 rated for 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. That displacement is familiar—the previous Pilot powerplant also was a 3.5 V-6—but the new engine essentially is the same as that used by the Acura MDX, and direct fuel injection gives it a 30-hp edge over its predecessor. This in a vehicle that’s substantially lighter, by as much as nearly 300 pounds, according to Honda. It’s also substantially quicker off the line.

At the track, this front-drive EX model clocked a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.2 seconds, a whisker behind the all-wheel-drive Elite, even though the EX weighed 254 pounds less. (Blame the powerful V-6’s eagerness to spin the front tires during aggressive launches.) But all things being equal under the hood, the EX’s advantage in power-to-weight shows up as the drag race continues: It was a second quicker to 100 mph. Not that many owners are likely to push their Pilot to triple-digit speeds. But for those so inclined, we can report that the Pilot inspires confidence as speeds climb, right up to the governor-limited 112-mph top speed.

All-wheel drive, which is standard with the Elite, adds $1800. It’s available on all trim levels. Other fancy Elite standard features that are absent in the EX trim level: LED headlights, a panoramic power sunroof, an 8.0-inch touch screen with navigation and voice recognition, heated and ventilated leather power seats, a 540-watt 10-speaker premium audio system, a Car DVD, second-row heated leather captain’s chairs, and a power rear liftgate.

Athough the steering could be quicker (3.2 turns lock-to-lock) and more informative at around-town speeds, the Pilot’s responses in emergency maneuvers are respectable by the standards for this class. Those maneuvers might not be quite as prompt in the lesser trim levels, a distinction we attribute to tires. Touring and Elite Pilots wear 245/50 tires on 20-inch wheels, whereas our EX test example was equipped with 245/60-18 tires. The setup produced a softer ride, at the expense of grip (0.75 g versus the Elite’s 0.80). Braking distances were almost identical for both vehicles and about average among three-row crossovers. This is not to say good. Let’s call it adequate.

More Dimension, More Room

As noted in our test of the Elite model, the new Pilot is bigger than its predecessor, dimensional increases that translate directly to the interior. There’s even enough room in the third row for a couple of adults to perch without too much whining, although getting three people of any size to ride back there for more than a few miles is likely to provoke civil war. (In the Elite trim level, second-row seating is a pair of captain’s chairs, reducing the potential passenger count to seven.) Nonetheless, this is a distinctly more comfortable Pilot generation, its increased roominess augmented by more soft-touch surfaces and a much more attractive dashboard layout. If installing an Android Car Stereo in your carFeature Articles, that would be great!

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