Honda Pilot Now Less Off-Road, More Family Car

by Hubert Mckinney / SUV

It would seem that if everyone likes the Honda Pilot for its spaciousness, then you need to do it even more! And indeed: an American SUV with a Japanese nameplate on the grille has become even more spacious and radically more comfortable. But at what cost! Brick-brutal Pilot now resembles an urban crossover CR-V stretched in all directions. What else the new 2018 Honda Pilot has?

Honda Pilot introduction

Some Radical Changes

The design of the new 2018 model year Honda Pilot, in comparison with the car of the previous generation, has changed dramatically. The release date of the car happen almost a two years earlier. The image lost its brutality and angular shape, replaced by a completely different, more fluid outlines. The car received a completely different lighting equipment (LED) and a bumper, a radiator grille in the style of CR-V of the fourth generation, re-decorated glazing and a roof line.

Interior design of the updated Pilot 2018 became more traditional and modern: the shape of the ventilation nozzles changed, a new steering wheel and instrument panel appeared, an 8-inch touchscreen display of the multimedia system on the center console, and the gearbox lever disappeared from the torpedo, giving way to the shift buttons. But the interior still has three rows of seats and can accommodate up to eight people, including the driver. True, the buyer can abandon the whole rear sofa – the manufacturer offers a modification with two separate seats. For a surcharge for rear passengers, a 9-inch screen is available.

The new SUV is based on the upgraded chassis from its predecessor, which it shares with the premium Acura MDX crossover of the third generation.

Among other things, Honda Pilot of 2018 in the new body has acquired an expanded list of standard equipment and not previously available options. For example, already in the base trim it includes heating the steering wheel, as well as the seats of the first and second rows (the front have a function of ventilation). For a surcharge, the crossover can be equipped with a panoramic roof, 20-inch wheel disks, adaptive cruise control, tracking systems for marking, warning of frontal collisions, etc.


It is striking that the Pilot has significantly changed from its previous designs: from a practical and utilitarian box on wheels, it has become, perhaps, a much sleek luxury SUV, which is somewhat slightly shocking.

Now, after a long list of changes, additions and improvements, the new generation may well take its place in the series of three-row crossovers.

It is worth noting that every year (and specifically in the past 2014-2015), all crossovers lose their maximum practicality and even become aerodynamic. The same Ford Escape or Nissan Pathfinder, although they did not become blatant remnants but some of their facets were lost, Pilot did not become an exception.Honda Pilot features

Honda conducted its marketing research of the previous generation of Pilot and found out that the main reason for refusing to purchase this crossover is just angular shapre and poor fuel economy. To be more precise, (according to the research) people who see this “box” immediately represented a crazy fuel consumption and went away. And this is even contrary to the information on the best in the class ratio of mass, characteristics and actual consumption. The second reason for the failure is the assumption that the crossover is determined for a much older generation of buyers.

Anyway, Honda designers had to take up pencils and change the look of the crossover from the very nose (or the radiator grille) to the extreme point of the rear end. The square lattices has gone, the shapes were stretched and inflated, adding to the height of 1″, to the length – another 3″, the wheelbase was stretched for another two inches.

But most importantly, what was done in Honda to save fuel – removed excess weight. To begin with, they cut off about 300 lbs of curb weight. The new V6 is not only lighter than its predecessor, but also by 30 hp more powerful and more economical due to the direct injection system, the deactivation of cylinders and the start/stop system. A few additional percent added a new 6-speed automatic, replacing the previous 5-speed. Why? Simply because the previous gearbox have roots from the distant 2001. And in the higher version of the Touring and Elite, the new 9-speed automatic is not only 66 lbs lighter, but the gear shift is 25% faster.

V6 Power

Under the hood of the Honda Pilot 3 was a petrol V6 with i-VTEC technology in displacement of 3.5 liters, the output of which is 280 hp and 261 ft lb (355 Nm) of torque. It is available as a pair with a six- or a nine-speed automatic, and the drive layout can be either AWD or front wheel drive.

Regardless of the choice of interior trim or equipment, the 3.5-liter V6 on average consumes 21-23 MPG. However, in some areas and conditions, the consumption could be reduced to 26 MPG.

At the steering wheel of the Pilot you sit a little lower than behind the wheel of Toyota Highlander (the Pilot has a clearance of 7.2″), but slightly Honda Pilot enginehigher than the Pathfinder by Nissan.

The old Pilot was scolded for noise, vibration and stiffness, so it became quite pleasant news to improve all these parameters: additional noise insulation, glass is thicker – noise does not penetrate to the interistart/stop

start/stop system and the new 9-stage automatic were fully tested: when the system is on, there is a small (up to a second), but sensed and therefore annoying, delay in starting traffic. Of course, the fuel system allows you to save a little, but in the urban traffic, these half-seconds at each traffic light or in a traffic jam are forced to constantly work with a throttle, which also seems to not give pleasant sensations to the engine.

3 Rows

In the Pilot there are three rows of seats, with just the middle row being the least convenient. But the third row of seats allows with relative comfort to feel people of up to 5’10” tall (however, just for the convenience of the feet of the third row, the space of the second row decreases). To get back allows the folding chair, and for this it is enough to press the button and the electric drive will do everything itself.

In general, the interior, like the exterior, gives the impression of a strong leap away from off-road and dirt: the materials have become better, more beautiful, but not practical, so there is now no sense of a village pickup truck with dirty rugs and salted seats. In general, from the utilitarian functions, the interior moved to aesthetic pleasure. Some elements are not looking to be foreign… but clearly borrowed from Acura: the buttons of the center console for driving the transmission clearly hint at it.

Cool Features in Honda Pilot

1. The ignition button, and the keyless access with remote start system is included in all the trim levels, except the basic one.

2. Heated steering wheel, although it is available only in top-end equipment. By the way, the Elite package includes also a panoramic glass roof, heating and ventilation of the front seats, as well as simply heating the seats of the second row, LED optics and 20 “light alloy wheels.

3. Safety issues in Honda reacted with all seriousness, albeit for a surcharge. The package of branded systems Honda Sensing, is offered to lower trim levels for an additional one thousand dollars, and to higher Touring and Elite are included in advance. The list (again) of them is as follows:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Collision avoidance system with preventive braking
  • Lane-holding system
  • Roadside warning system
  • The system of preventive braking is just interesting in that it tries at least minimally, but reduces the damage and potential injuries by reducing the speed of movement.

The very same instrument panel has become much cleaner, although probably this is due to the fact that most of them moved to a permanent residence on the steering wheel.

Honda Pilot interior

The central console is decorated with an 8″ touch screen and, pleasantly, it is available on all trim levels except the basic. The interface is simple and intuitive, but it’s a bit nervous for some of its freezes: scrolling through the list of music, for example, takes place with a noticeable delay. The same trouble with the on-screen volume control, although this point is slightly corrected by the duplicate control from the steering wheel.

Behind the wheel and off the road

In the city and on the highway Honda Pilot moves smoothly and without a hint of “American” swing, as, say, Chevrolet Tahoe. No bites during braking and nauseating lulling on the waves. The car feels a monolithic block, despite its immense size. There are several reasons: a good distribution of weight along the axes, increased rigidity of the body and suspension points, a decent wheelbase along the length. Pushing in traffic jams on the Honda Pilot is not annoying, but as soon as you leave for the city, so in general grace comes: quietly, gently, respectably. And I do not want to hurry anywhere.

Honda Pilot test drive

While everything goes to the fact that the Honda Pilot, as one of its competitors Nissan Pathfinder, will turn into a large family station wagon. But no. Off-road Pilot is not as impotent as it might seem at first glance. The Japanese did not sacrifice the abilities of the car. However, you can order a version with a front-wheel drive, and then it will be nothing more than a family station wagon then.

Sophisticated AWD system

The most important thing for which it is worth overpaying with a purchase is certainly a brand new all-wheel drive, which is essentially a controlled version of the all-wheel drive from Acura. Selection on the i-VTM4 selector – and all 100% power is transferred to the front wheels, the choice of another item – and 70% is given back, and when it is necessary, all the power can be directed to only the rear wheel.

To make the all-wheel drive system better, Honda borrowed the ideas of off-road market leaders and added the so-called “intelligent traction control system” by placing the selector on the center console. The choice of mode clearly shows both the driver and the car itself, in what conditions it is now necessary to move – whether in snow, mud, sand … or on a normal road. However, the chosen version of the crossover will depend on the choice of predefined options: the front-drive model has only two options (normal and snow), and the full drive is available for all 4 points.

We tried the Honda Pilot in more difficult conditions – a steep, albeit short, bumpy lift with a slippery finish. From the dispersal here even front-wheel drive Kia Sportage could drive… And from a place? We get up at the starting position, choose the “dirt” mode, switch the drive selector to the “L” mode and try to drive.

Honda Pilot off road

For a moment, the car slips, after a split second, the torque is redistributed to those wheels that have a better hook, and a fairly heavy car without a noticeable effort conquers the hill. It is clear that because of the small strokes of the suspension and low enough lowered front bumper to plow fields, forests and mountains on the Pilot is a bad option, but since you were on an icy or slippery slope with an uneven surface, you can drive there.

Trim Levels and Pricing

Honda Pilot of 2018 model year in the launch version of the LX is offered with a front-wheel drive for $30,875, and for the proposed full-wheel drive you will have to pay an additional $1,800. (And this margin works in all trim levels). The EX version (also a front-wheel drive) will cost $33,310, and the addition to it Honda Sensing (automatic brake system, adaptive cruise control, lane hold system and line crossing warning) – an additional $1,000.

Honda Pilot car play

Version EX-L (and again only front-wheel drive) will cost from $36,785 dollars. And is equipped with a slightly richer: leather interior, heated front seats, but the same complex of systems Honda Sensing and navigation – again an additional $1,000. Want to include an entertainment system for the rear passengers – another $1,600.

The penultimate version with the Touring name for $41,900 dollars. Already includes the aforementioned rear multimedia system and navigation.

Features | Trim Levels AWD Honda Sensing Leather Seats Navigation Rear Seats Multimedia
LX Surcharge Not available Not available Not available Not available
EX Surcharge Surcharge Not available Not available Not available
EX-L Surcharge Surcharge Standard Surcharge Surcharge
Touring Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard


Honda has increased the already rather large SUV, providing the car with more options. The car became noticeably more comfortable, smoother in movement, a little more economical. Yes, charisma along with the square design has disappeared, but this type of cars are bought for the sake of the family, and not for the sake of a cool appearance, right? And if you need to stand out and feel like a real man, it’s probably better to take a Jeep Wrangler.