2016 Honda Pilot Touring AWD Review
The 2016 Honda Pilot proves to be a one of a kind Sport Utility vehicle that applies to family transportation needs.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s best: More power, better fuel efficiency, higher quality levels, more content and a lot of trim choices.
- What’s worst: Somewhat minivan-like design but, then again, SUVs are really nothing more than minivans with some off-road pretensions. The nine-speed automatic, however, should really be standard across the lineup.
- What’s interesting: The evolution of the Pilot and its content upgrades brings it closer than ever to the Acura MDX.
2016 Honda Pilot Touring AWD at a glance
BODY STYLE: Midsize seven-passenger SUV.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel drive via a nine-speed transmission.
ENGINE: 3.5-litre Earth Dreams SOHC i-VTEC direct injection V6 (280 hp, 262 lb/ft).
CARGO CAPACITY: Touring model 510 litres, 1,557 litres behind second row, 3,072 litres behind front row.
TOW RATING: 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) on AWD properly equipped models.
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) Pilot Touring AWD 12.4/9.3L/100 km (city/hwy); as tested 11.5L/100km (comb).
With the ever-increasing popularity of sport utility styling applied to family transportation needs, it’s inevitable that companies are constantly refining and evolving their products.
The Pilot may not win the bulk sales of its smaller siblings, but it is Honda’s largest SUV and the flagship of the lineup.
Tracing its ancestry back to a 2003 entry that Honda cites as “the first three-row mainstream SUV to be developed on a car-like unit-body platform, this new-for-2016 third generation Pilot continues the evolution of sport utility, starting with chassis and body revisions that have increased rigidity by 25 per cent while reducing curb weight by a whopping 135 kg.
The new Pilot is longer (+80 mm), lower (-65 mm) and a touch wider (+2 mm), although, curiously, the track is slightly narrower. Honda makes much of sleeker exterior styling cues but there’s no mistaking the Pilot.
The face is a little less Porky Piggish but, even with rounded out corners, the boxy, minivan-like shape and the squat and still squared-off dimensions are as recognizable as ever.
New features include brighter optional LED projector headlights with auto high beam along with LED taillights and new daylight running lamps (DRLs).
Big 20-inch alloy wheels are available and the Pilot also offers a first-ever Panoramic Roof option.
A definite uptick in exterior quality carries over inside the Pilot with LED map lighting, new soft-touch materials and added acoustic soundproofing for a quieter cabin.
Modern touches include a very sensible push-button electronic gear selector instead of the archaic console shifters or column shifters of yore.
And the dash is virtually dial-free with, instruments controlled by buttons or touch-screen menu scrolling. Yeah, I get the whole iPod generation emphasis, but don’t get me started on how much easier it is to tune a radio with actual knobs . . .
The Pilot is available in eight- or seven-passenger configurations and, for the first time; higher trim level models offer second-row captain’s chairs for easier access between the second and third rows. There’s plenty of room for friends or family in either configuration.
The minivan-like rear hatch opens up to an admittedly smallish 510 litre space, thanks to the third row seating, but flopping those seats forward opens up 1,537 litres of luggage room, culminating in a maximum of 3,072 litres behind the first row with both the second and third rows folded flat.
The two-position cargo floor in the very back is a nice touch however and, frankly, if you need more cargo room than the Pilot offers, you’d be better off accepting the soccer mom mantra and getting yourself a very practical Odyssey minivan.
The Pilot lineup starts with the LX front-wheel drive model ($35,490) and offers six different trim level gradients, topping out with a Touring version with Honda’s latest Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) all-wheel-drive system ($50,490) and an Intelligent Traction Management System with Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand settings.
The Touring model tested here also offers all the goodies you’d ever expect including heated, ventilated front seats, a heated second row, a heated steering wheel, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Rear Cross Traffic monitoring and a 10-speaker 540-watt AM/FM/CD 5.1 Surround Sound Display Audio System with Voice Recognition Navigation.
We could carry on with an even longer list of included extras at this Touring level, but let’s peek under the hood for an equally important revelation – Honda’s new 3.5-litre, direct-injected i-VTEC V6 engine making 280 hp (up 30 hp) and 262 lb/ft of torque (up 9 lb/ft). The engine pulls nicely and a Pilot with AWD will even tow up to 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) if properly equipped.
The new Earth Dreams V6 features Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that will shut off half the cylinders under light cruising conditions, benefiting fuel efficiency along with an ECON setting and Idle Stop technology that will also kick in to save gas.
The Pilot’s V6 is mated to a six-speed automatic in most trim levels but the Touring model offers a more modern, push button-operated nine-speed automatic that is 30 kg lighter with 25 percent quicker shifts. It also features multi-shift capability and a wider ratio spread for, again, better fuel efficiency.
This Touring model is officially rated at 12.4/9.3L/100km (city/hwy), very respectable for a biggish mid-size SUV. My real world results averaged out to 11.5L/100km (comb).
I haven’t even touched on other changes and a long list of dynamic technologies that include Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and the list goes on and on.
But I think you get the picture.
The combined effect of new and refined safety and driver-assist technologies, along with new levels of interior content and sophistication blends nicely with the slightly tweaked styling statement that makes the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot worth checking out.
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