2017 Honda Pilot | CarGurus Test Drive Review

2017 Honda Pilot | CarGurus Test Drive Review

Hi, I’m Chris Wardlaw for CarGurus, and
this is one of the most popular vehicles in America, the 2017 Honda Pilot. The
Pilot is designed for people who are exactly like me. I’m a parent, I’ve got
four kids, two still living in the house, which is located in the suburbs of a
major city. I’ve got places to go, people to shuttle,
stuff to carry, and a honey-do list a mile long. I should probably just get a
minivan, but ew – lame. The Pilot is so much… um… cooler? I mean what if the hot mom at the school-pickup lane saw me driving an Odyssey? Ah…
Besides, what if it snows, or I need to drive up a dirt trail? You can’t get
all-wheel drive on most minivans. Anyway, the Pilot is built from the ground up to
make my life easier. Does it do that? Let’s go for a drive and discuss. So the
base price of a Honda Pilot is $31,535. My test vehicle is the Elite trim level, which is loaded with
every single thing Honda will throw on this SUV, and it costs $48,010. I know – almost fifty grand. You can get a nice Acura MDX for
that amount of money, and since the Acura shares its platform and drivetrain with
the Honda, why not upgrade, right? Well, here’s why. To get the same amount of
stuff on the Pilot as you get on the MDX, you’re going to spend at least another
$10,490 to make them equivalently optioned.
Sure, the Acura is better-looking, and it’s got nicer interior materials, and it
is more fun to drive, but think of what you can do with ten grand! That would pay for one heck of a nice family vacation. Now earlier I mentioned minivans. In
my opinion the slab-sided Pilot looks like one. Sure, the front end’s bigger and
it’s squared off, and the rear doors are hinged rather than sliders, but come on,
this isn’t a real SUV – it’s a crossover. The term crossover essentially means
tall, all-wheel drive station wagon. From the driver’s seat it even feels like a
minivan. It’s got the same front quarter windows for improved visibility, the same
thin windshield pillars and unobstructed view over the hood, the same wide
dashboard and low center console with a tray built into the top of it, the same
front captain’s chairs with adjustable armrests. My test model even has second-row captain’s chairs with a stumble-through to the third-row seat,
just like a minivan. Ah, but at the same time, the Pilot is
clearly not a minivan. For example, the rear doors have armrests and built-in
storage spaces, and when your kids toss them open, they’ll bang into the car next
to the Pilot instead of gliding out of the way. Let’s see what else – ah,
the Pilot’s got less cargo room than a minivan – about half as much, in fact. Oh,
and it’s got almost an inch of extra ground clearance compared to a Toyota
Sienna with all-wheel drive. An inch, people – like this much! But hey, this is an
SUV, so you know, this car is cool. Okay, let’s get serious here. You’re not going
to get a minivan, you’re getting a crossover SUV, and you just want to know
if the Honda Pilot is a good choice. The answer is yes. Unless you’re a big fan of
radio volume and tuning knobs – then not so much. Also, unless you upgrade to the
Touring or the Elite trim level, you can’t get a blind-spot warning system or
a rear cross-traffic alert system on this vehicle. Instead, you get something that’s called Lanewatch, and it only works for the right
side of the Pilot. Now that’s a technology that’s living on borrowed
time. In fact, Honda’s already dropped it from
the new redesigned CR-V, so my bet is it’s going to vanish from the Pilot in the next
year or two. Moving on – the funky transmission controls are also
moderately irritating. First, they’re right next to the cupholders. Now I wonder what happens if you spill a sticky drink on them. Probably nothing good. Additionally, the front passenger can’t raise the seat to be higher off the floor, and that is a
deal-breaker at my house. Finally, for the second time in two years,
I found the Pilot’s adaptive cruise- control system to struggle on
California’s Pacific Coast Highway between Malibu and Point Mugu. The curves, the widening and narrowing of northbound lanes, the oncoming traffic – it all freaks
the Pilot out, but other than these complaints, yeah, the Honda Pilot is an
excellent choice in a midsize 3-row crossover SUV. How so?
For starters, it’s huge inside. You can legitimately carry seven adults in a
Pilot, provided that you’ve got the second-row bench seat instead of my test
vehicle’s captain’s chairs, and most of those people will actually be
comfortable. Fold the third-row seat down, and the Pilot holds 46.8 cubic feet of cargo. That’s plenty for an epic road trip, and about a Miata trunk’s
worth shy of a full-size Chevy Tahoe. And if you need maximum space, the Pilot
provides 83.9 cubic feet of room, falling short of the Tahoe by just two Miata
trunks. The Pilot’s interior is quiet. It’s
refined, it’s loaded with quality materials. Outward visibility is
outstanding, and the controls, other than the infotainment system and the
transmission, are a model of simplicity. Perhaps more important given its mission
as a family car, the Pilot is safe. All of them get a 5-star crash test
rating from the federal government, and all of them get a Top Safety Pick rating
from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Plus, Honda thoughtfully offers its Honda Sensing suite of driver- assistance and collision-avoidance
technologies on every single trim level except for the base LX model. Now as some of you regular viewers have already figured out about me, I am a big fan of the
democratization of safety technologies. I’m also a big fan of the way the Honda
Pilot drives. It’s got a powerful 280- horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that can
operate on fewer cylinders under certain conditions in order to improve fuel
economy. If you get the Touring or the Elite model, the engine adds an idle stop
function that will shut the engine off while the Pilot is sitting still in traffic
or at an intersection. Additionally the Touring and Elite
models replace the standard 6-speed automatic transmission with a 9-speed
automatic. Now this more complex transmission includes a Sport driving
mode, it’s got paddle shifters and software that learns your driving style
and then shifts accordingly. All-wheel drive is optional for all trim levels,
except for the Elite, where it is standard. Fuel economy meets expectations. The EPA says a Pilot with all-wheel drive and the
9-speed automatic transmission should get 22 miles per gallon in combined
driving, and I got 21.9 miles per gallon on my test loop, and for part of the drive I
did have the transmission in the Sport mode, and I was using the paddle shifters. Now that was when I was trying to hustle the Pilot down a mountain road. It wasn’t
much fun, but the Pilot handles well enough to inspire confidence in its
driving. Where you’re most likely to pilot the Pilot, it drives beautifully. Steering
effort is light, but response is crisp and accurate. The brakes bite with
authority and are very easy to modulate. The suspension is tuned for a compliant
and comfortable ride, but it also does an expert job of controlling body roll in
turns. All-in-all, the Pilot is a perfect dance partner for daily life, just
don’t expect it to raise your pulse. As midsize crossover SUV vehicles go, the Honda Pilot’s a good one. Whether or not you think it’s a great
one depends on your tolerance level for its idiosyncrasies. Either way, to answer
the question I posed at the start of this review, yes, the Pilot made my life
easier. Not quite to the degree that a minivan would have, but then no crossover can. Be sure to check out my full review of the Pilot on CarGurus.com, and if you
found this review helpful, please share this video and subscribe to our YouTube
channel. For all of us at CarGurus, thank you for watching.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Why the hell are you sitting so high??? I mean your head is nearly touching the ceiling in a vehicle with ridiculous head room smh.

  2. Before I decided for Honda I tested Toyota Highlander Limited Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX9 and they are good options in the segment but the Pilot has a better engine performance, spacious room and handling and the 3rd row is really comfortable even for adults but in the other options, the third row is really a ridiculous punishment room. Looking in the whole package the Pilot runs really smoothly and fast when it is required. The headroom is really good for people with 6' tall or more and it gives you a comfortable sensation with the nice interior and great entertainment in HD (my kid even can play Xbox in it). The vehicle is very light despite having a great dimension. I own a Turing 2017 (In Canada it is equivalent to the Elite in US). Great performance and good handling. I am very satisfied and my family loves the Pilot.

  3. If i needed a big family car for 6-7 i'd HAPPILY buy a Carnival or the new Chrysler (apparently its amazing). I'm up there with the biggest car/driving nuts in the world but i dont need to satisfy my ego by going for one of these not so SUV SUVs.

  4. Hey Chris. Great Review. Honda should make blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert standard on a trim levels. Those two come on the 17 CRV EX at 26k but you have to pay 48k to get them on a Pilot. What were they smoking.

  5. Downward sloping rear end suck. This Pilot has a cargo window that isn't loped off like everything else. Straight lines people, that isn't much to ask.

  6. Think about 10K you spent in car whistles and bells when it comes time for your kids to start paying off college loans

  7. I drive pilot 2012 and would not ever upgrade to this "mini van ". Very upset that Honda took nice car and turned to a minivan. Hope that the will rethink of their design

  8. What is Honda thinking?. I like just about everything about the new redesigned Pilot.. It is fairly quiet, nice ride, it sits up nice and tall (which is nice since so many SUVs (and minivans) are now built so low to the ground – i prefer a higher driving position). But why would Honda give the Pilot (and Ridgeline) such a weird and ugly dashboard layout? (Although I really like the very steering wheel). WOW.. If only Honda would've made a simple traditional dashboard layout with slightly oversized traditional knobs.. I would've bought a Pilot.. (Even "Consumers Report" mag criticized the controls). At least you can still get a six speed transmish with a traditional shifter in lower to mid level trims. Oh, and Honda please get rid of the push button shifter!!!

  9. My parents just got the Honda Pilot. They also have four kids and my other two sisters are still living in their house in the suburbs and they go visit us and run errands to different places. haha so on point. I get to test their car when I go home. So excited!!

  10. i test drove the pilot about 4 months ago……what a horrible car, it feels like your driving a 1950 truck with blown shocks…..the transmission is soooooo horrible, i can't believe honda still putting that kind of junk in their cars. so a BIG NO for me.

  11. Man, u sound like a complaining ex-wife who whines about everything but at the end she settles. Review the systems of the SUV and stop whining. If u don't like it, buy a minivan. God! Worst wannabe review I have watched.

  12. After a 1 year review of 3 row suvs and test driving 7 I purchased a Honda Pilot Elite today. It is not a perfect car but the pros seemed to outweigh the con.

    1. Space. Very nice size for its footprint. Much bigger inside than an MDX. Great storage areas throughout. third row livable.
    2. Drivability Handles well, great vision lines, braking above average
    3. Transmission did not bother me perhaps they have done some reprogramming on the 2017s?
    4. IIHS top safety pick +
    5. I have had a 07 Pilot for 10 years with no problems
    6. I am 6'5" and I fit well in this car

    1. Idle stop start is terrible. I will turn it off when I start the car.
    2. Lane keep assist is intrusive on curvy Blue Ridge Mountain roads in my area so may turn that off as well
    3. Shifter unnecessary but I think I will get used to it.
    4. From some angles really, really looks like a mini van
    5. No electric park brake on elite trim

  13. 2016-17 Negatives of Honda Pilot. Unless you get the elite model you'll be missing the following unless you or the dealer add$ it.
    -blind side indicators w/mirrors
    -motorized power folding mirrors
    -roof rack and rails
    -full size moon roof
    -step bars
    -mud guards

    Pet Peeves:
    -radio always shuts off when you turn the motor off. There's no 5min standby like in Chevy or VW.
    -reverse camera does provide a 3sec delay once you shift to drive like in Chevy or VW.
    -interior materials are cheap
    -seat warmers do not turn off automatically when you turn off your engine.

  14. Touch screen is v small.
    Kind of weird.compare to overall vehicle.
    Dont like at all. That cheap tab look of screen.
    What if they would have made little bigger.

  15. I am fresh out of college and I need this car. I used to want a muscle car, but I am embracing LARGE now.

  16. Bro japanese car brands has good engines not like Korean and other cars Japanese ik it sounds bad but Honda is all Japanese Nissan and Mazda too and they look good still

  17. Pilot is for everyone. You don’t need a big family to own a pilot. I have a friend who is single and drives a 2005 GMC Yukon XL.

  18. Toyota Highlander would have been such a great option for me considering Toyota doesn't act like a bitch when we try to negotiate prices they always give you big discounts unlike Honda who most of the time won't budge but one thing that stopped me from taking Highlander over pilot was the last row in Highlander sucks ass like the whole SUV is good but the back of the car is really cramped

  19. Chris could do show on Ford Explorer St2020. in depth analysis the Do' Don't about the car and advice on your dislike about the car…… Kenya Nairobi

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