The Pilot has been on sale for twelve years now, selling over 1.4 million units during that time. Just as the times have changed so has the Pilot. Honda says it was the first SUV as a uni-body, a car-like SUV that gives a more refined ride. The 2nd generation Pilot, from 2009-2015 was more rugged and included off-roading and towing. The third generation Honda Pilot will be a game changer for that segment and Honda.
Honda says the Pilot buyer has the highest brand retention, at 62.6%, of any vehicle in its segment. Toyota Highlander is the most cross-shopped brand when considering a 3-row SUV. The Pilot has the lowest average age of its competitors at 47 years old, the others in the mid-50s. Honda gave the competitor's average age; Ford Explorer is 52, Chevy Traverse 55, Toyota Highlander 55 and the GMC Acadia 57 years old.
The 2nd generation is long in the tooth and in dire need of an upgrade. We started our journey in the 2016 Honda Pilot Elite. When we got to lunch, we jumped into the 2nd generation Pilot and felt like we had gone back in time to the dinosaur age. The third generation Pilot is light years away from the 2nd generation. It is going to give the Toyota Highlander, the Ford Explorer, the Nissan Pathfinder and the Chevy Traverse and the Volvo XC90 T6 a run for their money.
Just opening the door of the second-generation Pilot, the ding-ding starts connoting a key in the steering wheel column. As I went through the competitive SUVs only the Chevy Traverse uses a key in the steering column, all the other SUVs use push button start.
Longer and more fuel-efficient the Pilot is going after a more family functional and premium appeal for the third generation of Honda's flagship SUV.
Everyone says they want to be family functional, but then you get in a car, and you might find one USB port and an AUX port. The Pilot has five USB ports, 4 of them being 2.5 amp charging capability. In the Pilot, 4 of those USB ports have the ability to connect to infotainment and play audio. You also have HDMI port, 115-volt outlet, 12-volt lug, two headphone jacks, an auxiliary jack and an A/V socket all at your fingertips.
The Pilot is offered with one engine, two transmissions and five trim levels, LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, Elite.
The Pilot offers the choice of two different automatic transmissions; A new 6-speed automatic in LX, EX, and EX-L models, and a first for Honda, a 9-speed automatic on Touring and Elite models. Four intelligent traction management systems are also available; Normal, Snow, Mud, and Sand.
Honda still partners with Garmin for their Navigation system, including real-time re-routing when you're in a traffic jam and 3D view. They have come out with tune start, tune mix, and sports flash all features that you use intuitively and have missed in a vehicle before.
One of the new safety functions on the Pilot is called tire fill assist a technology supplied by Continental AG auto supplier. On my old 1993 car, I use a digital pressure stick to check the tire pressure. I fill up the tires and check the pressure. It takes a couple times to get the pressure correct. Honda's tire fill assist allows for accurate filling; the car chirps when filled correctly. No more checking your analog pressure stick and hoping it is correct.
Honda Pilot's Advanced Safety Performance on Driving the Nation
It's not just words when Honda says the new Pilot features the most comprehensive set of advanced safety and driver-assisted technologies ever offered on a Honda vehicle. Together these technologies make up Honda Sensing; a suite of technologies designed to expand the driver’s situational awareness while sensing and responding to potential road hazards, including other vehicles, road obstacles and even pedestrians, even to the point of mitigating the possibility or severity of a collision. The new Pilot includes a standard Multi-Angle Rearview Camera and a suite of available safety and driver assistive technologies that includes Honda’s LaneWatch display, a blind spot information system, Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBSTM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control, and two Honda-first technologies: Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) system and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor.
It will not surprise anyone when the Pilot receives the highest safety ratings in its class and targets a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Internationally recognized for safety Honda included technology that is not required by NHTSA, and not offered as standard on other cars in each segment.
From the inception, the Pilot has been produced in Alabama and will go on sale June 18, 2015.