Reviews

2017 Honda Pilot Driving Impressions


The Pilot’s engine is a revamped version of Honda’s direct-injected 3.5-liter V6. Wound up toward redline, it has a lovely engine note that underscores Honda’s legendary reputation as an engine builder. We estimate acceleration from zero to sixty in less than seven seconds.

The LX, EX and EX-L use a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the Touring and Elite get a new 9-speed automatic, which brings one more mile per gallon. We prefer the 6-speed. It has a narrower spread of gears, making it a bet less quick from the start and a bit less relaxed on the freeway, but it shifts more cleanly. Only once or twice did we feel it wait too long to upshift; while with the 9-speed, it happened fairly often. It also surged when it sought a gear lower than we did. If we had wanted that gear, and had shifted with the paddles, there wouldn’t have been an issue.

With the 6-speed, there’s a shift lever on the console. With the 9-speed, a bunch of buttons replaces that lever, as well as the paddles. The 9-speed also has a Sport mode and shift logic that anticipates downhill gear changes, and can hold gears when cornering. Clicking the left paddle twice does a double downshift to make the most of the engine’s energetic thrust and sound. When you use the paddles one time, the transmission goes into manual mode for 30 seconds, before reverting back to automatic in order to save fuel. If you put it in Sport mode, the transmission stays in manual.

Torque vectoring on AWD models directs more power to the outside wheel in a turn to help it turn in better in turns. Pilots with 20-inch tires have softer shocks to offset the harshness from the short sidewalls. Front-wheel-drive versions with 18-inch wheels and tires have firmer suspensions.

The AWD can send up to 70 percent of available torque rearward, then split that power between the two rear wheels using electronic actuators and hydraulic clutches. It all happens quicker than you can think.

Most models come with traction control with several modes (Normal, Snow, Mud, or Sand), enhancing capability in foul weather, but it’s limited and not designed for rugged terrain.

The available road-departure mitigation can help inattentive drivers stay in their lane, but we found it annoying.

Prices shown are manufacturer suggested retail prices only and do not include taxes, license, or doc fee. Manufacturer vehicle accessory costs, labor and installation vary. Please contact us with any questions.

**Based on 2014 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, battery-pack age/condition and other factors.

For 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, 115 combined miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent (MPGe) electric rating; 47 city/46 highway/46 combined MPG gasoline only rating. 13 mile maximum EV mode driving range rating. 570 mile combined gas-electric driving range rating. Based on 2014 EPA mileage and driving range ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your MPGe/MPG and driving range will vary depending on driving conditions, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, lithium-ion battery age/condition, and other factors. For additional information about EPA ratings, visit http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/label/learn-more-PHEV-label.shtml.

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