2016 Honda Pilot | Road Test
* Exterior styling is significantly sharper than that of its predecessors.
* Cabin space is truly astounding.
* Sufficiently equipped.
* Glitchy infotainment system that repeatedly hangs and leaves you with nothing but a deafening silence.
* High beams that are in the kindest of words, utterly pointless.
* 9-speed automatic transmission for the U.S market only.
Introduction & Summary
The Honda Pilot is no newcomer to the region’s mid-size segment. Operating under an MR-V alias since the early 2000’s, the Pilot has established itself as a commendable rival to the likes of Nissan’s Pathfinder and Ford’s Explorer. Embracing the paradigm shift of the segment and following in the footsteps of its rivals, the Pilot has jumped aboard the Crossover bandwagon, trading its ruggedness for refinement and luxury.
Styling & Design
Designed by Ben Davidson, the third generation model bids farewell to the blockish silhouette of its predecessors. With a lower and wider stance, the Pilot exudes a sense of athleticism, and with a broad chrome bedecked countenance it hints at its Accord and Odyssey underpinnings. Along the 4,964mm long bodywork, dashes of chrome and prominent creases lend the Japanese crossover a little panache and compliment the overall design.
Within the cabin, silver and piano black garnishes embellish the dashboard while the broad centre console and wide seats form only a small part of the expansive interior. Striking the right balance between the use of hard plastics and leather, the Pilot emanates an aura of affordable luxury, all illuminated in an azure ambient light.
With an extensive feature list and a price tag of AED 160,000, the Touring variant of the Pilot doesn’t leave a whole lot to be desired. While a remote engine starter, a panoramic roof and a rear entertainment set-up highlight the first half of the list, there’s Honda’s blind spot monitoring system (Lane Watch) and a tire pressure monitoring system onboard to prove just how far the third-generation model has come from its predecessor.
Performance, Ride & Handling
Although dimensionally larger than the model it replaces, the 2016 Pilot’s stringent diet sees it tip scales at a smidgen over the 2 ton mark – a reduction of almost 135 kg. With less weight to lug around and power up at 280 horsepower, the peppy oriental hits 100 km/h from a standstill in just 8.5 seconds and bears a top speed of 183 km/h.
Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the 3.5 litre V6 unit residing under the hood sips 11.5 litres / 100 km, but that is not to say the Pilot lacks any sort of grunt. A jab of the accelerator pedal and the green eco rings that illuminate the instrument cluster fade out, all whilst the mid-size SUV charges forward with absolutely no hesitation.
With various drive modes activated through the centre console, the Pilot alters its power delivery and shifting pattern based on whether it’s operating in Normal, Snow, Sand, or Mud mode. Although the suspension remains constant and doesn’t vary according to the terrain selected, the bigger issue limiting the Pilot is its 185mm ground clearance.
Comfort & Practicality
As a family hauler, the Pilot fits the bill well and offers a lot more than just a spacious and comfortable cabin that houses a virtually endless supply of cubbyholes. With an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat and a 4-way adjustable passenger seat, getting cosy doesn’t require much effort, and with a roomy third row, adults in the back won’t be neglected either. On the practicality side of things, the Pilot boasts storage capacities of 467 litres behind the third row, 1,325 litres behind the second row, and a whopping 2,375 litres behind the first-row – significantly more than its rival, the Nissan Pathfinder.
Price & Verdict
While the previous generation model didn’t create much of a stir in its segment, the 2016 Pilot has what it takes to make the competition all jittery. With its retail price being lesser than that of the dated Pathfinder and Explorer, the Pilot makes a commendable case for itself. In several ways, the Pilot comes off as the crossover its rivals should have been – affordable and capable.