The Honda Pilot is one of those vehicles that you know are popular but that you never really notice. Its mission is one of practicality, not flashiness, and as such it's been very successful for Honda. (In fact, in the month of May, the Pilot outsold the entire Acura division.) Its boxy exterior is anything but eye-catching, and its interior is pleasant but not overly fussy and is filled with lots of useful storage bins. There are other vehicles in this segment - such as the Mazda CX-9 -- that are more attractively styled and are more powerful, but the Pilot manages to outsell the CX-9 more than four to one. The Pilot capitalizes on its reputation for reliability, on the cachet of the Honda name, and, most important, on the fact that it is a very usable vehicle that makes sense for lots of consumers.
Wow, no wonder this Pilot is so well equipped: It's $41K! But, hey, for that you get retracting sunshades for the rear-seat side windows. It just might be worth it. All kidding aside, even though this generation of the Pilot is approaching the middle of its life cycle (and it wasn't that different from its predecessor to being with), it is aging well, and it still feels so SOLID. Especially so for a vehicle that is built on a car-derived platform, albeit one that clearly has been heavily modified for SUV duty.
We can carp about option packages and pricing all we want, but it's hard to deny that the Pilot is one of the best-driving crossovers in its segment. The steering is very nicely weighted, and engineers have dialed in the suspension perfectly -- there's little body roll, and the ride quality is neither too soft nor too stiff.
The Pilot's interior packaging feels quite a bit tighter than what you get in a Chevrolet Traverse or Ford Flex, so comfortably packing seven (or eight, if you dare) people could be a bit more challenging. If you're just using the first two rows of seats, though, the Honda's appeal becomes more apparent. Despite an underwhelming spec sheet, the Pilot drives great, whether you're talking about power delivery or handling or ride comfort. Combine that with a reputation for consistent quality and you understand what draws in Honda customers. It's not sexy styling, the latest features, or the best numbers. Of course, I doubt anyone would complain if Honda dug up some classier duds for this crossover.
Like Joe DeMatio, I was a bit shocked to see the $41,175 price tag on the Pilot. Although it's not uncommon for press cars to arrive with every option box checked, some of this Touring model's extras, including Bluetooth, a USB input, and a power liftgate, are standard on competitors. Honda, with its love of bundles, won't even let you opt for most of these extras until you step up to $35,000 EX-L trim.