2016 Honda Pilot Elite Is Your Mobile Family Command Center
Right off the bat, you can tell that this is a whole new brand of Pilot. What was once the boxy, macho alternative to the Toyota Highlander has gotten curvy, with a sleek, chrome front end and lines that remind us more of an Odyssey than anything else.
That’s not to say it’s bad-looking, of course, as this is one of the better looking Honda style languages in recent years, and it translates nicely to their largest offering. Handsome 20-inch alloys and tasteful chrome trim give this SUV some presence. Cover up the Honda badges, and it could easily be mistaken for an Acura. Perhaps the corporate ties between the two have pulled too close together…
A simple, smooth design
Inside, however, the Pilot eschews class in favor of pure utility. Our top-tier Elite trim Pilot was equipped with a beige interior, and it turns out that “beige” describes more than just the color. A simple, smooth design favors functionality, and everything is placed conveniently and in a way that is least confusing to the driver.
If there’s one thing the Pilot’s interior truly excels at, it’s space, both of the storage and passenger varieties. I can’t recall any vehicle I’ve driven this side of a cargo van that has so many big and small storage compartments all around, let alone room to breathe for each of its potential 8 occupants.
The Elite trim ditches dual bench seats in favor of captains chairs, which are handy if you never expect to carry a full additional 7 passengers. Our tester also had a rear entertainment system complete with Blu-ray player, an HDMI input, and music functionality. That should keep those kiddies – or easily entertained adults – busy for a while.
High safety standards
And don’t worry about whether or not you’ll be safe behind the wheel, as blind spot monitoring, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, and road departure mitigation help to make this SUV one of the safest around, so much so that it received the vaunted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick+” rating. So it’s cavernous, well-equipped, and safe, but surely you must be wondering how it drives. Well, the Pilot is certainly no sports car, but as a family SUV it gets the job done.
The first thing you notice behind the wheel is just how large this car is. On the streets of New York, it felt like driving a small bus. Thankfully, while steering feel is extremely light and almost void of feedback, the Pilot does an excellent job of going exactly where you point it.
At a total price of $47,470 for the Elite, it’s not exactly bargain basement cheap, but you’ll save yourself a lot of money by opting for the EX-L AWD trim with navigation and a 6-speed automatic, which offers almost all of the goodies of the Elite at a savings of almost $10 grand.