There are more than a few plausible particulars on why Honda’s new Pilot is a must see for families looking for a versatile crossover SUV. The thing is, it’s as versatile as any I’ve recently experienced. With the ability to accommodate eight passengers comfortably in its three-row compact configuration, the vehicle soars up the charts in almost every category.
It’s not easy re-inventing a solid platform that will cater to current customers as well as to newfound, potential buyers. The overture must satisfy the needs of family oriented expectations with safety features, conveniences, well thought-out creature comforts, and sophisticated telecommunications capabilities. Honda achieves all of the above, with the only setback stemming from its lack of a modern exterior packaging. The 2012 Pilot sits upright, more square than Sponge Bob’s pants and has no curvilinear lines in its body except the front bumper with its integrated fog lights. But again, this is a family vehicle and will probably be the first of many. Honda does offer this utility vehicle with a trailer hitch; dual chrome exhaust tips; chrome body moldings; roof rails; beefy 235/60 R18 Michelin all-weather tires; a power liftgate with opening glass; collapsible side view mirrors; parking sensors, and a sunroof.
Inside, the roomy cabin equates to an Acura RDX or something more luxurious in the Honda family. Beginning with the robotronic, vertical dash, you begin to wonder how Honda was able to elevate the technology of the Pilot considering its current price point of $41,630. The base LX FWD starts at an affordable $29,280 (including destination charges). My vehicle was enhanced with an LCD screen, navigation, parking guidance, satellite radio, iPod connectivity, hard disc drive, USB audio, 115-volt power outlet, Bluetooth and Bluetooth audio. There was absolutely no way that I could tire of driving this new Pilot. Its multi-function steering wheel featured redundant controls for the audio as well as cruise control switches. The front windows are one-touch auto up/down and the second row panes came with privacy shades. Pockets and cup holders were omnipresent throughout the vehicle. For example, each rear door was outlined with three levels of storage and two different sized cup holders. My two daughters fought for the third row space, not realizing that both of them and their best friend could have fit with ease. The youngest won the positioning, as she figured out how to tumble the second row and enter before the 8-year old. Neither however, took advantage of the 9” Rear Entertainment System because they were preoccupied with iPads and iPods. Besides, who carries DVDs any longer? We gave our child collection to Purple Heart and embraced digital media two years ago.
The Pilot’s power is totally adequate for a family of four. The 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and 5-speed automatic transmission combo feels best on the highway. Passing power is at its peak when the vehicle is already up to speed. In the city the engine is a bit loud and takes time to push forward when the cabin is fully loaded. I would also like to see its 17 mpg city and 24 mpg hwy mileage ratings increased a bit. Yet, with four-wheel drive, side curtain airbags on all three rows and a multitude of entertainment features, I’m willing to sacrifice a few dollars at the pump!