We like to think we know the family-car shopper. Besides our diligence in checking just how well child-safety seats fit in new vehicles, we also happen to be a staff with a lot of kids of various ages at home. That’s one of the reasons the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot, unveiled at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, is so interesting to us.
To be a great family car — like the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe, winner of Cars.com’s Family Car of the Year — it needs to not only handle all the kids’ wants and needs, but also take care of the adults. After all, it’s important that Mom or Dad remain sane on even the shortest drives.
The little ones often come first, and theoretically they should. Honda thought of them first too. “The redesigned Pilot has easy-to-reach cupholders nearly everywhere you look, with double cupholders in the rear doors and next to the third row’s outboard seats,” said Jennifer Newman, assistant managing editor and mother of two. “In the Pilot with the optional captain’s chairs, there’s also another set of cupholders in the low center console covered with a nonslip material perfect for corralling toys and books.”
Honda says the new Pilot will still be able to hold three car seats across the second row when equipped with the bench seat. “That, plus the fact that it’s equipped with three top tether anchors in the third row should make it very attractive to large families,” said Cars.com reviewer and mother of three Jennifer Geiger.
As kids get older, carpooling means carting tweens and teens to after-school activities, sports practices and more. “I had no problem getting into the third row and had plenty of knee room and headroom back there with the second row in place,” said Managing Editor David Thomas, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall.
The second-row seats feature two buttons that easily fold and slide them forward. One is found on the side of the seat bottom, which you hit when getting into the Pilot’s third row, and one is on the seatback that makes exiting the third row painless. “It doesn’t get much easier than that,” said Thomas, who’s a father of two. The model in the pictures here is actually Cars.com Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays, who is about 6 feet tall.
The redesigned Pilot seems to have all the electronic gear to keep kids entertained on the road, at least on the top trim level on display at the auto show. “From a Blu-ray player with a drop-down screen to an HDMI port for a gaming console, there’s plenty to keep kids of all ages busy on those never-ending road trips,” Newman said. The Pilot also offers up to five USB ports, and four of them are powerful enough to charge iPads.
Parents get to sit in a rather comfy driver’s seat with plenty of entertainment options for themselves, but they may find the storage spaces more valuable in day-to-day life.
The center console is quite big, and there are plenty of smaller cubbies too. “The old Pilot’s center console was puny for such a large vehicle; this model’s console is much bigger and can definitely hold a large purse,” Geiger said. “Another cabin nicety is the pop-down conversation mirror — great for a quick checkup on the munchkins.”
This full-size crossover’s cargo capability also impressed us. “I’m a little unsure of the true cargo-floor height because the Pilot was on a raised platform at the show, but the hard-plastic cargo cover behind the third row is a nice touch, and there’s a significant amount of under-floor storage too,” Thomas said. The hard-plastic cargo cover can be moved to the bottom of the storage well, creating more cargo area for taller items and helping to corral grocery bags.
Unfortunately, important facts like how much power the Pilot will pack and what mileage it will get haven’t been revealed, but even without that info, it checks a lot of boxes when it comes to making families happy on the road. We’re looking forward to putting our little ones into the 2016 Pilot and putting it to a real-life test when it goes on sale later this year.