The Honda Pilot long has been a staple in the three-row SUV class, and the 2020 model is still a contender. However, the Pilot saw its last refresh in 2019 and not much has changed since then. Is this oldie still a goodie
The 2020 Honda Pilot has some pretty tough competition — the all-new Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, the redesigned Ford Explorer and more. When we stacked it up against these vehicles and others in our 2020 3-Row SUV Challenge, it finished last. Still, you shouldn’t write it off; the 2020 Pilot has lots of storage space, a comfortable interior and plenty else going for it.
In the market for a new Pilot and want the comprehensive take? Check out Cars.com’s Brian Wong’s full review via the related link above. For the bite-size version, below is a quick list of things we like (and don’t) about the 2020 Honda Pilot:
Things We Like
1. Smooth Drive
For the most part, the Pilot offers competent handling and quality ride. The 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine makes 262 pounds-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. For day-to-day driving, the Pilot is comfortable and the base powertrain is competent.
2. Upgraded Nine-Speed Transmission
The Pilot’s single engine option is paired to two available transmissions depending on trim level: a six-speed automatic or nine-speed automatic. The nine-speed was the focus of quite a few upgrades in 2019 and is much improved. Available in Touring and above trims, it makes smooth shifts and contributes to the Pilot’s easy ride. This transmission also helps the Pilot’s fuel-economy figures, which are EPA-rated at 20/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined for the FWD models.
3. Ample Storage and Comfy Cockpit
There’s no shortage of storage space in the Pilot’s cabin. The doors have three levels of shelves, there’s a compartment in the center console and, if you opt for available second-row captain’s chairs, there’s a large tray between them. Those captain’s chairs also have a quick-release button on the back to make it easier to get into the third row. Up front, the driver and passenger seats are well cushioned and supportive for a comfortable ride.
4. Good Visibility
The Pilot tied for first place in this category in our Challenge, and for good reason. Tall windows and slim pillars make it easy to see out front, behind you and in your blind spots.
5. Fun Optional Features
The Pilot has a few features that make it unique in its category. For one, most three-row SUVs have ditched offering a DVD/Blu-ray entertainment system in the rear, but the Pilot still has screens for kids (or adults, no judgment) in the backseat. A large wireless charging pad is also available, as is a dual-pane moonroof that gives the cabin an open feel.
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Things We Don’t
1. Dark, Dated Interior
The interior of our test vehicle was monochrome black, but the uniform color didn’t do much to disguise the cheap, shiny plastics that overrun the dashboard. The upholstery was also black, adding to the dark feel of the cabin. The electronic gauges on the dash seem dated, as well.
2. Hard-to-Use Multimedia System
Every Pilot but the base LX trim gets the Display Audio system with an 8-inch touchscreen. It’s a frustrating series of seemingly endless menus that make it difficult to complete even simple tasks. The addition of a volume knob saves you from having to search for that one function, but the usability as a whole is unintuitive. Plugging in your phone and using AppleCarPlay or Android Auto connectivity might be the only way around it.
3. Safety and Driver Assist Tech Needs Assistance
The 2020 Pilot’s standard Honda Sensing safety suite includes forward automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure prevention. The EX trim (just above the base LX) also gets a blind spot warning system.
But when you look to competitors, the Pilot is lacking when it comes to safety. The adaptive cruise control only works when you’re driving faster than roughly 20 mph. For the lane departure prevention system to function, you have to be going between 45 and 90 mph, and the system doesn’t include lane-centering steering. Competitors have versions of these features that work at a wider range of speeds, some even down to a stop. Many of them also have high-speed automatic emergency braking, reverse automatic braking and 360-degree or front camera systems.
4. Car Seat Accommodations
In the Challenge, the Pilot was one of the two lowest-scoring vehicles when it came to child-safety seat fitment. In our Car Seat Check, it scored three A’s, four B’s and two C’s, with the lower ratings caused by issues in the third row.
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