2020 Honda Pilot

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2020 Honda Pilot
2020 Honda Pilot

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Combined MPG


Seating capacity

196.5” x 70.6”


Front-wheel drive



The good:

  • Honda Sensing active safety systems standard
  • Cabin quietness
  • Smooth highway ride
  • One-touch, sliding second-row seats available
  • Numerous storage spaces

The bad:

  • Handling
  • Soft brake pedal
  • Captain’s chairs available only on higher-end trims
  • Touchscreen multimedia system usability

8 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2020 Honda Pilot trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2023

Notable features

  • New Black Edition trim level
  • Seats up to eight people in three rows
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • One engine, two available transmissions
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity available
  • Second-row captain's chairs available
See also: How Do Car Seats Fit in a 2020 Honda Pilot?

2020 Honda Pilot review: Our expert's take

By Brian Wong

The verdict: The Honda Pilot’s age is showing, and though it retains some strengths (storage space and value), what it really needs to catch up with its class are updates to its technology and interior.

Versus the competition: The Pilot isn’t a bad vehicle, but in a class this cutthroat, average isn’t good enough.

Much of the context we use to evaluate a vehicle comes from the rest of its class, and a strong set of contenders makes success an uphill battle, especially for a model that hasn’t been redesigned in a while — such as the 2020 Honda Pilot three-row SUV. The Pilot did get a refresh for 2019 that focused on updates to the multimedia system and the powertrain, both pain points that needed to be improved. A year later, we put the 2020 Pilot (which is basically identical, save for a new trim level) through its paces in a rigorous competition against six other three-row SUVs, and the results of our 2020 3-Row SUV Challenge were not flattering for the Pilot: It ranked last our of seven vehicles.

Related: Which SUVs Have the Most Cargo Space in 2019?

That said, not all last-place finishes are equal. The distance between the Pilot and the sixth-place Chevrolet Traverse was just 3 points, and the fifth-place Subaru Ascent was only 2 points beyond that — on a nearly 600-point scale — making it a virtual tie among these three vehicles. Unlike some last-place finishers in other Challenges, I think you could own a Pilot and be happy with it; it still has merits, though its age is showing in this rapidly changing segment. Atop our Challenge were the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride, two brand-new models that feel like evolutions of the Pilot.

The Pilot’s biggest change for 2020 is the addition of a Black Edition, which now sits at the top of the model hierarchy. That gives the Pilot six trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, Elite and Black Edition. The Black Edition is mostly an appearance package designed to make the family hauler look more menacing, though why you’d want that is a question I cannot answer. Our test vehicle was an Elite and, as such, came with most of the features you can get on a Pilot, no additional accessories and a sticker price of $49,215 (including destination charges).

honda-pilot-2020-12-engine--exterior.jpg 2020 Honda Pilot | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

How It Drives

Under the hood is a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 262 pounds-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is a $2,000 option on all models up through the Touring (AWD is standard on the Elite and Black Edition). There are two available transmissions: a six-speed automatic on the EX-L with navigation and below, and a nine-speed automatic on the Touring and above. The nine-speed was the focus of many of the 2019 changes, and driving it a year later, I’d say the changes worked for the most part. The Pilot starts smoothly and is a bit more responsive in passing maneuvers. It won’t ever rip off shifts or approach anything resembling fun, but in this vehicle class, there’s a baseline of powertrain competency we’re looking for and the Pilot meets it.

There’s the tiniest bit of fuel economy benefit with the nine-speed transmission, which is EPA-rated at 20/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined for FWD models and 19/26/22 mpg with AWD. With the six-speed, those figures drop slightly to 19/27/22 mpg (FWD) and 18/26/21 mpg (AWD).

The Pilot is more than qualified for day-to-day duty as its ride quality and overall comfort are enough to get by. At highway speeds, the cabin isn’t quite as isolated and you can hear a good amount of wind and road noise, but it’s still easy enough to hold a conversation. Steering is on the numb side, but at low speeds, the level of resistance drops nicely, making the Pilot easier to navigate around parking lots and driveways. If I had to sum up the way the Pilot drove, it is, in a word, fine — which is less of a slight than you’d think.

Interior and Multimedia

This is where the Pilot really shows its age, especially with its styling. The dashboard is awash in black plastics, and combined with the black leather upholstery in our test vehicles, it looked like it was styled by Darth Vader. Interior materials fall behind the best in the class, though the front seats remain quite comfortable for both short and long journeys. Another highlight from the front of the Pilot is a large storage bin between the seats and a large wireless charging pad.

The Pilot’s second row offers a helpful quick-release button on the back of the captain’s chairs, which come standard on the Elite, providing seating for seven. (All lower trim levels come with a bench seat standard, adding a center position and boosting maximum seating to eight occupants; the quick-release button is available with bench seats on the EX trim and above.) A quick press of the button folds and slides either seat forward for easier access to the third row, and the seats require little effort to move around. Once you get back to the third row, it’s a bit tight and has a high floor, though headroom is actually pretty good. It’s not a place to keep adult-sized passengers for longer trips, but it’ll do in a pinch.

For younger passengers, meanwhile, the Pilot was one of the two lowest-rated vehicles in the Challenge when it came to accommodating child-safety seats, scoring a few B grades and two C’s to go along with three A’s in our Car Seat Check. For comparison, the Pilot’s top-rated competitor in this category, the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas, got straight A’s.

Like the transmission, the Pilot’s multimedia system got an upgrade in 2019 — but while it’s improved, it isn’t fixed. The addition of a volume knob removed a major annoyance, but the system is still convoluted and hard to use; simple tasks can feel anything but. Thankfully, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on every Pilot with an 8-inch touchscreen. Whenever I got in to drive the Pilot more than a few minutes, I plugged my phone in immediately.

Safety Features

The Honda Sensing suite of safety technology that comes standard on all Pilot models includes adaptive cruise control, forward automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and road departure mitigation. Jump up just one trim level from the base and you’ll also get a blind spot warning system.

There are a few pain points with these systems, which all worked as advertised but lacked some of the features you’ll find in some competitors. The adaptive cruise control system doesn’t work at low speeds; dip below 20 mph and it just shuts off, making it less useful for anyone stuck in slow-moving traffic. Similarly, the lane-keeping system does a good job keeping you in your lane but doesn’t feature the more precise lane-centering, so the Pilot kind of bounces between the lines without more intentional intervention.

We also found that the forward automatic braking system registered many false positives in a variety of situations. For whatever reason, the Pilot would be driving along uneventfully when suddenly a big red “Brake” notification and a loud series of beeps would disturb the peace. This happened in traffic, out of traffic, with no other vehicles around, on city streets and on the highway. The Pilot didn’t actually brake itself, but the alerts were an annoyance — one that could lead people to turn the system off, which defeats the purpose of having it.


The Pilot’s last-place finish in our Challenge feels harsh. It really isn’t a bad SUV, and its score was very close to the two vehicles that finished directly ahead of it. But compared with the upper half of finishers in the test, the Pilot fell short in pretty much every category. It really needs to step up its game if it wants to rise to the level of the Palisade and Telluride and become competitive again. A higher-quality interior and improved multimedia system would be great places to start.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Brian Wong
Former L.A. Bureau Chief Brian Wong is a California native with a soft spot for convertibles and free parking. Email Brian Wong

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior design 4.5
  • Performance 4.2
  • Value for the money 4.1
  • Exterior styling 4.5
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews


Don’t Buy

A 2020 and already had to change the injectors and now it has a transmission transfer seal leak. I had a 2019 honda pilot wish I upgraded for this one when it stopped working due to problems with the injectors also. Will never do business with Honda again.


Not good enough

Coming off my 190,000 mile 2012 Honda Pilot that I had purchased new, I had high hopes for this SUV. It's ok. My major complaints are it shakes the wheel and "BRAKE" comes on whenever I'm on a curve with another vehicle coming from the other directions. We are both in our lane. In slippery conditions this can cause an accident. My other complaint is the popping/cracking noise. It did it first at 58,000 miles. They replaced the wiring harness under the dash and it went away......for 6 months. Now it's crackling/popping much worse, the radio goes dead and won't work again until the car is turned off and started again. I've read about this going back to at least 2016. I don't know how they can't get this right. I'll try a Toyota next. Honda quality over-rated.


It is a juck

No radio x2brakes shake if you go down a big hill for a long time the car starts to shake at a slow speed before it shifts

See all 156 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Honda True
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
60 months/60,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
More than 12 months or 12,000 miles from their original in-service date, with 80,000 miles or fewer at time of vehicle delivery.
Basic warranty terms
5 years/86,000 miles
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
182-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Compare the competitors

See all 2020 Honda Pilot articles