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2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Honda Pilot

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$31,650 — $49,720 MSRP
344
Photos
SUV
7-8 Seats
21-23 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 8 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

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
2020 Honda Pilot exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2020 Honda Pilot
  • 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

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2020 Honda Pilot Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Today’s large-family vehicle is the three-row SUV. For our 2020 3-Row SUV Challenge, we set out to test a few newcomers and two redesigns along with a couple of strong returning models included in our previous 2017 Three-Row SUV Challenge.

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 ...

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).

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.

Conclusion

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.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.0
135 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(3.8)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(3.8)
Value For The Money
(4.0)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

I have been a happy Honda owner since 1980

by AWK from Cary on October 29, 2020

I enjoy the keyless ignition and remote start. I am slowly getting used to the new safety features. I am starting to like the blind spot warning system. Read full review

(5.0)

Best Car Value for Roominess

by DianaTX from Lubbock, TX on October 22, 2020

When I was in the market for a new vehicle, I wanted one that was economically priced and that seated 8 comfortable. This was very important to me. I originally was looking at and Odyssey but the ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2020 Honda Pilot currently has 4 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2020 Honda Pilot LX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
acceptable

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

Front Crash Prevention
superior

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Headlights

Overall Rating
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Passenger Side

Overall Evaluation
acceptable
Structure and Safety Cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Passenger Side - Driver Injury Measures

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good

Small Overlap Front - Passenger Side - Passenger Injury Measures

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
acceptable
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
marginal
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Honda

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    HondaTrue Certified: More than 1 and less than 6 years/more than 12,000 miles; HondaTrue Certified+: Less than 1 year/less than 12,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    HondaTrue Certified: 12 months/12,000 miles; HondaTrue Certified+: 24 months/50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    7 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    182-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2020 Pilot Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Pilot received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Latch or Latch system

Infant seat

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

Rear-facing convertible

Booster

(second row)

* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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*MSRP and Invoice prices displayed are for educational purposes only, do not reflect the actual selling price of a particular vehicle, and do not include applicable gas taxes or destination charges.