By Cars.com EditorsMay 18, 2015
About the video
Cars.com’s Jennifer Geiger takes a look at the 2016 Honda Pilot.
(car starting) This is the 2016 Honda Pilot. When it debuted at the Chicago Auto Show, it really surprised us for its total styling departure. Gone were the blocky, trucky lines replaced by really sleek, modern looking angles.
We already know the new Pilot looks great but how is it behind the wheel? After spending a full day driving it, I can tell you it's better in just about every way. The previous Pilot felt really slow, loud and cumbersome to drive. The new model changes all that and it has much more refined road manners. The newly optional nine speed automatic promptly and smoothly ticks off shifts for strong low end power. And unlike some other nine speeds, it doesn't feel too busy or awkwardly hunt around for gears. Fuel efficiency is up this year. With both the standard six speed automatic and the new available nine speed automatic, Honda says highway fuel economy is up by two miles per gallon. On the road the new Pilot is much quieter with better isolation from wind and road noise. The ride is also smoother for better overall ride comfort. Handling is still not a Pilot strong suit, however. Lean around corners is pronounced but it never feels sloppy. Honda completely redesigned the interior of the Pilot. and it was in real need of an extreme make-over. Gone is all of the cheap plastic that lined the dash. In its place has a lot of soft touch materials and some pops of interesting materials like this glossy black plastic trim. Also new to the cabin is an electronic gear shifter. I find that it looks kind of cool with the button layout but it's really not very easy to use or ergonomically placed. It's, it's kind of awkward. Another win for this cabin is the large, clear eight inch multimedia touch screen. It's easy to use. It has an a Garmin navigation system with clear graphics. 3D setup if you want. One of the pitfalls is that it is operated via the touch responsive buttons. I did not have a problem with them. I find them very responsive and prompt. Other editors have questioned whether this is a good system. Small item storage is really good. There's a really large center console with a small partition in the middle. There's two cup holders up front and then there's also some storage in the door and more bottle holders on the door. The Pilot comes standard with a second row bench. These two captain's chairs are a new option for 2016. They're only available on top trim levels, however, but they're very comfortable. They slide back and forth and they also recline. Other new features for this cabin are a panoramic sunroof, newly available for 2016 and heated rear seats. One really great family feature is this button right here. With one touch, it slides the second row seat forward so you can easily access the third row. The opening to the third row is still pretty small but Honda says that they increased it by over an inch. They also said the step in is lower but it's still pretty hard to get back to the third row for adults. Third row headroom is actually pretty good. I fit pretty well back here. Leg room isn't bad either, especially if the second row is slid forward to accommodate third row occupants. What I don't really like is this third row bench seat. It's firm, it's flat and it actually is raised up higher, so you sit in kind of an uncomfortable knees up position, which is actually pretty common for three row SUVs. What I really like about this third row is the extra set of latch anchors back here for car seats. It has two anchors for one car seat and then also has three top tether anchors making this third row really versatile for families with kids in car seats. So the cargo area behind the third row has a couple of neat features. There's two bins, one on each side. They're plastic lined. Good for carrying a plant without making a mess. Also there's under floor storage. You pop this up and there's a storage well. You can also take this out, flip it around, pop it in, and you have a hard plastic surface good for carrying muddy shoes. Makes for easy cleanup. Room behind the third row is actually pretty competitive. With 18.5 cubic feet, it offers a little bit more than the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder but less than the Chevrolet Traverse and the Ford Explorer. The 2016 Honda Pilot is efficient, comfortable, stylish and versatile. It should be a win for Honda and a win for families shopping the three row SUV class. (upbeat music) (trunk slamming)