The third-generation, 2016 Honda Pilot catches up with the key players in the three-row midsize crossover class, of which it is a founding member.
High on the list of improvements to the new Pilot, unveiled Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show, is to the style of Honda’s mainstream SUV. The company emphasizes words such as “modern,” “sleek” and “premium,” making sure you forget all about the blocky old model. It clearly takes inspiration from the Honda CR-V and HR-V from the front, to good effect. Newly available LED projector lights and daytime running lights class things up, too.
The real story with the Pilot has always come from inside, though, where there are a number of changes to keep it competitive with what rivals such as the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer offer. Uplevel Pilot models will feature second-row captains chairs, which admittedly reduce total capacity from 8 people to 7.
Those models will also benefit from niceties never before found in a Pilot, such as a panoramic moonroof (more of a two sunroof deal like you used to get on a Toyota Previa), ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats and a heated steering wheel. Keen observers might notice pieces taken from Acura products, like a TLX-ish push-button gear selector and the second-row seat-slide system from the MDX. There are five USB ports, along with a 115-volt outlet and an HDMI port, so clearly Honda knows its customers will have every electronic imaginable.
An 8-inch touchscreen powered by Android comes up front, a similar unit to what’s already been shown in the newer Civic, CR-V and HR-V models (and earning scorn for lack of physical controls), while a 9-inch rear entertainment system will be available. Safety tech also improves with Honda’s first “Road Departure Mitigation” system, along with the now-typical blind-spot monitoring and lane departure prevention features.
Honda put the third-generation Pilot on a diet, shedding roughly 300 pounds over the outgoing model, according to the company. The car will use the latest version of the company’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter V6 engine, now badged Earth Dreams, with base cars getting a 6-speed automatic and more expensive models earning a 9-speed automatic – both replacing the previous 5-speed unit.
The Pilot will also boast from start-stop technology. The 2016 Pilot is expected to go on sale this summer and become a staple in suburban housing communities shortly after.