1.08.2009

Honda Pilot Touring Review




The handwriting was on the wall when Honda nailed the minivan concept with the current-generation Odyssey a few years back: No segment is safe from Honda superiority. It's just a matter of time.

Well, other segments (full-size pickups) will have to wait, but here's some more bad news for Detroit: The new Pilot is a home run.

As big a Honda fan as I've been for the past 25 years, I was underwhelmed by the first-gen Pilot. It was competent, but little else. The new '09 had me won over in about ten minutes.

Time for an objectivity test: My wife. For some reason I've never understood, Hondas leave her cold. She just doesn't like them.

She gets in the Pilot. We drive for 10 minutes, she turns and says:

"I want one of these."

Our two teenagers, who are a bit jaded after 11 and a half years of climbing in new cars every single week, agreed: Go buy one, Dad.


After a full week, no change in anybody's opinion. The only thing I don't like is the sea of buttons on the center stack (which has been a bad habit of Honda and Acura cars since the tech thing got rolling). But I could live with it.

The Touring model is the top of the line Pilot...coming standard with leather, navigation, a DVD entertainment system, a 512-watt, 10-speaker, USB friendly AM-FM-XM 6-CD premium audio system with 10 speakers, Bluetooth, a three-zone climate control, 8-way adjustable power driver's seat, memory seat and mirrors, a 4-way passenger power seat, heated front seats....

This could go on all day. "Loaded" would be an understatement. We'll cut to the chase:

$39,995.

No options. All standard. Add $670 for destination charges, and it's $40,665. Or about 10 grand less than any comparably equipped American 3-row SUV.

And although it looks light on paper, the 250 horsepower 3.5 liter SOHC 24-Valve V6 has plenty of power...and nudges the EPA ratings up to 16 city/22 highway (combined EPA rating: 18).

The economy and handling of a midsize SUV...with the capacity of a fullsize. All with Honda's typically stunning execution.

No, it's not pretty, and there are all those buttons on the center stack, but that's nowhere near enough to tip the scales the other way. If you're at all thinking SUV, you've got to test drive the new Pilot.

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