Honda Pilot, 2013: Workhorse in tough SUV segment

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Nearing the end of its 12th year, the Honda Pilot is the manufacturer’s largest and only three-row sport utility vehicle.

As such and after two new generations and various updates, the 2013 Honda Pilot maintains its image as the workhorse in the Honda lineup.

The 2013 Honda Pilot is the largest SUV in the carmaker's lineup. Images © James Raia/20113
The 2013 Honda Pilot is the largest SUV in the carmaker’s lineup. Images © James Raia/20113

The Honda Crosstour, which debuted in 2010, is longer. But the big, boxy and utilitarian Pilot is built with reinforced frame rails, which assist in towing and light off-road driving. It has plenty of head and legroom and a high roofline for mega hauls from the grocery store or to store camping equipment or to carry lumber to build a new backyard fence.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The 2013 Honda Pilot is much the same as the 2012 model. The exceptions are the addition of a few technology features as standard equipment, like a rearview camera and a redone center stack with an eight-inch navigation screen.

My weekly driver was the 5-door, Touring edition with 4-wheel drive. It’s the most expensive of four available trims. It was equipped with a 250-horsepower, 2.5-liter 24-value, V6 engine with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

As the best-equipped and most expensive Pilot, the Touring edition features the options on the EX-L model like a rear-seat entertainment systems and a voice-activated navigation system as standard. The Touring edition includes driver’s seat memory, parking sensors, further reinforced roof rails and a higher quality sound system.

Driving the Pilot was a mixed experience. For its size, it offered a soft, smooth and quiet ride in city and highway driving. I also liked the high seats that help with an impressive, panoramic view. But the Pilot is not the quickest SUV around, with competitors like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-9 speedsters in comparison.

Nevertheless, the Pilot has cavernous room for cargo, particularly with the second and third row of seats flat. Honda, of course, also has a long-tenured reputation for high resale value throughout the lineup, and that gives the Pilot and edge in the competitive segment.

Likes:

Good visibility.

Plenty of well-designed storage bins.

Plenty of overall room, with good third-row seating.

Good gas mileage averages for segment.

Easy functionality of navigation system.

Dislikes:

Not very sexy.

Acceleration average at best.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Honda Pilot

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.3 seconds.
Airbags (6).
Fuel economy: 17 mpg (city), 24 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA (Frontal Crash), driver, 5 stars; passenger, 4 stars; (Side crash), front seat, five stars; rear seat, four stars; Rollover, four stars.
Horsepower: 250
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $41,270.00
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.honda.com.
Price As tested: $42,100.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Drivetrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“It may not have the Ford Explorer’s off-road credentials or the engaging persona of the Mazda CX-9, but the 2013 Honda Pilot succeeds in its ability to provide practical-minded buyers with dependable, comfortable and efficient transportation for their families.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“The Pilot delivers a rewarding combination of performance, utility, and passenger accommodations. … This remains a well executed crossover and one that’s very much worth of a top spot on any family’s shopping list.” — Consumer Guide.

“The Honda Pilot is a spacious and efficient mid-size crossover.” — Left Lane News

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Honda makes quality vehicles and the Pilot doesn’t do anything to infringe upon the manufacturer’s reputation. But lackluster acceleration provides a pause for SUV buyers in a crowded marketplace.”

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