$13,499 - $18,872

2013 Honda Pilot Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Honda Pilot was new.


Performance: 6.8

For the most part, reviewers are unimpressed by the 2013 Honda Pilot’s power and handling and say there are several better-driving crossovers on the market. While test drivers consider the Pilot a capable performer, it is neither comfortable nor fun to drive.

  • "Despite its size, the 2013 Honda Pilot rides and drives very much like a large sedan. The Pilot's taut suspension limits body roll, squat and dive, yet is not so firm as to punish its passengers with every passing pothole or road distortion." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "From a dynamic standpoint, as my colleagues already have explained, the Pilot is not nearly as satisfying as many other mid-size family crossover vehicles, such as the Mazda CX-9, the new Ford Flex, the Dodge Durango, and the General Motors troika of Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "When it comes to performance, 2012 Honda Pilot is hindered by a lack of power and a hefty curb weight. Off-the-line acceleration is lethargic." -- Edmunds (2012)
  • "Even with a V-6 engine, the driving experience was just OK. There wasn't anything thrilling about it; the Pilot handled and drove capably." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Pilot comes with a 250-horsepower V6 engine paired to a five-speed automatic transmission in all trims. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available. The front-wheel drive Pilot gets an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway and 17/24 mpg with all-wheel drive, which is pretty good for the class.

Reviewers say that power isn’t extraordinary in the Pilot, but think it accelerates adequately in most situations. With only five gears, test drivers feel that the Pilot’s automatic transmission is a bit outdated and has trouble finding the right gear. However, one critic says that it doesn’t negatively affect fuel economy or the Pilot’s performance.

  • "While the standard V6 delivers better fuel economy than the majority of its rivals, it is also the least powerful 6-cylinder of the group. Still, 250-horsepower is sufficient thrust for most daily driving situations." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Pilot has one of the lowest horsepower ratings in the midsize-SUV class, but the engine is incredibly smooth. Its linear throttle makes this somewhat large, heavy vehicle seem faster than it probably is. In an era of 6- and even 8-speed automatic transmissions, Pilot's 5-speed unit feels dated by comparison. It generally works OK, but more than once it gets caught hunting for the right gear." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Pilot's 250-hp V-6 isn't a powerhouse, but it was more than sufficient to pass a couple of slow-moving vehicles on two-lane roads in rural Oakland County over the weekend." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "It may be ‘only’ a five-speed, but that doesn't seem to be hurting its performance or mileage." -- Cars.com (2012)

Handling and Braking

The majority of test drivers note that the 2013 Pilot doesn’t handle well, especially when navigating city streets. Additionally, its steering lacks feel, and one reviewer thinks the brakes are too soft. However, another reviewer says that the Pilot offers car-like handling. One test driver says that its all-wheel drive system allows for a good off-road driving experience.

  • "It's still car-like, and we appreciate the tidy turning radius when negotiating tight spaces. The tires' tall sidewalls are a boon to ride quality, but handling does suffer a bit because they cause the steering to feel slightly lazy. … The brakes have good pedal feel, but simulated panic stops result in quite a bit of nosedive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Although we didn't have a chance to test the Pilot's AWD system in the snow, we did venture up some dirt fire roads and found the VTM-4 AWD setup to be fairly capable of keeping the Pilot moving forward through dirt, loose gravel and mud." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Its heft makes performing any tight, low-speed turns a chore. It's also totally lifeless, so it takes some practice to aim this SUV where you want it to go." -- Automobile Magazine (2012)
  • "The front end, especially on the front-wheel-drive versions, has a heavy, stubborn feel when you're trying to round a fast corner or one that's tighter than you expected. And the brake pedal on two of the three test vehicles felt unpleasantly spongy." -- USA Today (2012)

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