$24,818 - $37,441

2018 Honda Pilot Performance Review


Performance: 8.5

The 2018 Honda Pilot offers capable performance overall. There are two transmissions to choose from, and both make good use of the standard V6 engine’s ample power. The Pilot prioritizes ride comfort over handling agility. While nobody would characterize it as sporty, the Pilot feels relatively composed around turns. Fuel economy is average for the class.

  • The flip side to the Pilot's ungainly handling is a comfortable ride. This SUV's suspension smooths out bumps with composure. Some road imperfections will rock the Pilot from side to side, but overall a trip in the Pilot is uneventful." -- Consumer Reports
  • "It doesn't take long behind the wheel of Honda's 2017 Pilot SUV to determine this might just be the best-riding, best-handling 3-row family transport under $40,000." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "We wouldn't go so far as to call a three-row crossover nimble, but for the segment, it's certainly one of the least cumbersome to drive, with a smooth, willing powertrain to boot." -- Edmunds (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Pilot comes standard with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and the Touring and Elite trims come with a nine-speed automatic. With each transmission, the Pilot accelerates quickly and quietly. The optional nine-speed automatic provides more aggressive shifting for quicker sprints.

Fuel economy with the Pilot is typical for the class. With the six-speed transmission and front-wheel drive, the Pilot returns 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Upgrade to the nine-speed transmission, and efficiency improves by 1 mpg in the city. With available all-wheel drive, both city and highway fuel economy drop by 1 mpg.

  • "The Pilot's powertrain is a strong point, providing smooth, abundant acceleration and oodles of reserve power under your foot. The engine is quiet and sounds polished and eager all the way to high revs. The six-speed automatic transmission that comes on most Pilots is smooth and unobtrusive." -- Consumer Reports
  • "You can find more powerful competitors, even hybrid options, but for our tastes the 280-horsepower V6 is more than adequate. … We wouldn't classify the Pilot's performance as sporty, but rather overwhelmingly confident." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The engine feels strong and responsive, not overburdened like some of the competition. Acceleration from a stop and for passing is more than adequate. … The standard six-speed auto shifts just as nicely, but the nine-speed's wider gear ratio spread allows for more aggressive acceleration." -- Motor Trend (2016)

Handling and Braking

One of the Pilot’s greatest strengths is its comfortable ride. Large road imperfections transfer into the cabin, but the Pilot’s suspension easily soaks up run-of-the-mill bumps. Handling is competent but certainly not agile. Body lean creeps in as turns get tighter, but the Pilot maintains enough composure for the daily drive. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "Granted, you don't expect a three-row SUV to handle like a Porsche. But even compared to its peers, the Pilot feels every bit like the boat that it is. It doesn't take much for body lean to pile on. The steering is not very swift in response, and vague. All of that combines to make the Pilot very reluctant in the corners." -- Consumer Reports
  • "On the road, the 2017 Pilot drives a lot like a minivan, and we mean that as a compliment. Not spry or sporty, the Pilot is instead comfortable and surefooted, offering a well-controlled driving experience without the cumbersome feeling you sometimes get in larger SUVs." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Big bumps affecting all four wheels can surprise the Pilot, but smaller obstacles don't seem to disturb things as much. It's a segment leader in ride comfort." -- Edmunds (2017)

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