Piloting practicality

2013 Honda Pilot Touring Review

By Miranda Lightstone
2013 Honda Pilot Touring Review

Summary Rating: 77%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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Utilitarian utopia
We’ve all heard of the acronym K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) -- heck, I refer to it every day when I write -- but it’s not often such a “rule” crosses over into the automotive realm. The more the merrier seems to be very carmaker’s motto these days, as they load their vehicles with gadgets and hi-tech bits galore and trick out the exterior with endless design elements.

Well, such is not the case with the 2013 Honda Pilot. And I’m so grateful that’s the case. This is a plain and simple vehicle, and that’s fine. It does the job perfectly as is, without all the bells and whistles, without the hoopla and fanfare. It just is; and that’s just grand.


What is the Honda Pilot?
First released in 2002 as a ’03 model, the Honda Pilot was brought into Honda’s lineup as an answer to the growing demands for larger family-friendly vehicles that offered seating for 8 people.

Large and in charge, the Honda Pilot was built with a purpose: to be practical and move people and goods, and that’s precisely what it does. While it’s only seen real changes once over the past decade, that’s not necessarily a bad thing either; the Honda Pilot owner knows what he likes and he wants to keep it that way.

Technicalities

Across the board (read: all five models available) the 2013 Honda Pilot sports the same powertrain, a 3.5L i-VTEC V6 that’s good for 250 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, which is then coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission. And, yes, that’s the same engine the Pilot sported when it first showed up to play the game. While it might seem dated, it still very much does the job. Available in 2WD or 4WD, the Pilot’s five trims offer something for everyone and in a wide price range.

As far as pricing goes, the 2013 Honda Pilot starts in the mid-$30k range (LX 2WD) and can travel all the way up to the $50k mark for the top-of-the-line Touring model (which was my tester for the week). Changes across models are purely cosmetic (and 2WD vs 4WD) as the engine and transmission remains the same for all.

2013 Honda Pilot Touring engine
Across the board (read: all five models available) the 2013 Honda Pilot sports the same powertrain, a 3.5L i-VTEC V6 that’s good for 250 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, which is then coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Driving the Honda Pilot
Piloting the Pilot (how clever am I?) is great. Sure, it’s a larger vehicle, but there’s something about a Honda that makes them great cars to drive, no matter what. From the Fit to the Ridgeline, they all offer a great time behind the wheel. The 2013 Honda Pilot is no exception.

While the steering did feel a bit disconnected at times, I still felt like the Pilot was ready and willing to do as I requested and go where I wanted.

Despite its size and near 2,091kg (4,600lb) weight, the Pilot feels light on its feet, and the 3.5L V6 performs when asked to. Whether accelerating to pass on the highway or simply cruising at leisurely speeds, the Pilot takes it all in stride -- and can take seven of your closest friends along for the ride, too.

With Honda’s Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive system (VTM-4) available on four of five models, the 2013 Honda Pilot has the capability to be the ideal cottage-country hauler as well as a city dweller from Monday-Friday.

2013 Honda Pilot Touring right side view
Despite its size and near 2,091kg (4,600lb) weight, the Pilot feels light on its feet, and the 3.5L V6 performs when asked to. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Ins and Outs of the Honda Pilot
Inside and out, the Honda Pilot has seen very few changes over the last few years. The 2013 Honda Pilot sees a bit of a front fascia update with a beefier bumper, and inside now sports Honda’s i-MID entertainment system, but that’s about it.

Hard plastics abound in the Honda Pilot, and that’s a nod towards its utilitarian nature (easy to clean, easy to maintain). Seats are comfortable in all rows, even all the way in the third row where I sat with another, much taller, colleague. We both had plenty of headroom (not so much legroom for him), but we would not have been comfortable with a third squeezed between us.

As is the case with any good Honda, the storage compartments are endless no matter where you are in the vehicle, and with both rows down the 2013 Honda Pilot offers up 2,464 litres of space for all your goodies. A 60/40 split for both the second and third rows also means piling in snowboards and friends for a winter weekend getaway is also possible.

2013 Honda Pilot Touring inside
Seats are comfortable in all rows, even all the way in the third row where I sat with another, much taller, colleague. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)

Comparing the Honda Pilot
When it comes to the 2013 Honda Pilot’s competitors, they all pretty much do the same things and do them well. However, where the Honda falls behind is in its lack of renewal. The Ford Explorer is recently redesigned and looks fantastic, and even the Chevrolet Traverse sports an updated look and feel when compared to the Pilot.

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