The 2015 Honda Pilot is what I -- an auto critic -- would call a dinosaur. The passenger box-on-wheels is disappearing. The only one left is the Scion xB, and I don’t know that it’ll be around for very long. The likes of the Nissan Cube, Chevrolet Orlando, and Honda Element are all gone and forgotten. The current generation Pilot may not be so easy to forget.
Being a box on wheels has one advantage: loads of easily useable space on the inside. Sadly, from an aesthetic point of view, they’re not always pretty to look at. Sad also as form has largely taken over from function in today’s car world. Consumers want design more than anything, so Honda has launched the all-new 2016 Pilot.
The final iteration of the 3rd generation Pilot soldiers on delivering on every promise it makes. It will get everyone where they want to go, carry all their gear, and all of it while ensconced in safety and comfort. Still a good drive, the 2015 Pilot has only its wrinkles going against it.
That old friend
Over the years, I’ve done a massive amount of mileage in various Pilots (and the Acura MDX, its un-identical twin). I’ve been on a few family vacations, I’ve done a few road trips and, most recently, moved from the other (complicated story) old house into my new digs.
Every time the Honda Pilot finds its way onto my road-test calendar, I tend to settle into a relaxed non-worried state, as I know exactly what to expect from said Pilot. It’ll carry whoever needs a ride, boxes, boxes and more boxes and will never falter, not once.
The pickup may be man’s best automotive friend, but I submit that if a large vehicle were to carry this distinction, the Pilot would be on top of my list.
That box setup means that I can stack anything all the way up to the trunk’s load line from floor to ceiling. The game of trunk-Tetris is pointless, especially with the 2nd and 3rd rows folded down (seating for 8 is standard). Up front, the large bucket seats are roomy and the centre console can be used as a secondary trunk.
Old doesn’t mean dated
The 2015 Pilot sports (as will the 2016, however, slightly revised) Honda’s well known 3.5L V6. As is, it develops a healthy 250 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque. FWD is standard only in the base LX with AWD being an option, while Honda’s Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive system (VTM-4) is found in all other trims. A 5-speed autobox is the only offered transmission.
Although heavily dated -- as in, since 2002 when the 5-speed was introduced (on the Odyssey) -- this powertrain is still competent. It will get the near 2,100kg (4,600+lbs) Pilot up to speed swiftly. The mild annoyance is that the 5-speed is geared from here to Tierra del Fuego so shifts are few and far between. Keep the Pilot well within speed limits and you’ll never notice, as the transmission is quite smooth.
The ride quality is still current. The Pilot’s platform is tried, tested and true as a robust base for a minivan, pickup, and SUV. The independent suspension is firm, limiting body-roll to a very manageable amount without ever punishing cabin dwellers.
The Pilot drives its size, too. Steering is heavily assisted and turning a corner requires a few rotations of the wheel. Visibility, on the other hand, is excellent. Brakes are strong and seemingly fade-resistant; being a Honda and a good handler, I tended to push it a little…
The 2015 Honda Pilot faces off with a huge number of 3-row CUVs and SUVs, all of which I’ve reviewed in the last few years. Among them are the Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder, Hyundai Santa Fe XL, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-9, and I’m leaving a few others out.
The Pilot’s many pros and limited cons still make it a compelling choice even though it is the oldest of the lot, and that says much about the product’s competence. I expect that the 2016 will be even better so competitors, be warned.
A base 2015 Pilot LX 2WD goes for $35,400. AWD tacks on an extra $3,000. My tested SE tipped the pricing scale at $42,800; while a loaded Touring will set you back $49,150.
If Honda throws in a few extra incentives on the 2015 Pilot, it could well turn out to be a good and affordable friend for the next decade.