2020 Honda Pilot

2020 Honda Pilot Review: A V6 Up Front And Eight In The Back.

by Adam Lynton

It's been a while since the Honda Pilot has seen extensive work done to keep the model up-to-date, but that doesn't mean it is falling behind the pack. With a capable 280-horsepower V6 engine under the hood and remarkably responsive handling for a three-row midsize SUV, the Pilot is still a firm contender against rivals like the Mazda CX-9 or Kia Telluride. Some rivals will beat the Honda's 16.5 cubic feet of cargo volume, while others come with more standard features like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but few are as well-rounded as the Pilot with its spacious interior and myriad safety features under the Honda Sensing umbrella. And, once you start climbing the trim levels to access the more advanced features, its weaknesses flake away to reveal a strong contender in the midsize SUV segment. With competitive mileage figures, ample towing capabilities, and seating for up to eight, the crossover is as comfortable around town as it is in the great wide open. When looking for a reliable, well-appointed family SUV, there is no reason that the Honda Pilot shouldn't be one of your first considerations.

2020 Honda Pilot Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 Pilot?

The Honda Pilot enters 2020 with no serious changes. However, the line-up has been expanded to include the stylish Black Edition trim, which comes equipped with all the high-tech features of the Elite and a sleek all-black exterior, unique badging, embossed front seats, and red interior accents.

Pros and Cons

  • Good handling dynamics for a bulky eight-seater
  • Smooth ride quality
  • Plenty of standard advanced safety features
  • Ample cabin storage with adequate trunk space
  • Competitive towing capacity and fuel economy
  • Minivan-like appearance might be unappealing to some
  • Upper-tier trims can get pricey
  • Limited customization options
  • Dated, uninspired interior

2020 Honda Pilot Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$31,650
EX
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$34,530
EX-L
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,960
Touring
3.5-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$42,720
Elite
3.5-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$48,220

Pilot Exterior

Despite its classification as a midsize SUV, the Pilot bears a strong resemblance to the Honda Odyssey minivan. Automatic LED low-beam headlights frame the grille, which is surprisingly minimalist, with the manufacturer's logo resting between two thick horizontal bars. Upper trims get full LED head- and taillights, along with LED fog lights, and a power-sliding, or full panoramic, moonroof. The Black Edition lends a stately Edgar Allan Poe-vibe to the large family cruiser by coating almost every surface with black accents, including the wheels, grille, and door handles. LED daytime running lights come standard on every trim, and 20-inch alloys on upper trims replace the 18-inch wheels on lesser models.

2020 Honda Pilot Front View Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Front View 1 Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Front View 2 Honda
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Dimensions

The midsize three-row SUV is smaller than you might expect, standing only 196.5 inches long, with a 111-inch wheelbase. Not accounting for the mirrors, the Pilot is a broad 78.6 inches, with an overall height of 70.6 inches. The Honda's mild off-roading capabilities are made possible by its ground clearance of 7.3 inches, approach angle of 19.7 degrees, and departure angle of 20.8 degrees. The lightest model, a base LX with front-wheel-drive, weighs in at 4,036 lbs, while a fully loaded Elite, only weighs a few hundred pounds more at 4,319 lbs. This is a bit lighter than the heaviest models of rivals like the Kia Telluride, which can max out at 4,482 lbs.

  • Length 196.5 in
  • Wheelbase 111.0 in
  • Height 70.6 in
  • Max Width 78.6 in
  • Front Width 66.3 in
  • Rear Width 66.3 in

Exterior Colors

Eight colors comprise the palette for the Pilot, with availability depending on trim level, and paint choice affecting the remaining choices for the interior color. The base LX is available in Crystal Black or Platinum White, while the metallic options are Modern Steel or Lunar Silver. Obsidian Blue and Deep Scarlet expand the pearl paints when you step up to the EX, while another metallic option, Steel Sapphire, is also added. The EX-L trim adds only Black Forest pearl paint to the palette but doesn't sacrifice any options. The Black Edition is restricted to only Crystal Black.

  • Lunar Silver Metallic
  • Crystal Black Pearl
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Platinum White Pearl
  • Steel Sapphire Metallic
  • Deep Scarlet Pearl
  • Obsidian Blue Pearl
  • Black Forest Pearl

Pilot Performance

With only a 280-hp V6 engine available, regardless of the trim you choose, performance is pretty standard across the range. That is not, however, to say that performance is average. Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox on the lower trims, and a nine-speed automatic on the upper trims, this powertrain is more than capable of moving the heavy SUV, and with surprising quickness at that. Put your foot down, and you'll find the Pilot capable of sprinting up to 60 mph in a fraction over seven seconds. This may be only a smidge quicker than the Kia Telluride, but it's a full second slower than the top-tier Ford Explorer. However, while the Honda SUV may be quick, it's no stronger than rivals. All three aforementioned midsize crossovers are capable of towing up to 5,000 lbs. You will need to opt for the available all-wheel-drive on the Pilot, though, as the standard front-wheel drivetrain can only manage 3,500 lbs.

2020 Honda Pilot Front View Driving Honda
2020 Honda Pilot In Motion Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Engine Bay Honda

Engine and Transmission

A single engine powers the entire range of Honda Pilot SUVs. The 3.5-liter V6 engine develops 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque for the front wheels on the lower trim levels, while the fully-loaded trims come standard with the optional all-wheel drivetrain. The low-tier trims, the LX, EX, and EX-L, come equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, while a nine-speed automatic gearbox rows the gears for the more premium Touring, Elite, and Black Edition models.

This powertrain delivers more than enough power to get the bulky SUV around town in a relatively brisk manner. You may have to step on the pedal from time to time to get enough power to merge or pass on the highway, but the Pilot is seldom downright lacking in quickness. The nine-speed automatic is particularly smooth, seamlessly shifting up and down through the ratios and making the most of the potent V6.

  • Engine
    3.5-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 9-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The Honda Pilot, despite its chunky proportions and hefty weight, is remarkably athletic on the road without sacrificing off-road capability. That's not to say it's genuinely sporty, but it's more so than rivals like the Ford Explorer or Hyundai Palisade.

While the Pilot can handle itself off-road, it is primarily designed to be a family-focused town driver, and its steering matches this application. It's light, allowing for quick low-speed maneuvers, but it doesn't offer loads of road feel or heft, even at higher speeds. Where the Honda SUV does surprise is in its handling. For a three-row SUV, it is not as ponderous as one would expect, handling corners with unusual grace. You won't want to take corners at break-neck speeds, but you can feel confident leaning into them a little without worrying that the plethora of safety features will start blaring their warnings. The Intelligent Variable Torque Management is particularly helpful when it comes to keeping the SUV composed on rugged terrain, although its tight approach and departure angles keep it from leading the segment off-road; it is a crossover after all.

Ride quality is quite good, but we recommend you stick with the 18-inch wheels where possible, as the larger wheels do a much worse job of absorbing road imperfections. Road and wind noise is also managed well thanks to the well-built and -damped cabin.

Pilot Gas Mileage

Fuel economy with the Honda Pilot is relatively on par with other V6-powered three-row SUVs, like the Kia Telluride. Equipped with front-wheel-drive and the six-speed automatic gearbox, the Pilot gets an EPA-estimated 19/27/22 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. Swapping out the drivetrain for AWD sees the mileage drop to 18/26/21 mpg. The nine-speed automatic transmission is marginally more efficient, improving the figures to 20/27/23 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 19/26/22 mpg with all-wheel drive. By comparison, the V6 powered Telluride gets 20/26/23 mpg in its front-wheel-drive guise, while the Mazda CX-9, with a turbocharged inline-four engine, gets 22/28/24 mpg. Equipped with a 19.5-gallon tank of regular unleaded gasoline, the Honda Pilot can cover up to 448 miles between gas station visits, in its most efficient form.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    19.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/27 mpg
* 2020 Honda Pilot LX 2WD

Pilot Interior

The interior is far more spacious than you'd expect from a three-row midsize SUV, with the Honda boasting space for up to eight passengers. The manufacturer uses high-quality materials and build-quality is unimpeachable. Style choices are a bit more questionable, though, with only toned down interior colors offered and no particularly eye-catching elements around the cabin. However, this may appeal to buyers of family cars who want to keep things simple and minimize cleaning efforts. The controls for the long list of available features are laid out well, and the infotainment system is particularly easy to use, although it lacks some of the advanced functionality today's buyers are expecting from modern vehicles. While trunk space isn't overly impressive for the segment, cabin small-item storage is innovative and extensive.

2020 Honda Pilot Dashboard Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Steering Wheel Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Steering Wheel Controls Honda
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Seating and Interior Space

Few midsize SUVs can boast the spacious interior of the Honda Pilot, with three rows of seats accommodating up to eight passengers, unless you opt for the second-row captain's chairs, which reduce seating capacity to seven. This option is, however, only available on the Touring trim, while the captain's chairs are standard on the Elite and Black Edition models. Headroom is ample for all but the tallest of adults in the first two rows, while the third row manages to be quite generous on this front. Legroom is a bit more restrictive in the second row, while the third row will not accommodate adults comfortably. Luckily, the third row is placed lower than usual and is easily accessible thanks to the power-sliding second-row seats, although the gap left to access the rearmost seats is still a little tight. Getting in and out of the first two rows is also pretty easy because of the large doors and well-positioned seats. Driver visibility is quite good too, thanks to the seat position and relatively short hood, but rear visibility and blind-spots can be a problem - the rearview camera and available blind-spot monitor help here.

  • Seating capacity
    8-seater
  • Front Leg Room 40.9 in
  • Front Head Room 40.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 40.2 in

Interior Colors and Materials

While comfortable and functional, the interior of the Pilot is not overly stylish nor luxurious. Cloth upholstery is standard on the LX and EX trims in Black, Gray, or Beige, depending on compatibility with the exterior paint you choose. This same restriction applies to the upper trims, which share the same color palette, although the EX-L upgrades the upholstery to leather, and the Elite and Black edition get perforated leather. As one would expect, the Black Edition offers no color choices beyond classic Black, although it sports unique embossed front seats, red stitching, and red accent lighting. Besides the seats, the dashboard and door panels feature soft-touch plastic surfaces.

Pilot Trunk and Cargo Space

While by no means class-leading, the trunk space in the Pilot is more than adequate for daily needs or even long weekend getaways. With all the seats in place, 16.5 cubic feet of space is available. This is less than rivals like the Kia Telluride and Ford Explorer, which offer 21 cubic feet each. Still, the Honda SUV also allows you to fold down the third and/or second row of seats to free up as much as 83.9 cubic feet of space, trailing behind the class-leaders by only around five cubic feet. However, the cargo floor can be adjusted to free up more space, bringing the Pilot more in line with its rivals. The base cargo capacity should easily handle daily errands like grocery shopping, with enough space for about a dozen shopping bags. When it comes to carrying larger items, the 46.8 cubic feet of space available with only the third-row seats folded down should accommodate several full-size suitcases or over a dozen carry-ons. It's also worth noting that opting for the seven-seat configuration will result in lower overall cargo capacity, due to the immobile second-row center console.

The SUV excels at small-item storage around the cabin, with an impressive 16 cupholders provided amongst the three rows of seats. These complement the generous door pockets, standard glove compartment, and center armrest cubby to swallow up all your pocket knick-knacks with ease.

2020 Honda Pilot Luggage Space Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Trunk Space Honda
2020 Honda Pilot Interior Overview Honda

Pilot Infotainment and Features

Features

Despite being an affordable SUV, the Pilot is focused on comfort and family. This means it naturally comes with an abundance of features to keep you and your loved ones happy and safe. While the base model may get manual front seats, it does offer a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a driver information display. Other standard features include keyless entry and ignition, and two 12-volt power outlets. The Honda Sensing safety suite is installed on every trim and comprises forward collision avoidance, road departure warning, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Upgrading to the EX sees the driver get a ten-way power seat with lumbar support, as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The front seats gain heating, and the second-row seats get a one-touch slide function for easier access to the third row. Tri-zone climate control keeps everyone comfortable, while remote engine start can get the car ready before you even enter. The EX-L further improves comfort by heating the rear seats and wrapping the steering wheel and shifter in leather, complementing the leather upholstery. It also sees the installation of a power-tilting moonroof. The Touring adds a 115-volt power outlet, as well as front and rear sonar, while the Elite and Black Edition get premium perforated leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and ventilated front seats. These models upgrade the moonroof to a panoramic moonroof, as well.

Infotainment

The infotainment suite is up to date and easy to use, although it does require you to upgrade to higher trims to get some features that rivals include as standard. The entry-level LX comes equipped with a five-inch LCD screen with Bluetooth, two USB ports, and an auxiliary audio input cable. The standard sound system comprises seven speakers. The suite is upgraded on the EX with an eight-inch touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, and SiriusXM. Built-in navigation is only added to the setup from the Touring trim upwards, as well as HondaLink Services and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Furthermore, those in the second-row seats can enjoy the 10.2-inch rear entertainment system, which supports Blu-Ray and HDMI input. Also included from this trim level upwards is a ten-speaker premium sound system with multi-zone auto. The only standard features added on the upper-most Elite and Black Edition trims is a wireless charging pad.

Pilot Problems and Reliability

The Honda Pilot receives a reliability score of 80 out of 100 from J.D. Power, which is slightly above average in the segment when it comes to overall dependability. The 2020 model has been subject to a single recall so far for incomplete body welding that may exacerbate injuries in the event of a crash. The 2019 model was recalled for the above issue as well, and for two other problems pertaining to faulty teeth on the timing belt, and for incorrect pillar mounting hole sizes. Honda offers the midsize SUV with a 36,000-mile/36-month limited warranty and a 60,000-mile/60-month powertrain warranty.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Pilot Safety

The NHTSA rates the large SUV at five-stars for overall crash safety, while the IIHS gives the vehicle five top scores of Good and one of Average for a small overlap on the front passenger side. In 2019, the Pilot received the IIHS's Top Safety Pick award.

Key Safety Features

Every Honda Pilot comes equipped with ABS, EBD, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, and six airbags: dual front, front side, and side curtain. The Honda Sensing safety suite also comes standard and includes forward collision avoidance, road departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning. Only available on the higher trim levels is blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2020 Honda Pilot a good SUV?

The three-row midsize SUV segment is becoming more competitive each year. The idea that bigger is better seems to be taking hold, but many buyers don't want to sacrifice the comforts and driving experiences offered by smaller vehicles. Thus, manufacturers are trying to design an SUV that delivers on every front, and the Honda Pilot is a strong contender in this regard.

With space for up to eight passengers, where most three-row SUVs only supply appointments for seven, the Pilot doesn't sacrifice too much on spaciousness for the extra seating. Third-row seats are always cramped in such crossovers, but the Honda's rear seats are surprisingly utilitarian, while the first and second rows are downright spacious. The trunk might not be as cavernous as some rivals but it's certainly not lacking either. The Pilot also manages to be quite nimble on the road, and despite its size and weight, it still delivers a more engaging driving experience than is usual for the segment. When you add in the slew of advanced driver-assistance features that come standard at every trim level with Honda Sensing, the SUV certainly recommends itself as the complete package. However, it does suffer a little on the infotainment front, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto locked behind a trim upgrade. With an attractive price tag, competitive fuel economy, and more than adequate daily usability, the Honda Pilot deserves a place on any prospective buyers' shortlist - preferably near the top.

🚘What's the Price of the 2020 Honda Pilot?

Compared with similarly-sized, three-row SUVs, the Honda Pilot's price tag is downright average. This, despite the plethora of advanced safety features that come standard on every model. Getting your family safely secured in the entry-level LX will cost you a mere $31,550, while the EX, with even more safety features, will only add $2,880 to the bill at $34,430. The mid-tier EX-L manages to stay under the $40k mark at an MSRP of $37,860, but the Touring breaks that trend with its $42,620 price tag. Equipped with the best Honda has to offer, the Elite will cost you $48,120, while the unique styling of the similarly equipped Black Edition asks for $49,620. All-wheel drive can be added to the LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring for an additional $2,000. These prices exclude tax, licensing, registration, and Honda's $1,095 destination charge.

2020 Honda Pilot Models

For 2020, the Honda Pilot is offered to buyers in six trim levels: the LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, Elite, and Black Edition. Under the hood of each model rests a 3.5-liter V6 capable of delivering 280 hp and 262 lb-ft to just the front or all four wheels, although the Elite and Black Edition come equipped with all-wheel-drive as standard. A six-speed automatic transmission rows the gears for the lower trims, while the Touring and upwards get the more refined nine-speed automatic.

The base LX trim rides on 18-inch alloys and lights the way with LED low-beam headlights. It comes well-equipped with a full suite of safety features under the Honda Sensing umbrella. These include lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, road departure warning, and forward collision avoidance. Other standard features include cloth upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, adaptive cruise control, and a driver information display. A five-inch LCD screen controls the infotainment, which consists of a seven-speaker sound system, AM/FM Radio, Bluetooth, and a pair of USB ports.

The EX sees tri-zone climate control and heated front seats installed, while the infotainment suite is upgraded to an eight-inch touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. SiriusXM and HD Radio are also offered. A ten-way power driver's seat with lumbar support is installed, while blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic enhance the safety suite.

The EX-L improves upon the basic luxuries by upholstering the seats, steering wheel, and gear shifter in leather and adding heating to the rear seats. Furthermore, a power moonroof is installed and the tailgate is upgraded with easy power operation.

The nine-speed automatic transmission is equipped on the Touring, which also receives full LED head- and taillights and 20-inch alloy wheels. Front and rear parking sensors round out the Pilot's safety features, and the infotainment suite is enhanced with navigation, HondaLink Services, and 4G Wi-Fi capability. A ten-speaker sound system replaces the standard fare, while a rear-seat 10.2-inch rear entertainment system, supporting Blu-Ray and HDMI input, is installed. The Touring is also the only model with the option of either seven or eight seats.

The top-tier Elite comes upholstered in perforated leather with ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sense wipers, and a panoramic moonroof. At this level, front-wheel-drive is no longer offered and a wireless charging pad is standard inside the cabin.

The special Black Edition shares all the same features as the Elite receives unique exterior and interior styling options. Crystal Black paint coats the body, while the wheels, grille, fog light accents, headlight trim, and handles all receive a blackout treatment. Inside, the front seats and floor are embossed with the Black Edition logo and receive red accents along with the rear seats. Rear accent lighting is installed in the doors, center console, and dash.

See All 2020 Honda Pilot Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

As is quite common among Honda vehicles, few comprehensive feature packages are offered to customize the Pilot. For the most part, if you want the more premium features, you will need to select a higher trim level and pay the full price for the upgrade. However, there are a few instances where you can get upper-tier features as standalone features. The Advanced Navi and RES package ($2,000) available on the EX- L installs a 10.2-inch screen in the roof for rear-set passengers and adds navigation to the infotainment suite. On every model that doesn't naturally include it, you can opt to install rear parking sensors ($500). The same is true for the wireless charging pad ($225). The Touring can choose between the standard three-seat second row or pay $300 to install two captain's chairs, reducing the overall capacity of the cabin from eight to seven.

🚗What Honda Pilot Model Should I Buy?

If money isn't a concern, then the Touring should meet the needs of most SUV buyers. It comes with almost all the creature comforts one could need - tri-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, and a power moonroof - as well as all the safety features the Pilot range has to offer. It also gets the more fuel-efficient nine-speed transmission and doesn't force you to pay extra for all-wheel-drive. However, it is still quite pricey at $42,620. If you have a budget to stick to, as most family-minded SUV buyers do, then you can shave $5k off the bill by dropping down one tier to the EX-L. You lose the standard parking sensors but can get them back for just $500. The infotainment suite is less comprehensive, too, but you get smartphone integration and the EX-L will get you where you're going safely and quickly. It might not be as efficient, but it rides better on the smaller wheels and presents as exceptional value for money.

2020 Honda Pilot Comparisons

Toyota Highlander Toyota
Acura MDX Acura
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Honda Pilot280 hp19/27 mpg$31,650
Toyota Highlander 295 hp21/29 mpg$34,600
Acura MDX 290 hp20/27 mpg$44,500

2020 Honda Pilot vs Toyota Highlander

Newly redesigned for 2020, the Toyota Highlander certainly looks set to give the Honda Pilot some stiff competition. Right off the bat, the Highlander presents buyers with a stronger V6 engine, developing 295 hp, while also offering a more economical hybrid powertrain option. Much like Honda's SUV, the Highlander includes advanced safety features as standard, such as forward collision avoidance and lane departure warning, but it doesn't skimp on infotainment as the Pilot does. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the base Highlander, along with SiriusXM and Amazon Alexa. The large Toyota SUV also offers the choice between seven or eight seating appointments, although it provides slightly less standard cargo space at 16.1 cubic feet. Untested at the time of writing this review, we can't say how the new Highlander will match up to the Pilot in terms of handling, but if the rest of its strengths are anything to go by, it will certainly give the agile Honda crossover a run for its money.

See Toyota Highlander Review

2020 Honda Pilot vs Acura MDX

As a close cousin to the Pilot by way of their shared parent company and underpinnings, the Acura MDX bears a close resemblance to the capable midsize SUV, although it dresses in more stylish attire. Bearing the price tag of a luxury midsize SUV, the MDX naturally aspires to offer a more premium experience to buyers. And it does just that, if you can afford it. The interior is more upscale and stylish than the uninspiring Pilot, though some design choices have cost the MDX some cargo space, offering only 15 cubic feet as standard. Head- and legroom all-round have also taken a minor hit, but the improved comforts and longer list of standard features help to distract from this. The Acura's standard V6 is also marginally stronger than the Pilot's, delivering 290 hp and 267 lb-ft to your choice of the front or all four wheels, but the MDX is also available with a hybrid powertrain. Overall, with better luxury features, comparable spaciousness and utility, and similar handling dynamics, the Acura MDX looks to be the better choice. But overlooking that price tag might be too much of a hurdle for most buyers.

See Acura MDX Review

Honda Pilot Popular Comparisons

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2020 Honda Pilot Video Reviews

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