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2018 Honda Pilot

$30,900 - $47,470
Price Range (MSRP)
Honda Pilot

2018 Honda Pilot Review

by Roger Biermann

On the market since 2016, the Honda Pilot may have cemented its place in the midsize family SUV segment, but it's still unable to escape the minivan-styling taunts that follow it when rivals like the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander offer traditionally rugged SUV styling. But styling aside, the Pilot is a great performer, with a 280 horsepower V6 under the hood of each of the five trims. Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive optional and drive is sent through a six-speed automatic gearbox on lower trims with a clunky nine-speed auto on the top-ranking models. A large, refined cabin and seating for up to eight occupants are high points for the 2018 Pilot, while the nine-speed auto and touchscreen infotainment system are frustrating low-points. Yet with prices ranging from $30,900 to $47,470 the Pilot still represents good value for money in the segment.

2018 Honda Pilot Changes: What’s the difference vs 2017 Pilot?

For the 2018 model year, Honda makes no changes to the Pilot, keeping the same features, trims, and configurations as the 2017 model ahead of a likely model refresh next year.

Pros and Cons

  • Strong V6 engine
  • Upscale interior
  • Comfortable seating for eight adults
  • Smooth, pliant ride
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Available nine-speed automatic lacks refinement
  • Minivan styling not to everyone's tastes
  • High levels of safety equipment only standard on higher trims
  • Touchscreen infotainment lacks physical controls
  • Narrow access to third-row seating

Pilot Exterior

2018 Honda Pilot Front View
2018 Honda Pilot Rear View
2018 Honda Pilot Front View
See All 2018 Honda Pilot Exterior Photos

Dimensions

With a basic curb weight of just over 4,000 lbs, the Pilot is a hefty SUV that fits into the midsize segment perfectly in line with the dimensions of rival offerings. It measures 196.5-inches long and rides on a 111-inch wheelbase. Regardless of the drivetrain, you're afforded 7.3-inches of ground clearance for the 70.6-inch tall Pilot, which is less than what body-on-frame truck-based SUVs provide but is par for other similar-sized crossovers.

Exterior Colors

As per last year's color palette, the Honda Pilot retains the eight available exterior paint options, with the only additional cost being for the White Diamond Pearl color for $300. A further four pearl colors remain: Obsidian Blue Pearl, Black Forest Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl, and Deep Scarlet Pearl, the latter being particularly attractive, while the remainder of the color palette is composed of three metallic color schemes: Steel Sapphire, Modern Steel, and Lunar Silver. All colors are available across the range, with no trim-specific colors available.

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

Pilot Performance

If you're looking for the quickest Pilot, you're in luck as they're all pretty swift and are powered by the same V6 regardless of the trim, but the all-wheel drive variants are marginally quicker, capable of achieving the 0-60mph sprint in less than 6.5 seconds. That's on the way to a top speed of 130 mph. AWD also enables the Pilot to tow more, too, with maximum towing capacity at 5,000 lbs with all-wheel drive compared to 3,500 lbs with only front-wheel drive. Competitors based on pickup underpinnings are able to tow slightly more, but the Pilot is quicker than most in class, and the performance isn't diminished by which gearbox you choose.

2018 Honda Pilot In Motion
2018 Honda Pilot Rear View Driving
2018 Honda Pilot Wheel

Engine and Transmission

Under the hood of each and every Pilot derivative, you'll find a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine equipped with i-VTEC fuel injection and variable valve timing. There are no turbos here, relying instead on old school natural aspiration and high displacement to develop 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. The front wheels are driven by default with all-wheel drive optional, and a six-speed automatic handles the shifting as standard on the LX, EX, and EX-L trims. On the Touring and Elite models, a nine-speed automatic handles shift work.

The engine is potent in its power delivery, getting the hefty Pilot up to speed quickly from a standstill while the impressive responses and torque from the high displacement ensure that overtaking maneuvers are affected quickly as well. It's one of the hottest performers in the segment, which comes in handy when you've got seating for eight. Although the two gearboxes may both be automatic and yield little difference in performance, we actually recommend the entry-level six-speed of the two, as it's the smoother 'box. The nine-speed, particularly at low speeds, has a tendency to be very jerky, which becomes frustrating around town.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

While the Honda Pilot might not be taking on any offroad trails like truck-based rivals might, its advanced traction management system for both front- and all-wheel drive models ensures it's more than a match for most loose gravel, mud, and snow. We'd recommend AWD, however, as not only does it offer better towing capacity, when you've got a full complement of eight occupants on board, the extra driven wheels get things going far easier and with more urgency.

The lower trim levels also ride more pliantly due to their 18-inch alloy wheels. On almost all road surfaces the ride is plush and comfortable, and little upsets the Pilot. It's one of the best SUVs in this class to drive, and it's not just from a comfort perspective - although the suspension does effectively iron out almost all imperfections. There's a sharpness to the Pilot that others lack, be it in the manner in which it turns in, the eagerness with which the engine gives you all 280 horsepower or the lightness with which the Pilot carries itself. At 4,000+ lbs it's no hot hatch, but it feels lighter and more responsive than its peers through a twisting stretch of tarmac and the body motions are well controlled, with less roll than most and better composure under duress.

Pilot Gas Mileage

The most efficient Honda Pilot you can buy is the Touring FWD. With the nine-speed transmission and only two driven wheels, it achieves EPA estimated gas mileage of 20/27/23 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, yielding up to 450 miles range on a 19.5-gallon tank of gas. The six-speed automatic performs slightly less admirably, with figures of 19/27/22 mpg on the same cycles, while equipping all-wheel drive sees the values of both transmissions fall by 1 mpg on each cycle.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    19.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/27 mpg
* 2018 Honda Pilot LX 2WD

Pilot Interior

The Pilot's interior, just like the exterior, is reminiscent of a minivan's, but while that may be an insult with regards to the exterior design when it comes to the cabin that translates to refinement, layout, and practicality - all strong points for any self-respecting minivan. In a segment where many cut costs with materials lacking in quality, Honda gives the Pilot a high-quality material palette bordering on luxurious. Spaciousness is typical of Honda products, but particular mention here goes to the third-row seats being able to house adults, which is no mean feat in the midsize SUV segment. But as is the case with all good things, the yin must come with yang, and in the case of the Pilot, the access to the third row is sub-par, and the available touchscreen infotainment is nightmarish to use. Still, this is one of the most functionally solid interiors around.

2018 Honda Pilot Dashboard
2018 Honda Pilot Dashboard
2018 Honda Pilot Driver Seat
See All 2018 Honda Pilot Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Inside the Honda Pilot, there's maximum seating capacity for up to eight occupants, although the second-row captain's chairs on the Elite model drops the capacity to seven. Standard manual adjustment for the driver's seat on the base trims, with power adjustment on higher trim lines, gives a wide range of adjustment making it easy to find a comfortable driving position with commanding visibility. The second-row seating is generously proportioned, with more than ample head and legroom for adult occupants plus supportive seats that are suitable for long-distance journeys. However, it's the third row of seating that surprises most, as the Pilot will accommodate adults in its rearmost row, despite the access being a little narrow. Once seated, there's headroom and legroom in abundance, and with a total of four full sets of LATCH anchors, there's plenty of space for child safety seats.

  • Seating capacity
    8-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The interior of the Pilot features three upholstery finishes available in three colors depending on the choice of exterior hue. On the LX and EX trims, upholstery is cloth and is available in black, gray, and beige, while the EX-L and Touring models get a leather interior in the same three colors. The Elite model, by virtue of the ventilated front seats, gets perforated leather, however, the color options once again remain the same. The panels on the doors and lower dashboard are matched to the chosen upholstery, while the upper dash is finished in black soft-touch material, while other details, such as the detail strip across the center of the dash are finished in gloss black.

Pilot Trunk and Cargo Space

Behind the third row of seating in the Honda Pilot, you'll find 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space, with that figure growing to 46.8 behind the second row, and 83.9 cubic feet with the second row of seats folded flat. The larger two figures are more than what a Ford Explorer provides and are generous for the segment, while the first is less than what Ford offers, but is still enough space for a week's worth of groceries for a small family. The Elite model, in addition to compromising on seating numbers with standard second-row captain's chairs, also compromises on maximum cargo volume, as the second-row center console can't be removed or stowed away.

Aside from the generous cargo bay, Honda has given the Pilot loads of in-cabin storage solutions, like large cupholders throughout, large door pockets, a cavernous center console storage bin, and a decent sized glove box. The foot wells are also generously proportioned and can accommodate handbags without discomforting passengers.

2018 Honda Pilot Maximum Cargo Space
2018 Honda Pilot Interior Overview
2018 Honda Pilot Rear Passenger Seats

Pilot Infotainment and Features

Features

The Honda Pilot comes well equipped across the line-up, with items like a rearview camera and cruise control on all models, but with higher trims featuring dynamic guidelines for the reverse camera. On all but the base LX, you'll also find tri-zone climate control, and the EX-L upwards offer one-touch slide and fold second-row seating. Power adjustment is available for both the driver and front passenger seats, with driver memory function on higher trims, while both are heated from the EX-L trim. There are ventilated front seats on the Elite model, which also receives heated second-row captain's chairs for extra comfort. A sunroof is equipped from the EX-L, with the Elite getting a panoramic version. Available on the EX-L and standard from the Touring trim, the Pilot can be equipped with navigation and a rear passenger entertainment system (10.2-inch display, HDMI port, Blu-ray player). The EX and EX-L, meanwhile, get the option of Honda Sensing's suite of safety features, which come standard on higher trims.

Infotainment

The base infotainment system on the Honda Pilot is an uncomplicated five-inch color screen with push-button operation and simple functionality - including only Bluetooth hands-free and media streaming but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Those are added from the EX trim up, part of the functionality equipped to the upgraded eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system on remaining trims, which also receive SiriusXM, HD radio, and Pandora internet radio. EX and EX-L models still retain seven speakers, while the Touring and Elite get ten speakers as part of a premium audio system. All models receive USB inputs, but the EX-L gets the option of two rear USB ports as part of the rear seat entertainment system. The infotainment system is infuriating as it lacks a volume knob and the touch zones on the screen are small and respond poorly.

Pilot Problems and Reliability

After the initial release of the Pilot in 2016 was plagued with numerous issues, subsequent year models have been vastly more reliable. However, J.D. Power still rates its overall reliability at a score of 77 out of 100, less than rivals like the Toyota Highlander which scored 80 out of 100. Reported issues for 2017 and 2018 have been minimal, however, there have been two recalls on 2018 models - both relating to the front seat assembly which may contain weak rivets that could break in the event of a collision.

Pilot Safety

In crash tests by government authorities, the Pilot has scored generally high safety ratings, achieving an overall score from the NHTSA of five stars out of five, while being awarded as an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2018 with optional safety equipment, this on the back of being a TSP+ in 2017.

Key Safety Features

Key to the Honda Pilot's high safety scores is the available Honda Sensing suite of safety technologies, equipped as standard on the Touring and Elite models, but optionally available on the EX and EX-L models. This suite equips forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and road departure mitigation, and complements the available park sensors on higher models and the standard rearview camera with dynamic guidelines. This advanced safety system is equipped in addition to a standard suite of airbags, ABS brakes with EBD, and advanced traction control and stability control management systems.

Verdict: Is the 2018 Honda Pilot a good SUV?

The Honda Pilot is a solid offering in the mid-size SUV segment, with seating capacity for up to eight occupants in a package combining many endearing traits. While some rivals may beat the Pilot's standard cargo volume behind the third row of seats, Honda wins us over for the Pilot's adult-sized third-row seating and generous passenger dimensions across all three rows. There's a high standard of safety features to be had on higher trims, with all but the entry-level model party to some impressive collision avoidance features, and impressive standard creature comforts. The infotainment system is a big gripe of ours, however - infuriating to use with no volume control knob and small, unresponsive touch zones.

The Pilot is one of the most endearing vehicles to drive in this segment, particularly when equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission. The nine-speed is clunky and poorly tuned, and we'd steer clear of it, and in turn, the higher trims on which it's equipped. The Pilot is seemingly light on its feet despite its size, with a suspension that strikes a fine balance between capable handling and impressive comfort. The 3.5-liter V6 combines robust performance and top of its class economy, while front- and all-wheel drive give buyers choices to suit their budget. After resolving reliability issues from its first year of production, the Pilot is now cemented near the top of its class.

What's the Price of the 2018 Honda Pilot?

Honda sells the Pilot in five trims with a couple of drivetrain options to give a variation in price. The cheapest model is the LX, which carries an MSRP of $30,900 in FWD guise. The EX is priced from $33,330, while the EX-L's price in the USA starts at $36,670. A front-wheel drive Touring model carries a sticker price from $41,970, while a fully loaded Pilot, dubbed the Elite, is priced at $47,470. Prices shown are before options, license, taxes, registration, and destination charges.

2018 Honda Pilot Models

The Honda Pilot is available in five trims for 2018, with a line-up comprising the LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite models.

All Pilot configurations are powered by a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, with a six-speed automatic standard on the LX, EX, and EX-L models, and a nine-speed automatic on the Touring and Elite trims. Front-wheel drive is standard from the LX to the Touring models, with all-wheel drive an optional extra. On the Elite trim, however, all-wheel drive is standard.

The Base LX model features 18-inch wheels, air conditioning, a reverse camera, and a basic five-inch infotainment display lacking smartphone integration but featuring Bluetooth hands-free.

From there, the EX ups the tech offering by equipping an eight-inch touchscreen featuring Android Auto and Apple Carplay functionality, while also adding automatic headlights, foglights, LED daytime running lamps, a blind spot camera, tri-zone climate control, and power driver's seat adjustment.

The EX-L is equipped with a power sunroof, power tailgate, acoustic windshield, leather upholstery, one-touch slide-and-fold second-row seats, and heated front seats as the primary upgrades. Both the EX and EX-L can optionally equip the Honda Sensing safety suite.

The Touring trim features roof rails, 20-inch alloy wheels, front and rear park sensors, memory function for the driver's seat, and a ten-speaker premium audio system. Honda Sensing is standard here.

The Elite tops the Pilot range, and features everything mentioned above, plus LED headlights, automatic high beams, full blind spot monitoring, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated second-row captain's chairs reducing seating to seven.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LX
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$30,900
EX
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$33,330
EX-L
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$36,760
Touring
3.5-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$41,970
Elite
3.5-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$47,470
See All 2018 Honda Pilot Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

While most of the Pilot's features are integrated into trim lines, several options and packages are available. All-wheel drive is available on all but the Elite model, on which it's standard, for an extra $1,900. Meanwhile, on EX and EX-L models, the Honda Sensing safety suite will set you back an extra $1,000, while the package is standard on the Touring and Elite models. The EX-L offers navigation at an extra $1,000 while a rear entertainment system, composed of a 10.2-inch screen, Blu-ray player, and HDMI port, is priced at $1,600, both of which are included as standard on Touring and Elite models.

Several standalone options are also available, like a heated steering wheel at $868, rear park sensors at $357, and a tow hitch, priced at $1,003 for towing up to 3,500 lbs and $1,470 for a 5,000 lbs rated tow hitch.

What Honda Pilot Model Should I Buy?

While the Touring model features an abundance of features and a choice of drivetrains, it can only be had with the unwieldy nine-speed automatic gearbox. That's why we recommend the EX-L, as it gets the smoother six-speed automatic in conjunction with creature comforts to make life easy like leather seats, heated front seats, sunroof, power tailgate, one-touch sliding second-row seats, and power adjustment for both front occupants. There's a choice of front- or all-wheel drive - we recommend the latter for increased towing capacity - the option to equip Honda Sensing safety features, and the choice to add navigation and rear seat entertainment. For an affordable price, is there anything you're really missing from the EX-L? Not really.

2018 Honda Pilot Comparisons

2018 Honda Pilot
2018 Honda Pilot

2018 Honda Pilot vs Volkswagen Atlas

The venerable MQB platform has been expanded to underpin the classy seven-seat VW Atlas, which closely rivals the Honda Pilot in the midsize SUV segment. The Atlas only seats seven, while the Pilot can seat up to eight in lower trim lines, but the Volkswagen has more third-row legroom, a bigger cargo volume, and easier access to the third row. The Atlas's infotainment system is also easier to use. Both models provide a comfortable ride with compelling dynamics, but the Atlas utilizes a turbocharged four-cylinder base engine with exceptional gas mileage. The Pilot's only engine is a 3.5-liter V6, which is frugal, powerful and performs so sweetly, especially when paired with the six-speed automatic. Both are premium in nature, despite their affordable price tags, but the Atlas is more well-rounded making it the better choice overall.

See Volkswagen Atlas Review

2018 Honda Pilot vs Toyota Highlander

Similarly priced and both seating eight occupants, the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are both top-quality midsize SUVs. The Pilot comes with the more upscale cabin of the two, as well as greater cargo volumes and more passenger space, but loses out to the Toyota when it comes to standard safety, only offering Honda Sensing as an option and not on the base LX trim. The Highlander's infotainment system is easier to use but doesn't provide Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, which somewhat robs it of the advantage over the Honda. The Toyota also has two engine options compared to Honda's one, meaning on lower-end models the Honda provides better performance. With a combination of performance and practicality on its side, the Honda Pilot is the superior model.

See Toyota Highlander Review

Honda Pilot Popular Comparisons

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2018 Honda Pilot Video Reviews