This could harm the company's reputation for quality and reliability.
It may not be the most exciting three-row SUV on the market, but the Honda Pilot remains a firm favorite amongst American buyers. This popularity saw it just make the 2021 best-sellers list, with more than 143,000 examples leaving showrooms last year. With a new model reportedly in the cards, it should continue to find buyers who value the fine mix of practicality, reliability, and quality. But a worrying engine issue may tarnish that reputation altogether.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said it's looking into a startling problem that appears to be plaguing 2016-2020 models. It has received as many as 221 complaints pertaining to the Pilot's Auto Start/Stop function, with owners alleging the 3.5-liter V6 fails to restart at a traffic light or intersection with the system engaged.
Reportedly, some owners have had to resort to jumper cables to get their SUVs going again. The potential consequences of this failure are clear to see. As a family vehicle, the Pilot is used to ferry kids to and fro; being unable to restart your vehicle late at night or in an undesirable area could be dangerous or cause an otherwise avoidable accident.
Like other similar fuel-saving systems, the Start/Stop setup is supposed to quickly restart the engine once the driver releases their foot from the brake pedal. The report notes the affected vehicles are the Touring and Elite trim levels with the 3.5-liter V6 engine and nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Thankfully, no deaths or injuries have been reported regarding the failure but, worryingly, Honda has said other products with the same powertrain - such as the Odyssey and Acura's TLX and MDX - can experience the same problem.
Honda has not released an official statement regarding the investigation, but Honda does not have a reputation for this sort of thing and will be sure to carry out its own investigation while complying with any requests that the NHTSA may make.
This investigation follows the recent probe into the Ford Bronco. In the case of the rugged off-roader, it appears some examples of the 2.7-liter V6 are suffering from premature engine failure - one insider claims this is due to inferior quality valves from a third-party supplier.
Like the Bronco, the investigation into the Pilot doesn't mean a recall is on the cards, but it is possible. Just this year, the NHTSA looked into claims that Honda's automated braking system may be causing unexpected deceleration, with some owners reporting unexpected braking. As many as 1.7 million vehicles were involved, including the Accord and CR-V.