2016 Honda Pilot Touring and Elite: Moving On Up [Review]

2016 Honda Pilot
2016 Honda Pilot

Cincinnati, OH – The 2016 Honda Pilot marks the beginning of the third generation for the popular three-row seating Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV), with a new top-of-the-line Elite trim level that features LED headlights and taillights, 20-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, rain-sensing wipers, HD radio and a first ever Panoramic Glass roof along with several other luxury features.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price hp/ lb-ft
2016 Honda Pilot Touring and Elite $41,020. – 2WD Touring / 4WD Elite – $46,420. $41,900. – 2WD Touring / 4WD Elite – $47,300. 280 @ 6,000 rpm / 262 @ 4,700 rpm
EPA Rating As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway Not tested


The first generation Honda Pilot bowed in 2003 and ran through 2008, with the second generation taking over in 2009 continuing through the 2015 model year. The 2016 Honda Pilot is all new and joins the Honda CR-V and the also all-new HR-V as the flagship in an expanded lineup of the Japanese automaker’s SUV offerings. It was designed and developed by Honda R&D Americas, Inc., in Los Angeles and Ohio, and is manufactured exclusively by Honda Mfg. Alabama, Inc. in Lincoln, Alabama. More than 1.4 million Pilots have been sold over the past 12 years.
The 2016 Honda Pilot has been reengineered from the ground up on Honda’s global mid-size platform architecture, with virtually every aspect redesigned as well, to better accommodate the needs of every occupant – driver and passengers alike, providing enhanced family-friendly utility, more advanced technology and additional premium features and amenities than its predecessors.
Providing power for the new Pilot is a new transversely-mounted front engine from Honda’s Earth Dreams® Technology powertrain series – a 3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-valve, i-VTEC V6 engine with Direct Injection, Drive-by-wire throttle, Eco-Assist System, Variable Cylinder Management and Hill Start Assist. The new engine delivers 280 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, while also developing 262 pound feet of torque at 4,700 rpm. Two new advanced transmissions are available: a Pilot first Six-speed automatic for LX, EX and EX-L models; and a Nine-speed automatic with shift-by-wire for the Touring and new Elite models. Both Front-Wheel and All-Wheel Drive configurations are available.
In terms of its visual appeal, the new Pilot’s exterior projects a bold and athletic, yet more streamlined image. It is longer by 3.5-inches overall, lower and narrower than the outgoing model and it evokes an air of added sophistication. Key features include: an acoustic windshield, a power tailgate, LED daytime running lights, LED projector headlights and taillights, a one-touch power moonroof with tilt feature and an available Panoramic glass roof. Up front is a bright chrome three-bar grille design, a chiseled front fascia and air inlets deliver a sports car look. The hood and front fenders display strong character lines that add a muscular feel, and the long sweeping roofline curves dramatically from the A-pillars to the C pillars, ending with a functional spoiler. The profile showcases an additional character lie that extends from the front wheel wells through the rear door handles along with inset side sills and lower door edges that provide a well planted stance.
Moving to the inside, the cabin provides enhanced levels of quality, comfort, convenience and user-friendly technology in a more spacious and versatile environment. All Pilot trims except the new Elite model features 8-passenger seating with a three-person second-row bench seat. The new 7-passenger Elite model is equipped with two second-row captain’s chairs and a low-profile second-row center console that allows for easy walk through between the second and third rows.
The new Pilot serves up one inch more tandem seating space along with a 1.3-inch longer cargo area behind the third-row seat that will accommodate an 82-quart cooler without compromising third-row seating capacity. Third-row entry and exit is made even easier and more intuitive, thanks to a 1.4-inch lower step in height, a 2.5-inch wider foot entry space and new one-touch second-row seats are available on EX-L and higher trim levels. Soft leather seating is standard on EX-L and above trim levels.

During the national press introduction, my driving partner and I began our drive test in a FWD Touring model Pilot with the exterior finished in Obsidian Blue Pearl, complemented by a Grey leather interior. The base price was set at $41,020 with the final price tag coming to $41,900. Mid-way through the day we moved into an AWD Elite model with a Lunar Silver metallic exterior and Gray leather interior. Its base price was $46,420 which came to $47,300.
SUMMARY: Both the Touring model and Elite model Honda Pilot provided a most comfortable driving experience. The i-VTM4 AWD system in the Elite model that we tested represents Honda’s first U.S. application of torque vectoring, which provides 46 percent faster all-wheel response time through an electro-hydraulic system, with a 20 percent greater torque capacity with independent solenoids. It obviously outperformed the front-wheel drive over challenging, twisting back roads, with a more planted and stable feel.

In terms of power and acceleration, all trim levels share the same mechanicals, so no difference was noted. The nine-speed transmission shifted smoothly and seamlessly, without unnecessary gear searching, and the handling characteristics leaned to the sporty side of the equation.

The Honda Pilot is a top notch Crossover that delivers an impressive inventory of features and equipment that come as standard fare in all areas: comfort and convenience, safety, connectivity and entertainment. Different levels of content are differentiated by trim level, with available options for all. The new Electronic Gear Selector is intuitive and saves interior space.

Active safety demonstrations were conducted at the Kentucky Speedway, including: the Collision Mitigation System that is capable of bringing the vehicle to a stop to avoid rear-ending another vehicle; the Lane Keep Assist, which senses and corrects lane departure scenarios; and Cross Traffic Alert system that warns of unseen crossing vehicles.
All in all, the 2016 Honda Pilot is a safe, secure, comfortable, practical and versatile CUV that also happens to be as attractive as a CUV can be, and it is economical with EPA Mileage Estimates of 19-mpg city and 26 mpg highway. It is also reasonable priced considering its content on any level trim.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2016 Honda Pilot a Buy It! For an attractive, versatile and affordable crossover.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Honda Pilot Touring & Elite

Base Price: $41,020. – 2WD Touring / 4WD Elite – $46,420.
Price as Tested: $41,900. – 2WD Touring / 4WD Elite – $47,300.

Engine Type and Size: 3.5-liter, SOHC, 24-valve, i-VTEC V6 with Direct Injection,
Drive-by-wire throttle, Eco-Assist System, Variable Cylinder
Management and Hill Start Assist.

Horsepower (bhp): 280 @ 6,000 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 262 @ 4,700 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic (LX, EX, EX-L) Nine-speed automatic with
shift-by-wire (Touring, Elite).

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD or AWD.

Suspension: Front – MacPherson Strut with 25mm solid stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-Link with 26.5 tubular stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with
ABS, EBD, BA, VSA with Traction Control, TPMS and
Collision Mitigation Braking System.

Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport 245/50 R20 102H mounted on
stylized 5-“Y”-spoke alloy wheels with machined face and
painted inserts.

Wheelbase: 111.0 inches

Length Overall: 194.5 inches

Width: 69.8 inches

Height: 78.6 inches

Curb Weight: 4,140 lbs. – 2WD / 4,303 lbs. – AWD

Turning Circle: 19.7 ft.

Fuel Capacity: 19.5 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 19 mpg city / 26 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: Not listed

0 – 60 mph: Not Tested.

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.