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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2016 Honda Pilot Review +VIDEO


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2016 Honda Pilot (Elite Shown)

SEE ALSO: Totally Honda

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE PILOT VEHICLE
Completely redesigned for 2016, the Honda Pilot makes a competitive move in the mid-size SUV market by adapting a crossover shape and offering a savvier interior for one pampered and pleasing experience. Honda also adds a top-of-the-line Elite trim that stands out for such new features as a panoramic sunroof and second-row captain chairs.

I drove a 2016 Honda Pilot with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with Earth Dreams Technology and Variable Cylinder Management, paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission with All-Wheel Drive. Available in five trims – EX, EX-L, Touring and the all-new Elite – my Elite trim came with the following standard feature highlights: ten-way power driver’s seat; leather-trimmed upholstery; heated and ventilated front seats; heated second-row captain’s chairs; heated steering wheel; push-button start; 4.2-inch multi-information display; panoramic sunroof; XM Radio; Bluetooth; eight-inch touchscreen display; next-generation Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System; rearview camera; Blu-Ray rear DVD entertainment system; trailer harness; fog lights; roof rails; power tailgate; Blind Spot Information System; Collision Mitigation Braking; Lane Departure Warning; Forward Collision Warning; twenty-inch alloy wheels. Price as described came to $46,420.

With this redesign, the Pilot becomes a major contender against other crossovers offering a refined trim that truly competes with entry-level luxury brands – that includes the Toyota Highlander, Kia Sorento and Nissan Murano. The Mazda CX-9 and Mitsubishi Outlander closely mimic what’s being done with these suggestions, but on a more economical scale.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Simply put, it’s easy to fall in love with the redesigned Pilot now featuring an exterior that resembles a beefier CR-V and a much-improved Honda Satellite-linked Navigation System with better graphics and touchscreen response time. The interior is done up in grey-and-charcoal tones set off by a glossy black interface. The side door panels accommodate more objects. The second-row windows have lengthened, the captain’s chairs are comfortable, the DVD player is easy to use, the panoramic sunroof is enormous – you’ll have some happy kids back there, all the way to the third row.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2016 Honda Pilot is recognized by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as a Top Safety Pick with ratings of “Good” in all areas and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives in an overall score of 5-Stars. Standard safety equipment includes vehicle stability assist with traction control, hill start assist, an advanced airbag system, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution with the Elite trim adding a suite of safety technology.

Cost Issues: The base Honda Pilot EX starts at $29,995 – highlights at this trim include a rearview camera and push-button start. Keep in mind the loaded Elite trim at $46,420 has it all. The 2016 Kia Sorento starts at a reasonable $24,900, and when fully loaded with options is $45,800. My recent top-of-the-line Outlander GT trim cost $34,345, but was I felt came up short here and there with performance and interior presentation.




Activity & Performance Ability: One of the most notable changes about the Pilot’s performance is the switch to a push-button shifter – not good for those who want to shift gears in a hurry as a pausing occurs between each command. Another is the smoothness of a nine-speed transmission. With all the bodily changes, this crossover still features excellent visibility and comfortable seat dimensions that allows you to get through everyday driving situations with confidence – it also feels a bit lighter. Those twenty-inch wheels on the Elite trim are a delight on rough surfaces.

The Green Concern: Another excellent attribute is a combined fuel economy of 22 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive (19-city and 26-highway). In real life driving I was able to maintain 21.8, which is as good as its claim. Although it uses a less powerful V6 engine, the Outlander does the best at 20-city and 27-highway for a combined 23 miles-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
When it comes down to it, the redesigned three-row 2016 Honda Pilot crossover is a no-brainer: refined looks inside and out, accommodating space, improved technology, and favorable fuel economy for a V6 engine and AWD at 22 miles-per-gallon combined. The Elite trim at $46,420 is a splurge, but a better choice than an entry-level luxury SUV.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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