The 2013 Honda Pilot SUV comes with only one available engine, but most will agree that it is the only one you will ever need. The 3.5-liter V6 engine mates with a four-speed automatic transmission to deliver 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph happens in 8.3 seconds, and it is capable of towing 2,000 pounds as a front-wheel drive. When you add on the optional all-wheel drive powertrain, then towing capabilities is increased to 4,500 pounds, but acceleration speeds slow a bit. Fuel economy is very close regardless of powertrain, with the all-wheel drive returning 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. One unique thing that Pilot offers is a very special feature that allows the driver to route torque to your rear wheels at low speeds. This comes in handy when you find yourself in a bit of deep mud or snow on the trail. Pilot may be a large vehicle, but its turning circle is only 37.9 cubic feet, which means it is easier to maneuver than you might expect. It is also quite pleasant to drive as its four-wheel independent suspension manages to absorb bumps in the road like a sponge.
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• Audio - There are so many trims and audio configurations on the Pilot that it can be hard to keep up. They begin with a base system that includes 229 watts of power, six speakers, one subwoofer, a CD player, USB audio and Bluetooth, and go up to a 10-speaker surround sound with 650 watts of power.
• Navigation - The available satellite-linked navigation system gives you maps and turn-by-turn directions. It even comes with FM Traffic to display freeway conditions in metropolitan areas.
• Rear Entertainment System - A brilliant 9-inch screen can be used to play DVDs and keep rear seat passengers entertained.
• Rearview Camera - This feature allows you to reverse with confidence, displaying a rearview image on your 8-inch center screen.
When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Pilot received a “Good” rating for roof, side and frontal-offset protection. Unfortunately, it does not score quite as well when braking is put to the test, taking 130 feet to stop from 60 mph. This is well below average. Safety features worth mentioning include:
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Whiplash protection in head restraints
• Traction control
• Four-wheel ABS
• Turn signal mirrors
• Anti-theft alarm system
• Dusk sensing headlamps
• Stability control
• Engine immobilizer
• Rear door safety locks
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Front seatbelt pretensioners
• Emergency braking assist
• Child seat anchors
There is no denying that it will take a special buyer to find the exterior of the Pilot attractive. Some prefer the boxy look while others will be drawn to something a bit more modern. The integrated trailer hitch and the tailgate with lift-up glass hatch are both thoughtful features. Other than that, there is not much to get excited about.
The cabin is useful but far from luxurious. The new 8-inch information screen on all trims is a nice new feature and the controls are clearly labeled and thoughtfully placed. However, they do feel a little cheap. This eight-passenger vehicle does provide plenty of room in all three rows, but the back two rows are low to the floor and not very cushioned, forcing the seating position to be awkward and uncomfortable.
The boxy shape of Pilot does offer one clear advantage; it makes it easy to load large and bulky cargo. Behind the front seat it offers 87 cubic feet of space. However, behind the rear seat, you only get 18 cubes, which certainly is not generous.