The Honda Pilot is offered in five different trim levels: LX, EX, Touring and Elite. The key difference between these models is the range of convenience features and luxury appointments offered. Across the entire lineup, powertrain offerings are essentially the same, with front-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive variants of each model.
All Pilots are powered by a 280-horsepower 3.5L V6 i-VTEC engine that utilizes variable cylinder management to allow the engine to run on just three or four cylinders when cruising or coasting in order to save fuel. This V6 is the workhorse of Honda's lineup and allows smooth, strong acceleration, even with a heavy load. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard while the Touring and Elite models get a 9-speed.
Honda's 4-wheel drive system is called VTM-4 (variable torque management). It automatically sends more power to the rear wheels when needed. For snowy driveways or muddy trails where a slow, steady grip -- and perhaps even a little slip -- would help, the system provides a "Lock" mode that works in first or second gear, up to 18 mph.
The Pilot is laid out more like a car than a truck, and that comes through with better handling, as well as a better on-road ride than might be expected from a big SUV. The rear multi-link, front-strut layout is close to what's offered in Honda's car lineup, while 4-wheel disc brakes, a variable-displacement steering pump and low rolling-resistance tires provide relatively lean performance on the road, with just a bit of added ruggedness. The rear suspension is mounted on a subframe, which helps isolate noise and vibration and acoustic glass helps keep out wind and road noise.
Inside, the Pilot's three rows of seating are laid out well enough to accommodate adults in all three rows, although the tallest passengers are best in the front two rows. The second and third rows have folding seatbacks and feature a 60/40 split, with cargo volume expanding to 87 cubic feet behind the front seats if everything's folded down.
Standard equipment on base Pilot LX models includes a 200-watt 7-speaker audio system with a subwoofer and USB input and remote keyless entry.
EX models add automatic headlights, fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, proximity entry, and an upgraded audio system that features Bluetooth, an 8-inch touchscreen interface and smartphone integration.
Touring models are only available with all-wheel drive and include the 9-speed transmission, 20-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, heated power-adjustable front seats, adaptive cruise control, 3-zone climate control and an integrated navigation system.
The top-of-the-line Elite adds rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated seats, second-row captain's chairs and a heated steering wheel.
The automaker's new Honda Sensing systems package, which is available across all trims, includes a suite of safety-oriented systems that include a blind spot sensor, lane keeping assist, back-up camera and collision detection sensors.
Other options include leather seats, navigation and rear-seat entertainment on all but the LX.