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The Honda Pilot has chosen to go against the current with today's crossover segment styling. While other three-row family wagons like the Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander have become sleeker, more rakish models over time, the Pilot has become boxier and more SUV-like.
Though the Pilot might have a more rugged look, it's still a crossover tried and true, with a standout interior package and an excellent drivetrain, though we have nits to pick with its fit and finish, and features and equipment.
Especially if you're a household that eschews minivans yet needs a roomy interior, and three rows of seating, the 2013 Pilot remains one of the best picks. The overtly boxy body yields an especially roomy interior, as well as great versatility for busy weekend-hauling needs. Yet with a carlike unibody design, bolstered structurally with some of the benefits of an SUV, the Pilot is able to draw from the best of both worlds.
A five-speed automatic transmission is paired with the familiar 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 in the Pilot, and it altogether keeps with Honda's smooth, responsive, and sweet-sounding reputation for these powertrains. EPA highway ratings are now up to 25 mpg, making it one of the most fuel-efficient three-row vehicles.
Once you get past the initial surprise of the tall driving position, you'll find handling to be reasonably crisp, with good maneuverability. Ride quality is on the firm side, but the optional four-wheel-drive (actually all-wheel drive) system has a Lock mode and is a champ in deep snow or mud. Four-wheel-drive models can tow up to 4,500 pounds.
The Pilot has for years been a top safety achiever, and it includes side-curtain bags cover all three rows, along with the usual roster of security items. For 2013, a rearview camera system is standard on all models and helps with visibility, which can be an issue in the blocky, tall Pilot.
The 2013 Honda Pilot remains offered in four different trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All four are offered in 2WD or 4WD, but beyond that you need to ante up to one of the top two trims in order to get a lot of the more desirable options and convenience features.
We recommend the more affordable LX and EX models, as they're a better value and don't overlap in pricing with some luxury vehicles, as top-of-the-line Limited models do. They include rear air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, and a seven-speaker sound system. Leather upholstery, a Bluetooth hands-free interface, USB/iPod connectivity, a power tailgate, and a navigation system all remain only available on the EX-L and Touring--a serious impediment to broader sales success.
- Can carry up to eight passengers
- Powertrain is smooth and refined
- Interior is spacious, versatile
- Bins and cubbies galore
- Strong safety record
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- Controls can seem cluttered
- Cabin is awash in hard plastics
- Base model lacks Bluetooth
- Expensive option bundles