- Powertrain is smooth and refined
- Can carry up to eight passengers
- Interior is spacious, versatile
- Strong safety record
- Bins and cubbies galore
- Expensive option bundles
- Base model lacks Bluetooth
- Cabin is awash in hard plastics
- Controls can seem cluttered
The 2015 Honda Pilot is one of the most practical and family-friendly vehicles in its segment, despite its boxy, truck-like appearance.
If you're looking for your best choice in a spacious family vehicle, you owe it to yourself to put the 2015 Honda Pilot on the short list. It's a family vehicle that simply gets a lot of priorities right. It protects passengers exceptionally well, and has quite the reputation for durability—and it's not all that surprising it sells as well as it does. The current proto-SUV look and the inexpensively finished dash aren't as charming as Honda probably intended, in our opinion, but it still does what many of the current Honda lineup do well: It operates efficiently, and with a minimum of fuss.
The Pilot remains one of the best options on the market if you need a minivan, but can't just commit to the idea of owning one. Its tall, boxy design is an advantage for cargo space and head room by comparison to more rakish crossovers–yet the Pilot drives like a car, creating a comfortable, engaging vehicle with few compromises in convenience.
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 an 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 been rated as one of safest cars on the road for years now, and includes side-curtain airbags for all three rows, as well as the expected list of security features. A rearview camera is also standard, which is especially helpful in overcoming visibility issues in the tall, blocky crossover.
The Honda Pilot goes mostly unchanged for 2015, in advance of a full redesign expected for 2016. Meanwhile, this year, a new Special Edition SE trim is now available as a mid-priced trim. It's offered in five different trim levels: LX, EX, SE, EX-L, and Touring. All five 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 think the LX and EX models offer more bang for the buck, as the more expensive EX-L, Touring and Limited trims begin to overlap with some of the true luxury crossovers on the market. 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.