2016 Honda Pilot long-term road test: how smart is its infotainment system?

December 18, 2016

As we barrel past 13,000 miles in our long-term 2016 Honda Pilot you might say we've covered quite a bit of ground in the large, three-row crossover SUV. Before this, we spent more than our fair share of time behind the wheel of multiple Pilots in its run-up to being named The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2016.

To say we've come to know it inside and out barely covers it. That includes its tech, from its safety systems to its infotainment and apps. We've covered the former in detail, but today we turn our attention later.

ALSO SEE: Bad app-titude: The problem with infotainment is our expectation

What we love about it

The infotainment system's 8-inch touchscreen is simple to use with an interface featuring large digital icons to navigate the system. Overall it's responsive to inputs and boots up relatively quickly when starting the Pilot. The Bluetooth connection picks up quickly and streaming music from you smartphone is easy. Connectivity isn't an issue with multiple USB ports (with various power outputs for varying devices), an HDMI input for the rear-seat infotainment system, aux jack and even a 12-volt outlet to power devices..

What we hate about it

Right off the bat there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, though this is being rectified and is standard on the 2017 Pilot EX and above trims. Another gripe is that our touchscreen is fingerprint central, but the 2017 Pilot's screen gets a new coating that supposedly reduces the appearance of fingerprints on the screen.

CHECK OUT: 2016 Honda Pilot long-term road test: which accessories are worth the price?

2016 Honda Pilot Touring long-term road test

2016 Honda Pilot Touring long-term road test

Audio source options

If you like having options when it comes to our audio source then the Pilot has you covered. An Aha Radio user? Pilot has the app built right into the infotainment system, just login. Want to use Pandora from your smartphone? Not a problem, and you can even control it from the Pilot's touchscreen. Bluetooth streaming works as it should, and you can skip, play, pause, and view the current playlist all on the screen.

HondaLink isn't what you would hope

When you hear the term HondaLink you think of a connected app that lets you control certain functions, such as lock, unlock, remote start, and maybe some other stuff.

You'll find none of that here. Honda's app world is limited. It doesn't offer features found on other smart apps and other cars, like remote start. If you want to know how many miles were on your Pilot the last time your phone was connected, or where you parked your Pilot, it can do that. That's about the upper limits in true functionality outside of scheduling a service appointment.

Honda touts you can make news, social media, and audio books accessible to your infotainment screen via the app, but these are things that aren't nearly as useful as say, controlling your smartphone via the touchscreen, or remote vehicle functions.

2016 Honda Pilot Touring long-term road test

2016 Honda Pilot Touring long-term road test

Burn it with fire

The single largest issue with the infotainment system and tech in the Pilot? There's no volume button. Not a real one. The entire system is controlled via touch sensitive buttons. This is beyond frustrating while piloting a 4,303-pound vehicle. We rarely changed the volume via the dashboard; instead we used the steering-wheel-mounted controls for volume and changing stations.

While the 2017 Pilot gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it doesn't get a volume button. Notably Honda's taken note of its error and given the Pilot's sibling, the new 2017 CR-V, a volume knob. Kudos, we can't wait for it to migrate to Pilot.

Wrapping it up

We are nearing the end of our time with the 2016 long-term Pilot. It's been a good run, but it's not over yet. The snow is flying here in Minnesota and hope to get put the Pilot's all-wheel-drive system to the test in the white fluffy stuff.

It's heading back south to Georgia for the remainder of its stay for some more holiday errands and even maybe a few more road trips.

Have a question, task, or comment regarding the Pilot? Connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook or leave a comment below.

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