The 2021 Honda Pilot three-row crossover SUV now comes with a 9-speed automatic across the lineup and a new Special Edition trim. The 9-speed that had exclusively been on top trims now replaces the 6-speed automatic on the outgoing entry-level models and comes with paddle shifters and automatic stop/start.
The 9-speed is marginally more efficient with an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined in front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive loses 1 mpg. The 6-speed in FWD was 19/27/22 mpg.
The 2021 Pilot starts at $33,370, including destination fee, a $600 increase due to the uprated transmission and dual-zone climate control on the base LX model. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 across the lineup, except on the Elite and Black Edition models that come standard with AWD.
In addition to the 9-speed transmission and 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, standard equipment on the 2021 Pilot includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights, automatic high beams, keyless start, and 18-inch alloy wheels. But it still only has a 5.0-inch display screen without smartphone compatibility.
We'd upgrade to the Pilot EX trim for $36,050. It comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, remote start, automatic door locks, clever second-row seats that move forward for third-row access with the push of a button, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.
The new Special Edition (SE) trim slots between the EX-L ($39,480) and the Touring ($44,040) trims. The Pilot SE has the leather seats, second-row sunshades, and a driver's seat with memory settings from the EX-L model, and adds more cosmetic flair with 20-inch black wheels, roof rails, black elements in the grille, hands-free power liftgate, and a wireless phone charger for $40,080.
2021 Honda Pilot Special Edition
The Touring trim comes with navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system, wi-fi hotspot, heated second-row outboard seats or available captain's chairs for $300, and exterior flourishes such as chrome door handles. The Elite trim ($49,540) makes all-wheel drive and the second-row captain's chairs standard to seat seven passengers total, and has a dual sunroof, cooled front seats, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, and heated steering wheel. The top Black Edition is $51,040 and blacks out the chrome exterior finishes on the grille, around the windows and doors, and it comes with 20-inch black wheels, like the Special Edition. The Black Edition gets red interior accent lighting and stitching, as well as all the features on Elite.