2011 Honda Pilot Review

Consumer Reviews
3 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
November 24, 2010

If you can get past the garish grille and overwrought look, the 2011 Honda Pilot is a fine family vehicle, with minivan-like interior space and decent performance.

The Pilot is Honda's mid-size crossover utility vehicle, offering a rugged look combined with a very passenger-friendly package and surprisingly good on-the-road performance.

Honda appears to be running in the opposite direction, style-wise, than the rest of the industry—which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your taste. The evidence: Honda gave the Pilot a complete redesign for 2009, but while other models have become softer and more carlike, the Pilot became even more macho, creased, and imposing, with a chunky look and an almost incredibly garish framed chrome grille that's either a macho masterpiece or a little embarrassing (we go with the latter). Interior themes are also a bit gimmicky and overwrought in a chunky, macho aesthetic..

The 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that powers the 2011 Honda Pilot isn't exceptionally fast with the smooth-shifting five-speed automatic, but it has a pleasant, responsive, and refined feel and is sweet-sounding. A cylinder-deactivation system is there to help cut fuel consumption while coasting or cruising, yet the Pilot is quite thirsty, with EPA ratings of just 16 mpg city, 22 highway with four-wheel drive. Handling is much better than the tall silhouette suggests, and once you get past the initial surprise of the tall driving position, you'll find handling to be reasonably crisp, with good maneuverability.

Review continues below

The 2011 Honda Pilot has a carlike unibody design, bolstered structurally with some of the benefits of an SUV, so it's able to draw from the best of both worlds. Ride quality is a little firm, but with the optional four-wheel-drive (actually all-wheel drive) system, which has a Lock mode, the Pilot is great for getting through deep snow, mud, and the like. Four-wheel-drive models can tow up to 4,500 pounds.

Inside, the Pilot is as roomy and functional as ever; it's one of few vehicles this size to have a third row that's spacious enough for adults (though headroom is tight in the far back). Front seats are generously sized and excellent for long road trips, while the second-row seats slide fore and aft for easy access to the third row or to get just the right balance of legroom between rows. The second and third rows split 60/40 and fold forward.

From a practicality standpoint, the interior of the 2011 Honda Pilot interior brims with cubbies, holders, and bins for accoutrements of all sorts. Oddly, the chunky, oversized aesthetic doesn't carry over to instrument-panel controls, which come across as cluttered, and the hard-plastic surfaces used throughout the dash are disappointing.

The Pilot is available in four different trim levels—LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring—each of which is offered in 2WD or 4WD. The EX-L and Touring get upgraded leather upholstery. Base 2011 Honda Pilot LX models come with rear air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, and a seven-speaker sound system, while the top-of-the-line Touring includes a host of tech features, such as a nav system, a rearview camera, a Bluetooth hands-free interface, a USB audio plug, backup sensors, and available rear DVD entertainment. The availability of the navigation system has been expanded to EX-L models for 2011.
6

2011 Honda Pilot

Styling

Garish or genteel? The 2011 Honda Pilot has styling that's controversial, to say the least.

Honda appears to be running in the opposite direction, style-wise, than the rest of the industry—which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your taste. The evidence: Honda gave the Pilot a complete redesign for 2009, but while other models have become softer and more carlike, the Pilot became even more macho, creased, and imposing, with a chunky look and an almost incredibly garish framed chrome grille that's either a macho masterpiece or a little embarrassing (we go with the latter).

Interior themes are also a bit gimmicky and overwrought in a chunky, macho aesthetic, yet up close, the controls can feel a little cluttered, especially with respect to climate and audio, with the optional navigation system.

Review continues below
8

2011 Honda Pilot

Performance

A responsive, smooth powertrain and surprisingly confident handling make the 2011 Honda Pilot a better on-road performer than its appearance might suggest.

The 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that powers the 2011 Honda Pilot isn't exceptionally fast with the smooth-shifting five-speed automatic, but it has a pleasant, responsive, and refined feel and is sweet-sounding. Handling is much better than the tall silhouette suggests, and once you get past the initial surprise of the tall driving position, you'll find handling to be reasonably crisp, with good maneuverability.

The 2011 Honda Pilot has a carlike unibody design, bolstered structurally with some of the benefits of an SUV, so it's able to draw from the best of both worlds. Ride quality is a little firm, but with the optional four-wheel-drive (actually all-wheel drive) system, which has a Lock mode, the Pilot is great for getting through deep snow, mud, and the like. Four-wheel-drive models can tow up to 4,500 pounds.

Review continues below
8

2011 Honda Pilot

Comfort & Quality

Good seating in all three rows, along with great cargo versatility, make the 2011 Honda Pilot a great family choice; although it misses some marks in the details, with a cluttered instrument panel and too many hard plastics.

Inside, the 2011 Pilot is as roomy and functional as ever; it's one of few vehicles this size to have a third row that's spacious enough for adults (though headroom is tight in the far back). Front seats are generously sized yet quite firm, and excellent for long road trips, while the second-row seats slide fore and aft for easy access to the third row or to get just the right balance of legroom between rows. The second and third rows split 60/40 and fold forward.

From a practicality standpoint, the interior of the 2011 Honda Pilot interior brims with cubbies, holders, and bins for accoutrements of all sorts. Oddly, the chunky, oversized aesthetic doesn't carry over to instrument-panel controls, which come across as cluttered, and the hard-plastic surfaces used throughout the dash are disappointing.

Review continues below
7

2011 Honda Pilot

Safety

The 2011 Honda Pilot is safe and secure, but it no longer wows with its safety credentials.

The 2011 Honda Pilot has a solid safety record, and includes all the expected safety features, but it's no longer at the top of its class with respect to crash-test ratings. The Pilot was formerly a five-star achiever in federal ratings, but redesigned 2011 test protocol gives it four stars, with four stars for frontal impact and five stars for the new side pole test. The Pilot has also lost its IIHS Top Safety Pick status because of a 'marginal' score in the agency's roof strength test, while it maintains 'good' ratings in other categories.

Safety gear in the 2011 Honda Pilot includes front side airbags, side-curtain bags that cover all three rows, and active head restraints, plus electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.

The thick rear pillars could be in the way for some drivers when parking or changing lanes, so the backup camera, which comes standard on the 2011 Honda Pilot EX-L and Touring models with the nav system, could be useful.

Review continues below
6

2011 Honda Pilot

Features

In the 2011 Honda Pilot, you still have to step up to top trims to get essential connectivity and tech features like Bluetooth or iPod connectivity.

The Pilot is available in four different trim levels—LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring—each of which is offered in 2WD or 4WD. You'll have to step up to the EX-L and Touring to get upgraded leather upholstery and other tech features like Bluetooth, USB/iPod connectivity, a power tailgate, or a navigation system. In fact, you have to get the navigation system in order to have a USB input.

Base 2011 Honda Pilot LX models come with rear air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, and a seven-speaker sound system, while the top-of-the-line Touring includes a host of tech features, such as a nav system, a rearview camera, a Bluetooth hands-free interface, a USB audio plug, backup sensors, and available rear DVD entertainment. The availability of the navigation system has been expanded to EX-L models for 2011.

Review continues below
6

2011 Honda Pilot

Fuel Economy

The 2011 Honda Pilot simply isn't the right choice for buyers who prioritize fuel economy.

While a number of other mid-size crossovers the size of the 2011 Honda Pilot offer a more economical base four-cylinder engine, the Pilot carries on only with its V-6—which, already, was not one of the most fuel-efficient offerings in its class.

A cylinder-deactivation system is there to help cut fuel consumption while coasting or cruising, yet the Pilot is quite thirsty, with EPA ratings of just 16 mpg city, 22 highway with four-wheel drive.

Review continues below
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April 28, 2015
For 2011 Honda Pilot

I'd buy another.

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From the beginning the car has been rock solid. Change the oil and good to go. Had an issue with the sunroof that was taken care. The most trouble free car I've ever owned.
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April 16, 2015
For 2011 Honda Pilot

Best vehicle of the 17 that I've owned!

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A great vehicle that with Honda's DNA is a absolutely outstanding.:-)
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April 13, 2015
For 2011 Honda Pilot

The Family Survivalist

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My family purchased a 2011 Honda Pilot Touring which at the time was the highest trim level you could get. Its easy to clean. Has and excellent tv infotainment center. Theres so much more that is capable in... + More »
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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 7
Features 6
Fuel Economy 6
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