The Honda Pilot is offered in five different trim levels: EX-L, Special Edition, Touring, Elite and Black Edition. The key difference between these models is the range of convenience features and luxury appointments offered. Across the entire lineup, powertrain offerings are essentially the same, with front-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive variants of each model.
All Pilots are powered by a 280-horsepower 3.5L V6 i-VTEC engine that utilizes variable cylinder management. To save fuel, the engine runs on fewer cylinders when cruising or coasting. This V6 is the workhorse of Honda's lineup and allows smooth, strong acceleration, even with a heavy load.
Honda's 4-wheel drive system is called VTM-4 (variable torque management). It automatically sends more power to the rear wheels when needed. For snowy driveways or muddy trails where a slow, steady grip -- and perhaps even a little slip -- would help, the system provides a Lock mode that works in first or second gear, up to 18 mph.
The Pilot is laid out more like a car than a truck, and that comes through with better handling, as well as a better on-road ride than might be expected from a big SUV. The rear multi-link, front-strut layout is close to what's offered in Honda's car lineup, while 4-wheel disc brakes, a variable-displacement steering pump and low rolling-resistance tires provide relatively lean performance on the road, with just a bit of added ruggedness. The rear suspension is mounted on a subframe, which helps isolate noise and vibration and acoustic glass helps keep out wind and road noise.
Inside, the Pilot's three rows of seating are laid out well enough to accommodate adults in all three rows, although the tallest passengers are best in the front two rows. The second and third rows have folding seatbacks and feature a 60/40 split, with cargo volume expanding to 87 cubic feet behind the front seats if everything's folded down.
Standard equipment on the Pilot includes LED headlights and daytime running lights, LED front fog lamps, heated front seats, separate rear HVAC controls, an 8-inch touchscreen interface and Apple CarPlay\Android Auto connectivity, a 7-speaker audio system with a subwoofer, four USB ports, adaptive cruise control and remote keyless entry.
EX-L models also include leather front seats with driver seat memory, a power-adjustable passenger seat, leather steering wheel, a HomeLink garage door transmitter, and a power rear hatch.
Touring models get an upgrade to 20-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, an upgraded sound system with 10 speakers, 10.20-inch rear monitor, voice-activated navigation system with Honda HD Digital Traffic, CabinTalk intercom system, two wireless headphones, heated rear seats, HondaLink internet access and emergency SOS and front/rear parking sensors.
The top-of-the-line Elite adds rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated seats, second-row captain's chairs and a heated steering wheel. Black Edition adds blacked out exterior trim pieces and red interior accents to the Elite trim level.
The Honda Sensing systems package, which is standard across all trims, has a suite of safety-oriented systems that includes a lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, forward collision mitigation, rear collision warning and pedestrian detection prevention.