2015 Honda Pilot – The Family SUV

If you have a family, and need seating for eight, Honda has a midsize SUV for you. The 2015 Honda Pilot is considered by many to be the perfect family vehicle.

Being a midsize SUV, the Pilot is not too big, allowing it to easily handle heavy traffic or tight parking spaces. Yet, it can still comfortably seat as many passengers as a full-size.

Competing against the likes of the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander, the Honda Pilot stands alone as the only one that can comfortably seat eight. However, the Pilot does lack some of the latest technological features available in its rivals.

New for 2015, Honda has added a new trim level to the Pilot lineup. Customers can select the Special Edition, which slots in between the base LX and the EX-L. The new Pilot Special Edition comes with sporty pewter gray alloy wheels, special SE badging, a one-touch-open power moonroof with tilt feature, Sirius XM radio, and a Honda DVD Rear Entertainment system.

The exterior of the Pilot is defined by its long wheelbase. Its upright and somewhat boxy, but its short overhangs allow for generous interior space. Overall, the look is not unpleasant and should not go out of style anytime soon.

Unique details include turn signals integrated into its halogen headlights, and available body coloured heated power side mirrors with built in turn signals. Wheel choices range from 17-inch steel wheels up to 18-inch alloys with machined surfaces on Touring models.

Like the outside, the inside of the Pilot is not eye-popping, but its basic design is efficient and works well. Comfort is the theme throughout the cabin of the Pilot. Whether you’re sitting in either the front bucket seats or the two rows of three-person bench seats in the back, you will receive more than enough legroom. The second row not only reclines, but slides forward and back to accommodate passengers in the third row. This is hard to find in a midsize SUV.

Function is also abundant as the theatre-style design of the second and third rows allows for easier access and improved sightlines. The tri-zone automatic climate control keeps everyone at a comfortable temperature.

Behind the third row, cargo space is roughly equivalent to the trunk of a large sedan. If that’s not enough, there’s an ample storage bin below the floor and plenty of roof space for the optional carrier rack. Accessing the cargo area is made easy with the available power tailgate. Plus, the tailgate glass flips up independently for added versatility.

The Pilot comes standard with an eight-inch multi-information display. Also standard is a rearview camera, which is welcome every time you are reversing.

Those unhappy with the original equipment stereo can opt for the available ten-speaker premium audio system. It has a 5.1 surround sound theatre mode, which nicely compliments the available DVD Rear Entertainment System with nine-inch display and wireless headsets.

All 2015 Pilots are powered by a refined and fuel-efficient 250 hp 3.5-litre V6 with Variable Cylinder Management. The engine can operate on three, four, or all six cylinders to help make it one of the most efficient eight-passenger SUV’s.

The engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The transmission has been engineered to optimize fuel economy with extra-wide gear ratios for good, low-end response and comfortable highway cruising.

And should you go off-road, the Pilot is equipped with Grade Logic Control to maintain the most appropriate gear when climbing or descending steep grades.

All trims are available with Honda’s Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive system (VTM-4). In normal use, all the power goes through the front wheels, enhancing fuel economy on non-taxing drives. When extra traction is needed, the VTM-4 ECU engages the rear differential, seamlessly transferring power to the rear wheels. For maximum traction, VTM-4 Lock engages full four-wheel lock at low speeds.

Complimenting the Pilot’s powertrain is its rigid body structure and fully independent suspension, providing a smooth, controlled ride. Its rack-and-pinion steering gives stable and predictable handling, and easy manoeuvrability in tight spaces. Truth be told, the Pilot’s high centre of gravity prevents it from tight, high-speed cornering, but this is a family SUV and not a sports car.

Tell us what you think about the Honda Pilot. Is it worthy of the title of being the ideal family SUV?

Consumer Expert Mike Ratcliffe

I am a freelance writer. I've been happily married for...a while now, and I'm a father of 2. I enjoy injuring myself in the name of sport, love driving but hate commuting, and can't get enough of Star Wars.