2021 Honda Pilot Touring Review: The Minivan Of SUVs (2024)

Honda is continuing to refine and improve the Pilot to build a more capable and attractive SUV. For customers looking for a vehicle that is incredibly well built, has lots of features and comfort, then the new 2021 Honda Pilot needs to stay at the top of the list for test drives.

However, as the midsize segment continues to get more and more competitive, the Pilot can become slightlyless desirable than the likes of the red-hot Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade fraternal twins.

Though it may be less exciting than the competition, the new Pilot is further improved for 2021.

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Minor Updates Improve This SUV

2021 Honda Pilot Touring Review: The Minivan Of SUVs (1)

For the 2021 model year, Honda has graced the entire Pilot lineup with 9-speed automatic transmission. In years previous, this transmission was an exclusive feature for the higher-end trims. The other Pilot’s featured the 6-speed transmission. This new transmission not only improves fuel economy, but it enhances the Pilot’s driving experience so more consumers can enjoy the benefit of this Honda-developed transmission. Outside of this, the powertrain remains unchanged with the trusty 3.5L naturally-aspirated V6 and AWD. This V6 produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb/ft of torque with a maximum towing capacity of 5000lbs.

The government rated fuel efficiency of 12.4/9.3/11.0 L/100km (city/highway/combined). In US MPG, these figures are 19.0/25.3/21.4, respectively. The as-tested price for its top-trim Touring is $57,000CAD. The engine is refined when cruising on a long family road trip or quick to react with consistent power delivery. The 9-speed transmission helps out further as it can skip multiple gears in one swift movement to maximize the fuel economy or improve responsiveness. Though this powertrain is well integrated, the driving experience is hardly exciting.

The Pilot feels like an appliance, which, honestly, is no bad thing for a three-row midsize SUV. It’s a trustworthy, under-stressed, and stoic power plant. Though it lacks a turbocharger, like many of its rivals, the Pilot doesn’t feel slow off the line and happily snaps into the next gear when pushed to redline. A sport mode and a few other drive modes will adjust the throttle sensitivity and the power sent to the rear wheels, but the differences are imperceptible under normal driving circ*mstances. To summarize the rest of the driving experience, the Pilot is softly-sprung and relaxed. It truly doesn’t lack engagement, but there’s nothing to be extracted from all of the chassis or drivetrain components.

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The Capability of the Pilot

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The Pilot is Honda’s largest SUV, a midsize three-row vehicle that either has seven or eight-passenger capability. The seven-seater configuration is exclusive to the Black Edition model, and the Touring trim can be optioned to have the seven-seat setup. The Pilot prioritizes interior volume and comfort. It is evident stepping into the Pilot for the first time just how intelligently engineered this cabin space is to accommodate lots of people and all of their things.

The third row has enough headroom to satisfy six-footers, and the second-row space (whether it has the bench seat or the captain chairs) can recline, slide forwards and backward, and feature the ingenious one-touch second-row seating that quickly slides out of the way to make third-row ingress and egress effortless for all age groups. The captain chairs and third row of seating can fold down flat with hidden storage underneath the trunks false floor, and the full-size spare tire is mounted underneath the vehicle. Door pockets are multi-leveled, the center consoles are massive, so for your day-to-day needs, there’s nothing the Pilot can’t accommodate!

The downside to all this functionality is that the interior of the Pilot is quite bland and uninviting. Yes, there will space for whatever you can think to throw at the Pilot, but there’s nothing to spark joy or any other emotion, really, from behind the wheel. Comparing the exterior and interior design to the aforementioned Korean twins, there’s enough attractive features in both of these SUVs to have anyone feel inspired just to sit in the cabins. This, and many other talking points, are why the new Kia and Hyundai are still in very high demand.

With this Touring trim, Honda offers lots of desirable features such as the 20’’ rims, Qi wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, CabinTalk, and the Blu-Ray HD rear entertainment system. As standard, the Pilot, and most other Honda models, include the Honda Sensing Technology suite of active safety technology. This includes features like the forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and more. As a quick note, the Pilot shares its platform, interior layout, and engine with the Odyssey minivan, the Ridgeline pickup, and the two-row Passport.

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Seeing the updated 2021 Pilot as a tool in the driveway to help transport your family and your things with ease is no bad thing. The Pilot is commendable at getting the job done efficiently and competently, but it lacks passion. As mentioned in this review, there are many more enticing vehicles in this class to look at, drive, and be inside of. If a car is just a transportation device to you, the new Pilot is just that.

2021 Honda Pilot Touring Review: The Minivan Of SUVs (4)

This review was made possible with the help of the Dilawri Group and Calgary Honda

NEXT: The 2021 Honda CR-V Sport Is A Charming And Intelligent Compact Crossover

2021 Honda Pilot Touring Review: The Minivan Of SUVs (2024)
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