Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2011 Honda Pilot If...
If you’re looking for a true eight-passenger vehicle that offers more on- and off-road capabilities than a minivan, the 2011 Honda Pilot belongs on your list. It can accommodate three child seats in the second row and comfortably fit two adults in the third-row seat.
You May Not Like The 2011 Honda Pilot If...
With the Pilot’s limited stand-alone option choices, you will have to opt for a higher trim if you want a premium sound system, USB port, moon roof or heated front seats. Those looking for a base model with a few choice extras that won’t break the bank may be more interested in the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander or Ford Explorer.
For 2011, Honda’s voice-activated satellite navigation system is now available on both the EX-L and Touring trims.
Benefiting from Honda’s simple but elegant design philosophy, the 2011 Pilot’s interior emphasizes maximum room with minimal clutter. Ergonomics and simplicity are the key themes, as the radio and climate controls are placed within easy reach and gear selection is operated via an instrument-panel mounted shifter. Passenger legroom is generous in all three rows – a rarity in some three-row vehicles – as is head and shoulder room. Cargo space is still abundant thanks to multiple storage spaces and under-floor storage in the trunk area. And, for the occasional wider load, the vehicle is broad enough to accommodate four-foot wide items when the seats are folded flat.
The 2011 Honda Pilot has a rugged, boxy SUV look that gives no hint of its car-like driving dynamics. A long wheelbase and short front and rear overhangs create a purposeful stance, while the use of Honda’s high-strength Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure in the front helps absorb energy and mitigate frontal impacts. Other conveniences include a standard integrated tow hitch and a lift-up glass hatch on the tailgate. Aesthetically, the bold front fascia stands out, especially the six-sided grille, and the large 17-inch wheels fill out the wheel wells in style.
For such a large vehicle, the 2011 Honda Pilot delivers a surprisingly calm and capable driving experience. The suspension is firm, but not bouncy, making the ride stable with minimal body roll considering its SUV stature. The steering is precise and well-isolated when going over bumpy roads at almost any speed. While In-cabin noise seems noticeably quieter than many large crossovers we’ve tested, it’s more an intuitive rather than scientific observation. Another big difference between the Pilot and it competitors is its responsive engine. Although the Highlander moves along just as quickly when it comes to getting onto a freeway or traversing rocky terrain, the Pilot seems to accelerate more quickly than its American competitors and their respective V8 offerings.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 Honda Pilot LX starts just under $29,000 and approaches $42,000 for a loaded all-wheel-drive Touring trim with navigation and the DVD Rear Entertainment System. Its base price is on par (or lower) than the entry prices of the GMC Acadia and Ford Explorer, and even the Pilot’s Touring trim level remains competitively priced in its segment. Be sure to take a look at the New Car Blue Book Value to see what consumers in your area are currently paying for their Pilot. As for residual values, the Honda Pilot is projected to hold values higher than those of the Chevy Traverse, Ford Explorer and remain on par with the Toyota Highlander.
A base 2011 Honda Pilot comes with sport cloth seats, remote entry system, automatic headlights, power windows, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 17-inch wheels, front and rear air conditioning, an integrated rear cargo net and under-floor storage, auxiliary input jack and an AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and a subwoofer. The EX, EX-L and Touring Pilots add an eight-way power driver’s seat, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, daytime running lights and heated side mirrors. Exclusive to the EX-L is a rearview camera with a display screen imbedded in the rearview mirror.
Most of the additional features for the 2011 Honda Pilot are tied to trim level and are not available as stand-alone extras. These options include a 512-watt AM/FM/six-disc CD premium audio system with ten speakers, leather seats, power moonroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, corner and rear backup sensors, power tail gate, side mirror turn signals, navigation system with voice recognition and rearview camera, 115-volt power outlet, a USB port and second-row integrated sun shades. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available only on the EX-L and Touring trims.
Rearview Mirror Camera DisplayAvailable on the EX-L trim, this 2.5-inch LCD display – conveniently located in the rearview mirror – shows you what’s behind the vehicle while in reverse. Second Row SeatingThe 2011 Honda Pilot’s second row offers excellent room for taller passengers and also provides LATCH systems for three child seats.
Under the Hood
The 2011 Honda Pilot’s engine comes equipped with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology, allowing for an uptick in horsepower and torque, as well as improved fuel economy. This VCM technology, similar to the system used in the current Honda Accord, allows the vehicle to seamlessly run on three, four, or six cylinders, depending on driving conditions and requirements. 3.5-liter V6250 horsepower @ 5700 rpm253 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 16/22 (4WD)
Upon its introduction, the Honda Pilot quickly earned a reputation for reliability, comfort and practicality. With seating for eight persons and ample room for all their stuff, this crossover echoed what people liked about SUVs without the heft or poor fuel economy as trade-offs. Benefiting from a complete redesign in 2009, the 2011 Pilot carries on offering a spacious interior, plenty of convenience-oriented features and respectable gas mileage. However, with the growth of the mid-size crossover in the last few years, the Pilot faces more competition than ever, and now must stand out from the likes of the Mazda CX-9, Chevy Traverse, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Veracruz and the new Ford Explorer.