Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2018 Honda Pilot offers 8-passenger seating, a powerful standard V6 engine, impressive advanced safety and driver-assist features plus Honda’s well-deserved reputation for value and reliability, all at a competitive price. Although not as roomy, luxurious or off-road capable as some, the Pilot nevertheless offers everything a growing family needs now and into the future.
You'll Like The 2018 Honda Pilot If...
If you need room for a growing family in a vehicle as worry-free as possible, the 8-passenger 2018 Honda Pilot is as good a bet as any. With handsome styling, excellent driving characteristics and proven V6, the Pilot can tackle almost any challenge.
You May Not Like The 2018 Honda Pilot If...
If you’re looking for a 3-row SUV with massive cargo space, a tow rating greater than 5,000 pounds or hybrid fuel economy, there are better choices than the Pilot. Budget-conscious buyers will note Toyota’s base Highlander LE comes standard with advanced driver-safety systems unavailable on the entry-level Pilot LX.
There are no major changes to the 2018 Honda Pilot.
The 2018 Honda Pilot interior boasts soft-touch surfaces on the dash and doors, which combine with on-road quiet and comfortable seats for a sophisticated feel. The comfort combines with practicality with a generous cargo area, and a huge center console bin with plenty of storage space. Thankfully, Honda has upgraded its navigation system for one from Garmin, although not everyone will like the cartoonish colors. The 2nd-row seats are comfortable, and the one-touch folding mechanism borrowed from the Acura MDX eases 3rd-row access. We also like the multiple USB ports (up to five), and the available HD rear-entertainment system.
For 2018 the Honda Pilot shuns the first two generations’ boxy styling in favor of sleek lines that are clearly designed to evoke a family resemblance to the smaller CR-V and HR-V. While it no longer stands out in a parking lot, the current Pilot SUV looks better overall. We particularly like the LED accents in the headlights, and a taillight design that reflects the same pattern. However, some may find the cargo floor is a couple inches higher than need be, while others will lament that the glass on the rear hatch no longer opens independently of the hatch itself.
It only takes a few minutes behind the Pilot’s wheel to understand just how good this big SUV has become. From its comfortable ride to its responsive steering to its ability to run through tight curves with surprising agility, the Pilot never falters. Despite its size, the 2018 Honda Pilot feels nimble and easily maneuverable, the latter trait amplified by the Pilot’s tight turning radius. Sure, the Mazda CX-9 is probably a better-handling SUV, but it seats only seven and offers only a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. For our tastes, the ample low-end torque and powerful pulling power of the Pilot’s 280-horsepower V6 is more fitting for this type of vehicle. Inside, the Pilot features wide, comfortable front seats, logically arranged switchgear and instrumentation and commendably low levels of wind and tire noise. The cabin’s styling is a bit austere compared to new competitors, but it’s not unattractive by any measure.
A base FWD 2018 Pilot LX carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $32,000 including destination charge. The much nicer EX and EX-L grades start a few thousand higher, at $34,305 and $37,735, respectively. Touring models start at $44,845. Adding the Honda Sensing system to any model increases the cost by a $1,000. Add $1,800 if you want AWD. The top-line 2018 Honda Pilot Elite model tops out at about $48,445. Overall, Honda’s Pilot SUV for 2018 is priced competitively against the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid, and be comfortable knowing that over the years your Honda Pilot will hold its value better than the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango and Chevrolet Traverse.Bonus Content: Check out how the Honda Pilot compares to its primary competitorsHonda Pilot vs Acura MDXHonda Pilot vs Ford ExplorerHonda Pilot vs Honda CR-VHonda Pilot vs Honda OdysseyHonda Pilot vs Nissan PathfinderHonda Pilot vs Toyota Highlander
The basic front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2018 Honda Pilot LX comes standard with a multi-angle rearview camera and a tire-pressure-monitoring system that flashes the lights when you’ve filled a tire to its proper pressure. Cruise control, audio and phone controls are all located on the steering wheel, and all Pilots come with Bluetooth, a 4.2-inch information screen between the gauges, push-button start, and an Eco mode to help fuel economy. Still, it’s worth upgrading to at least the EX model, which adds Intelligent Traction Management system, an upgraded audio system that includes HondaLink, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Honda’s clever LaneWatch right-side-view camera.
The 2018 Honda Pilot breaks most of its options into different trim levels. For example, if you want things like dynamic guidelines on your rearview camera, you’ll have to step up to the EX model. If you want leather, you’re in EX-L territory. The 9-speed automatic is standard once you get to Touring and Elite models. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional on all models, except for the Elite, where it’s standard. Also available on all new Honda Pilot models (besides the LX) is the Honda Sensing suite of collision and road-departure mitigation and warning, lane-departure warning, active cruise and lane-keeping assist.
HONDA SENSINGHonda’s suite of driver-safety assists includes lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation and braking and road-departure mitigation. They’re all part of the Honda Sensing system that is optional on EX trims and standard on Touring and Elite. UNDER-FLOOR STORAGEStorage space is always at a premium in an SUV filled with kids, pets and luggage, which is why we think you’ll appreciate the hidden cargo hold behind the Pilot’s 3rd-row seat. Adding about three cubic feet of storage with the seat up, the space includes a reversible carpeted cargo cover that can be stored at the bottom of the well when not in use.
Under the Hood
There’s only one engine available for the 2018 Honda Pilot: a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 280 horsepower. This engine is offered with either a 6-speed automatic or, in Touring and Elite models, a 9-speed automatic. We were impressed by the 9-speed transmission’s operation, particularly because this ZF-supplied transmission has received mixed reviews in other manufacturers’ cars. All models offer AWD, and the sophisticated system is standard on Elite models. Interestingly, a traction-management system that optimizes the AWD and FWD function for snow, mud or other surfaces is standard on all but LX models. The engine offers an Eco mode that shuts off half the cylinders under light throttle to help improve fuel economy. 3.5-liter V6280 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm262 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (6-speed automatic, FWD), 18/26 mpg (6-speed automatic, AWD), 20/27 mpg (9-speed automatic, FWD), 19/26 mpg (9-speed automatic, AWD)
The 2018 Honda Pilot remains a formidable 3-row crossover SUV, but competition both domestically and abroad is giving Honda’s full-size family hauler a run for its money. The Pilot’s recent restyling already looks a bit tame when compared to the Nissan Pathfinder and Mazda CX-9, and those more concerned with maximum interior room will find more to like in a Chevrolet Traverse. The 8-passenger Pilot has remained current with the latest driver-safety-assist features including adaptive cruise control and crash-detection and -mitigation systems, but its infotainment system isn’t as user-friendly as those found on GM, Ford and Dodge brands. The Pilot is also primarily an on-road SUV, with a comfortable ride, agile handling and respectable highway fuel economy, but no off-road chops.