The 2018 Honda Pilot ranks among the very best three-row crossover SUVs; it’s all about the packaging.
With its cushy cabin, big digital screens, and soft all-season tires, the 2018 Honda Pilot is not so much an SUV as an almost-minivan missing only some sliding side doors.
Whether it’s an LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, or Elite, we’re here for that Pilot. It does almost all the family-wagon chores, doesn’t complain much, and tries to take it easy on us in the process. It earns a well-deserved 7.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
With softly rounded corners and a tapered silhouette, the Pilot hardly looks the SUV part. It’s heavy on the crossover design language that also styled the last Chevy Traverse, the Hyundai Santa Fe...you get the picture. The shape still is elegant and well detailed, with a neatly organized cabin to boot.
The Pilot pulls with 280 horsepower of V-6 gusto, a little more powerful than it frankly needs to be. The transmission choices are an older, smoother 6-speed we prefer to the sometimes juddery 9-speed. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and fuel economy figures rise to 22 mpg combined, though we’ve seen lower results in the real world. Its ride is fairly plush, and the steering’s relaxed—oddly enough, more sedate with the big 20-inch wheels than with the smaller 18s.
The Pilot excels in delivering space in all three rows of seats. All three are adult-friendly, and the middle row of seats can be fitted with a button that slides the second row out of the way for better third-row access. Adults can fit in that rearmost seat; the back two rows fold down for excellent cargo space.
Safety ratings are near the top of the class; the Pilot has earned a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, and five stars overall from the NHTSA. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are offered on most trim levels, though blind-spot monitors only come on Elite versions.
Standard features include Bluetooth with audio streaming, touchscreen audio, power features, cruise control, and air conditioning. As you move up in price, you can add satellite radio, leather trim, a DVD entertainment system, and heated and ventilated front seats.