Honda got the crossover SUV right with its sturdy Pilot. This is not a wimpy, boxy reincarnation of gramp's station wagon; it's a bold, capable SUV with enough CUV-ish features to make it more urban and family friendly. If you like the Honda Pilot, you'll love the 2011 model even more. Changes from the 2010 Honda Pilot are few, limited to some high-tech add-ons for the top trim lines.
Power and Mileage.
While power is part of the equation, that's not the whole story. Honda's midsized SUV boasts a 24-valve i-VTEC 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivering 250 horsepower and 253 lb/ft of torque, but even better is the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that cuts back to three cylinders at cruising speed or under light acceleration—great for fuel savings (17/23 for the 2WD; 16/22 for the 4WD). The available Variable Torque Management system directs power to the wheels with the most traction to keep you moving and stable in slippery conditions. VCM also provides automatic four-wheel drive that can be locked into 4x4 in the lower gears at 18 mph. MacPherson struts and multi-link rear suspension with trailing arms provide a smooth ride. The suspension is tuned to the soft side, so you can cruise over potholes and speed bumps without a hiccup. A five-speed automatic transmission comes standard.
Family- and Pet-Friendly, Seating for 8.
Now to the family-friendly parts: Pilot, backed by Honda's deserved reputation for quality and durability, excels in those areas of greatest value to the family SUV owner.
The Pilot aces passenger comfort, all eight of them. You don't have to be five-years old to fit in the third seat. While Kobe Bryant might have an issue, the knee room in the 60/40 split back bench is sufficient for your average-sized adult. The second tier bench seat even slides forward for easy access. The 18 cu. ft. rear storage is about the equivalent of a midsized sedan trunk; with the bench seats folded flat, that space expands to a serious 87 cu. ft. The driver's seat area also incorporates handy storage alternatives in the center console.
Big on Safety.
In terms of safety, the Pilot scored perfect fives on government crash tests and was awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top "good" rating for frontal-offset and side-impact crashes. Honda doubled up on safety assurance with front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain air bags, stability control and anti-lock disc brakes. Plus, the Pilot's Lower Anchor and Tether for Children system provides options for three child seats in the second row and one in the third.
Honda's crossover SUV comes in four models (Honda Pilot LX, EX, EX-L and Touring), each available in either two- or four-wheel drive. The available options or standard equipment on the luxury models include just about every bell and whistle imaginable, from leather-trimmed seats, DVD rear entertainment system, rearview camera and Bluetooth. Pricing starts at $28,045.