2013 Honda Pilot

Show caption
Honda /
2013 Honda Pilot EX-L 4WD.

After an extensive refresh in 2012, the Honda Pilot gets just a few changes for 2013. But one of them – a standard rearview camera with an 8-inch, high-resolution screen – is a great addition.

The Pilot has a boxy and upright shape, which allows for generous spaces inside. But that shape doesn’t do much for visibility around the base of the vehicle, and that’s why the new standard rearview camera is important. It’s one of those features, like keyless pushbutton start, that will one day become standard on most vehicles.

Other changes for the new model year include the addition of Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and audio, as well as automatic climate control.

Honda says the Pilot remains the most fuel-efficient 8-passenger SUV. Our 4WD test vehicle got EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The 2WD models get one additional mile per gallon in both city and highway driving.

The Pilot, available in four trim levels, is a superb family hauler and a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The interior is so big you almost can hear echoes, and the center console might actually be able to fit a Mini Cooper inside. It’s classified as a “midsize” SUV, but for my money this three-row vehicle sure seems large.

Trims include LX, EX, EX-L and Touring, and each is offered in 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive. Which leads us to what is really the only negative with the Pilot: just one engine is offered for all four models. It’s a 3.5-liter V6 with 250 horsepower, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. It’s not a big gripe however, because the V6 engine has enough power for most driving conditions, and it’s also is equipped with variable cylinder management. VCM, which is being used increasingly to improve gas mileage, shuts down two or three of the six cylinders when the vehicle reaches highway speeds and less power is needed.

Prices for the 2013 Pilot start at $29,520 for the base 2WD LX and work their way up to $41,270 for the top of the line Touring 4WD model with navigation and a rear entertainment system.

In addition to the rearview camera and monitor, the base Pilot includes tri-zone automatic climate control, a 2-gig CD library, a user-loadable wallpaper function, Bluetooth, USB connections, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a seven-speaker audio system, power windows and doors, and a Class III receiver hitch that 4WD Pilot drivers can use to tow up to 4,500 pounds.

On the road, the Pilot has a smooth and compliant ride. Even Louisiana potholes are absorbed without much fuss. Hard cornering can cause a degree of body roll, but that’s appropriate given the vehicle’s size and shape.

The real shining star for the Pilot is inside. Utilitarian doesn’t begin to describe the interior space, which is filled with drink holders, cubbies for storage and lots of head and leg room. Instrumentation is convenient and large, and the circular gauges behind the steering wheel have white backgrounds with high contrast numbers for easy visibility.

Front headroom is a whopping 40 inches, second row headroom is 39.8 inches, and even the third row is usable for adults, with 38.2 inches of headroom. Legroom ranges from 41.4 inches in front, to 38.5 inches in the middle and 32.1 inches in back. There is a total of 87 cubic feet of cargo volume, meaning the Pilot can move all your stuff with ease.

Safety is top notch, with three-row side curtain airbags and a full complement of other safety systems and features. Suffice it to say the IIHS gave the 2013 Pilot its “Top Safety Pick” award.

If you’ve got a sports team, a kid’s taxi service or if you just have lots of friends, the 2013 Pilot has you covered. In the market for a midsize SUV that seems like a large SUV? You need to shop the Pilot before making your buying decision.

2013 Honda Pilot Touring

--Engine: 3.5-liter V6

--Transmission: 5-speed automatic

--Horsepower: 250

--Test model base price: $41,170

--EPA mileage rating: 17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway