2016 Honda Pilot First Drive - Video
By Colum Wood
The Honda Pilot has been transformed.
From a utilitarian box on wheels to a sleek near-luxury SUV the style shift is almost shocking in its departure from the past.
Pairing that dramatic redesign with a long list of upgrades, does this latest model have what it takes to put the Pilot at the helm of the 3-row crossover segment?
While we should keep you waiting with a line like “you’ll never guess what happens next,” the short answer is: yes.
Over the past few years utility vehicles like the boxy Ford Escape and the square Nissan Pathfinder have traded in their chiseled looks for a more curvy appearance. Now the Pilot is following that trend, and for good reason. Or should we say reasons.
First and foremost is the truck’s perception.
Honda’s market research surrounding the previous generation Pilot indicates that the two main rejection reasons for that model were styling and fuel economy. According to their research, people saw the boxy shape and assumed that it was bad on gas. This was true even when the Pilot had best-in-class fuel economy and continued to haunt it as the truck grew older and gave up that title to more modern rivals.
Of course, if you’re in the opposing camp and you did like the look of the old Pilot you can always blame Obama.
How is this Obama’s fault? Well, it’s called government mandated corporate average fuel economy standards and for Honda to hit its targets, it needs sleek aerodynamic shapes in order to eek our every last mile per gallon. Thankfully, you, the consumer, get to reap the reward.
Gone is the big boxy grille. It also looks longer and lower, because it actually is. The Pilot shaves an inch off the top and adds three inches in length overall, with roughly two inches between the wheels and an inch of extra rear overhang.
But Honda has done so much more to make the new Pilot a fuel economy leader.
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