Saturday, April 7, 2012

Test Drive!: Honda Pilot

Yesterday we headed out to Honda Cars of McKinney to drive what Honda has to offer in the crossover SUV.  While the new CR-V sports a pretty admirable new body style, it's just too small for our needs.  The Pilot was our next choice for offering third row seating.   We spoke with Trae Gibson from the new car sales department, and he's pretty much got his game on.  Very knowledgeable about the car, very kind and informative, and we felt comfortable talking with him about handing over a big chunk of change. 

Our drive in the Pilot lasted about 30 minutes on city streets and the highway; however, traffic was backed up so we couldn't see her true potential as far as acceleration and smooth ride.  The ride was quiet, as the Pilot has a special feature to offer white noise from the speakers to make the cabin seem quieter, much like headphones that cancel noise. At first glance, the Pilot is kind of a Plain Jane in comparison to the other cars we have driven, such as the CX-9, but she makes up for it in the cabin.  I was impressed with the head room and leg room in the second row, and the front seats seemed to not box you in.  The one thing that turned William off was the cheap plastic console pieces in the front.  The seats were comfortable and the visibility is awesome in the Pilot.  A plus for me, since after having neck surgery any strain trying to see out to drive is literally a "pain in the neck." 

We drove a Pilot EX-L in Bali Blue Pearl with a black interior.  We are really liking that most of the vehicles we have driven have gone with black carpeting.  It will show a lot, I know, but it will probably hide stains really well. 

Mileage for a Pilot is about 18 in the city and 25 on the highway...about average for its class.

Here are some of the things we liked about this model:
  • cabin space
  • back-up camera; it doesn't just show a "picture" behind you, but gives you yellow guidelines to show your placement in the space.  In the touring model, the camera also offers three angles...wide, normal, and straight down, so that you can see your actual bumper and/or trailer hitch
  • power seats (a given), although we would like the memory settings
  • sun roof
  • dual front air controls and rear air
  • bluetooth
  • we like the option of all wheel drive, just in case Colorado becomes home for us in a few years.  :) 
  • Sirius radio is standard and free for the first three months
  • the warranty is pretty impressive 5/60,000  for powertrain/ and 3/36,000 for the new vehicle
Some things that REALLY stood out:
  • the navigation system in the Touring model (we looked at this after driving the EX-L) is voice activated.  While it takes a bit of commanding and might cause you to curse if you are in a big hurry, we thought this feature was pretty darn cool.  The controls are in the steering wheel for voice, and on the dash for manual.  You can type in TACO CASA and off you go!!  Really the navigation system has all kinds of things to offer.
  •  above the glove compartment, there is a little shelf of sorts with three compartments with grip to hold cell phones, ipods, little gadgets, and they won't go flying into the passengers lap at the first turn. 
  • the sound system is equipped with a hard drive so you can rip your music directly into the car's radio from your CDs or ipod/iphone.  It has a/v connections up front, and auxiliary plugs (two in front, one in center, one in back) for multiple gadgets with multiple kids. 
  • the Touring package comes with the towing capability that is already wired, a plus for Mr. Miata
  • lots of pockets and bins to store toys and little what nots that a family carries when you LIVE in your car most of the week
  • our big, tall boys would be able to get in the third seat if necessary, with the dog.
  • parking sensors on the Touring model

A few concerns:
  • Edmunds mentioned that the braking on the Pilot is less than expected...9.1 seconds to go from 60mph to a stop, at a distance of 130 feet.  That's kind of scary, but I'm sure that following general rules for tail gating on the freeway will keep you at a safe distance. And, it's an improvement of about 30 feet from last year, according to Edmunds.
  • William is having a hard time getting over the cheap plastic in the console.
Overall, the Pilot is a front-runner in the competition with the CX-9.  The CX-9 offers Mazda's sleek handling capability (one thing we LOVE in our Miatas), and the Pilot is a little bit more stiff.  Our grandmother and William's mom have both driven Honda's for years, so we know the reliability is not a question.  We also have family with a Pilot, and she loves hers.  It's good to have an honest, unbiased opinion from somebody close.

Later, I'll post our review of the Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, the Dodge Durango, and the Dodge Journey.  All crossed off the list before we even left the lot.   No kidding.

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