When it comes to Hondas, the highest compliment is that a Honda does what it is supposed to do. The Honda Pilot achieves just that. It isn't flashy or ostentatious, but it does a lot of things quite well.
Visually, the 2011 Honda Pilot we recently tested manages to stand out from the crowd. It's the winner of the Miss Isuzu Trooper contest in a sea of aerodynamic blobs that look as if they've melted a bit in the sun. In the crossover world, the Pilot is one of the few current offerings that still resembles a sport/utility vehicle. The styling advantage of flat sides: They improve interior volume for passengers and cargo, and can increase headroom at the outboard seats. The disadvantage: Air doesn't flow over, under, and around the vehicle as well as with the aforementioned blobs, so it can take more work to get fuel economy comparable with its peers.
The Pilot's 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower engine uses Variable Cylinder Management, Honda's cylinder shutoff technology, providing fuel economy of 16 mpg city/22 highway. Although the Trooper would've given one of its doors for numbers like that, several current offerings have slightly better numbers.
The interior provides plenty of room with a decent-sized third row. At first glance, the center stack is attractive, but as has been the case with Hondas and Acuras of late, it's too cluttered and button-heavy. It would take a while to learn to use all the controls without taking your eyes off the road. Our Pilot tester came with the company's topline Technology group, and the cabin had features such as nav, rear DVD system, full leather interior, and the company's best AM/FM/CD/XM audio system. All of these features brought the price to $41,175. That may sound steep, but it's about right for this segment.