2014 Honda Pilot Review and Prices
Past and Future Reviews
The 2014 Honda Pilot is the best SUV for you if you want a crossover past its prime but still with plenty to offer.
The 2014 Honda Pilot will likely be the last of a 2009-vintage design generation. Honda is on track to launch an all-new replacement for model-year 2015. That leaves the 2014 Pilot a lame duck, little changed from the 2013 model but still providing solid road manners, an efficiently designed eight-passenger cabin, and decent fuel economy. On the downside, the ’14 Pilot will probably continue to lack some technology expected in this class. And its blocky shape will look hidebound in a world of newer, sleeker crossover competition such as the Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, and Nissan Pathfinder.
Should you wait for the 2014 Honda Pilot or buy a 2013 Pilot? Buy a 2013 Pilot. Waiting for the 2014 Pilot won’t pay off in significant improvements but will get you styling and features that’ll seem even more dated once the 2015 Pilot rolls out. That suggests clearance-sale prices, but also a hit on depreciation.
2014 Honda Pilot Changes back to top
Styling: The 2014 Honda Pilot might get a new exterior color or two and Honda could commemorate the end of this second-generation version with a special trim package.
But it’ll essentially repeat styling that’s far more truck-like than that of trendier rivals. Pilot acquired its square-cut profile as part of its 2009 redesign, a reshaping intended to make it look more macho than the first-generation 2003-2008 Pilot.
The 2014 Pilot will also carry over a dashboard with an 8-inch display screen but still slightly cluttered by too many buttons. No complaints about a solidly constructed cabin that’s deceptively roomy.
The 2015 Pilot will again fit three rows of seats into a space most rivals reserve for two. Here, Pilot’s upright profile pays off in chair-height comfort for the first two seating rows and surprising space for a couple of not-too-large adults in the third row.
The 2014 Pilot’s overall length will remain midpack for the class, which again means only average overall cargo volume but also a three-row SUV that’s easy to maneuver and garage.
Expect the 2014 Honda Pilot to carry over a four-tier model lineup beginning with the base LX and climbing through the smartly equipped EX, leather-trimmed EX-L, and fully loaded Touring. The LX will again likely be identified by black exterior detailing instead of the body-colored trim on the other models. Otherwise, check wheel size and type for visual distinctions. The LX model should retain 17-inch steel wheels while all other 2014 Pilots ought to repeat with alloy wheels – 18-inchers on the Touring and 17s on the others.
Every 2014 Pilot should again seat eight courtesy of two front buckets and three-passenger second- and third-row bench seats. Unlike most rivals, Honda hasn’t offered Pilot with second-row captain’s chairs, though their addition could be part of a farewell 2014 trim edition. Models so equipped, however, would sacrifice Pilot’s place among the few SUVs with anchor positions for four child safety seats – three in the second row and one in the third.
Honda won’t tinker with a Pilot cargo matrix that allows the third-row seat to drop into a rear floor well. Maximum cargo volume almost certainly will remain a middling-for-the-class 87 cubic feet. But with both rear benches folded, the 2014 Pilot should again be capable of carrying a 4-foot-wide plywood sheet laid flat.
Mechanical: The 2014 Honda Pilot comes too late in this crossover’s lifecycle to warrant meaningful mechanical changes. That strongly suggests it’ll return with the only powertrain this second generation has known. The engine would again be an all-aluminum single-overhead-cam 3.5-liter V-6 with 250 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque (in simplest terms, torque moves you forward, horsepower sustains momentum). The sole transmission should remain a five-speed automatic. And every 2014 Pilot model would remain available with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
None of those specifications would set the 2014 Pilot apart from the midsize crossover-SUV herd -- but some would keep it behind the curve.
Most V-6 rivals have more horsepower and torque, for example. And virtually all of them employ automatic transmissions with a more efficient six gears – and the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Volkswagen Touareg have eight speeds.
Again compensating to some degree for absence of a fuel-saving sixth gear ratio will be Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management, which automatically idles two or even three cylinders in low-demand cruising.
And while Pilot’s all-wheel drive (AWD) system won’t have off-road ready low-range gearing, few rivals will, either. The 2014 Pilot will again enable drivers to maximize torque transfer to the rear axle to enhance traction at low speeds, though continued absence of hill-descent control would be a demerit.
Even without change, the 2014 Pilot should again make the most of its modest-on-paper resume. Acceleration should remain just fine, transmission behavior smooth and responsive, and tow ratings competitive. A slightly rough ride over bumps likely will again be the price of handling that’s better than you might expect.
Features: The 2014 Pilot will offer most of the comfort and convenience features available on its rivals, though full parity may have to wait for the 2015 redesign.
It wasn’t until model-year 2013, for example, that every Pilot model came equipped with Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity and a backup camera (which we consider a safety features), as well as a USB interface for iPods. Even the 2014 Pilot will likely do without features most competitors offer, such blind-spot and rear cross-traffic- alert safety systems, and the convenience of active cruise control.
Pilot’s navigation system will likely remain the province of the 2014 lineup’s most expensive trim lines -- as standard on the Touring and as a roughly $2,000 premium for the EX-L model. (No telling whether Honda will finally allow EX-L buyers who opt for navigation to also get the rear-DVD entertainment system in combination).
Since Honda doesn’t offer individual factory options, 2014 Pilot buyers may find themselves compelled to ascend the model ladder to get the blend of features they desire, such as power heated front seats or a power moonroof. Expect a power liftgate to remain exclusive to the EX-L and Touring models, where it’ll be standard.
Every 2014 Pilot will come with three-zone climate control, front and rear air conditioning, cruise control, tilt and telescope steering column, keyless entry, and power locks and windows with auto-up/down for the driver and front-passenger windows.
Also included will be automatic on/off headlights, a trip computer, digital compass, and an integrated class-3 towing receiver. The standard audio system will again be an AM/FM/CD stereo with seven-speakers including a subwoofer and an auxiliary jack for digital devices.
Standard safety features will again include head-protecting curtain side airbags that deploy in side collisions as well as in impending rollovers.
2014 Honda Pilot Prices back to top
Prices for the 2014 Honda Pilot were not released in time for this review, but unless the automaker introduces a special trim level as a going-away gift to this design generation don’t expect much deviation from 2013 Pilot prices.
That suggests a 2014 Honda Pilot price range of roughly $30,550-$42,400. (All estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2013 Pilot was $830.)
Expect the 2014 Honda Pilot LX to be priced around $30,550 with front-wheel drive and $32,150 with AWD.
Estimated list price for the 2014 Honda Pilot EX is $32,800 with front-wheel drive and $34,400 with AWD. The EX version ought to again represent a good value, adding to the LX such desirable standard features as the alloy wheels, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, satellite radio, exterior temperature indicator, HomeLink remote garage-door system, fog lamps and, on AWD versions, heated side mirrors.
Expect the 2014 Honda Pilot EX-L to be priced around $36,000 with front-drive and $37,650 with AWD. To the EX model, the EX-L should again add leather upholstery and the power liftgate
Honda likely will continue to make the 2014 Pilot EX-L model available with the navigation system or a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, but perhaps not in combination.
The DVD entertainment system will again include a 9-inch screen that folds from the ceiling. With it, expect the 2014 Pilot EX-L to be priced around $37,650 with front-drive and $39,300 with AWD.
Estimated price for the 2014 Pilot EX-L equipped with navigation is $38,150 with front-drive and $39,650 with AWD. Adding either the DVD or navigation system to an EX-L should again upgrade the audio system to 10 speakers, including the subwoofer.
Estimated price for the 2014 Honda Pilot Touring model is $40,700 with front-wheel drive, $42,300 with AWD. Expect the 2014 Touring to again come with every EX-L feature and to combine the navigation and DVD systems as standard. It’ll also likely continue to come with memory front seats and mirrors, second-row window sunshades, front and rear parking sensors, mirror-integrated turn signals, and bright body-side trim.
2014 Honda Pilot Fuel Economy back to top
Honda boosted Pilot’s fuel economy as part of a model-year 2012 freshening, tweaking aerodynamics and engine and suspension calibrations to yield EPA-rating increases of 1 mpg in city driving, 2 mpg on the highway, and 2 mpg combined city/highway.
Don’t anticipate additional gas-mileage gains in the final year of this design generation. So the 2014 Honda Pilot fuel-economy ratings ought to remain 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 17/24/20 mpg combined with AWD.
2014 Honda Pilot Release Date back to top
The 2014 Honda Pilot should be in showrooms by late-summer 2013.
What's next for the 2014 Honda Pilot back to top
The third-generation 2015 Honda Pilot must address three key points.
First, Honda needs to reassess its styling philosophy. Catering to owners of the 2003-2008 Pilot who said they wanted its replacement to look more macho was admirable. And Pilot’s second-generation styling did help the 2009-2014 generation stand out among direct rivals. But the retro look doesn’t speak to Honda’s tradition of forward-thinking design. So expect the 2015 Pilot to have more curvaceous contours: check out the recently redesigned Honda CR-V compact-crossover SUV for clues to Pilot’s next look.
The next-generation Pilot will retain three-row seating and again be based on the structure that also underpins the Honda Odyssey minivan. That means it’ll again have car-type unibody engineering in which body and frame form a single unit. That’s in contrast to the heavier-duty body-on-frame build of a truck-type SUV, such as the Toyota 4Runner. Comparatively lightweight unibody design benefits fuel economy and handling and is what qualifies Pilot as a crossover.
Second, dependability and pleasing cabin materials are now baselines for virtually every carmaker, so perceived value has broadened to include lots of features for the money. The 2015 Pilot must come with a full suite of connectivity and driver-alert gizmos and buyers may expect even more advanced tech, too.
Third, four-cylinder engines are no longer taboo in this class. The Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe come with a serviceable four rated at 24 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 23 with AWD. Among other three-row rivals, the Toyota Highlander offers a four and the Ford Explorer’s “premium” engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder. Doubtful Honda would offer the 2015 Pilot with a four-cylinder engine – it doesn’t have an appropriate turbo version and a V-6 is more consistent with the relatively upscale image this crossover has cultivated.
So expect the next-gen Pilot to get Honda’s new-design “Earth Dreams” 3.5-iter V-6 with some 310 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Pilot will repeat with a choice of front-or all-wheel drive, but will likely move forward on the transmission front. Look for front-drive versions to use a continuously variable transmission, which performs the duties of an automatic but with a rheostat-like delivery of power. And AWD versions likely will come with a conventional six-speed automatic transmission.
2014 Honda Pilot Competition back to top
Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia: These three-row crossovers are significantly longer than the Pilot and so are more of a challenge to maneuver in tight places and fit in a residential garage. Their extra length pays off with 116 cubic feet of cargo volume, but to Honda’s credit, the GM crossovers do not have significantly more third-row passenger room than the Pilot. Introduced for model-year 2009, Acadia and Traverse were freshened for model-year 2013, retaining the smoother styling that makes them look less trucky than the Pilot. Both again use a V-6 engine with 281-288 horsepower, depending on model, a six-speed automatic transmission, and a well-sorted suspension to furnish admirable road manners. Their extra mass reduces fuel economy to 19 mpg combined with both front- and all-wheel drive. Expect a base-price range of roughly is $31,700-$43,800 for the 2014 Traverse and $35,400-$49,250 for the 2014 Acadia.
Ford Explorer: The current-generation Explorer bowed for model-year 2011 and made the major transition from body-on-frame to unibody-crossover design. It could receive a freshening as early as model-year 2014, but it’ll retain three rows of seats in a body some 6 inches longer than the Pilot’s. Explorer mixes sleek styling cues with a traditional-SUV bearing to popular affect. It’ll return with front-wheel drive and an all-wheel-drive system that’s surprisingly adept off-road, thanks to all-terrain technology. The engine lineup should be comprised again of a base V-6 rated at some 290 horsepower and around 20 mpg city/highway combined; an extra-cost and underpowered 237-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder whose extra three mpg isn’t worth it; and, in the hot-rod Sport model, a twin-turbo V-6 of some 365 horsepower and 18 mpg combined. Estimated base-price range for the 2014 Explorer is $30,500-$42,000.
Toyota Highlander: The 2014 Highlander gets a full redesign to remain an attractive counterpoint to the Pilot. It appeals to a similar demographic and rivals the Honda for reliability while usually edging it for comfort. Three rows of seats in a swept-back body with a hint of minivan in its proportions are repeats. So is a choice of three powertrains: a four cylinder of around 187 horsepower (probably again relegated to front-drive only) rated some 25 mpg city/highway combined, a V-6 with about 270 horsepower rated 23 mpg combined with front-drive and 22 with AWD, and a gas-electric hybrid also with about 270 horsepower and AWD, but rated perhaps 30/30/30 mpg. Estimated base-price range for the 2014 Highlander is $30,000-$41,000 for gas models and $42,000-$48,000 for the Hybrid.