Honda seemingly supplies an SUV for every family or lifestyle, and the three-row Pilot sits at the top of the size stack. With enough seats to haul up to eight people and oodles of cargo space, the 2020 Honda Pilot is a worthy alternative to the company's minivan offering—the Odyssey. The Pilot also has a host of standard driver-assistance technology that includes adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist. Its standard V-6 powertrain is best when paired with the top-tier automatic transmission. The Pilot also has impressive fuel-economy ratings that matched the results of our real-world highway test. While the best crossovers and SUVs in this class have more style and drive better, the 2020 Honda Pilot still delivers the space and features that will satisfy most families.
What's New for 2020?
For 2020, the Honda Pilot receives the mildest of updates. Along with a small price increase, the Pilot lineup adds a new range-topping model called the Black Edition. Honda fans will recognize that the same edition is available on the Ridgeline mid-size pickup truck. Likewise, the Pilot Black Edition has standard all-wheel drive, blacked-out exterior bits, and red interior accents.
Honda Pilot Pricing and Which One to Buy
The only way to get a Pilot with the nine-speed automatic transmission, which enhances the V-6 engine's response and preserves fuel efficiency, is the Touring model. It also has a host of desirable standard features that include 20-inch wheels, ambient interior lighting, a rear entertainment system, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a hands-free power tailgate, and more. We'd add the $1900 all-wheel-drive system for its increased towing capacity (5000 pounds). A set of heated second-row captain's chairs only cost $300, which seems like a good value to us.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The V-6 has a sporty sound and plenty of power, and we liked the nine-speed automatic on the Touring and Elite trims. The Pilot is not the most ponderous three-row crossover to drive, but its considerable size can make it feel heavy when cornering. The Pilot's ride quality over sharp impacts is overly firm with the larger 20-inch wheels that are included on upper trim levels. Although we noticed that the ride gets smoother when the Pilot is loaded with people and stuff, we'd stick with the standard 18-inch wheels. Despite the harsh ride, the Pilot's lack of body control makes it feel disconnected from the road. Light steering helps the Pilot feel relatively maneuverable at parking-lot speeds, but it also contributes to the detached feel on the highway.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Fuel economy is strong within Honda's showroom, and the Pilot is very efficient for such a large and practical vehicle, according to both the EPA and our real-world testing. When equipped with all-wheel drive and the nine-speed automatic, the Pilot's 19-mpg city and 26-mpg highway EPA ratings sit atop its class, and the Elite model we tested did even better, achieving 27 mpg in our testing. Even the standard six-speed automatic is competitive, only giving up 1 mpg, per the EPA. Adding all-wheel drive drops these estimates by 1 mpg across the board, as is typical in this class.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Pilot's interior is spacious and practical and can be had with family-friendly options such as an in-cabin PA system. Most trim levels offer a three-across second row, making for eight-passenger capacity. Pricier models substitute two captain's chairs for the middle-row bench, reducing the passenger count to seven. However, the spacious third row's low bottom-seat cushion means it's only really comfortable for kids. The Pilot's dashboard layout features easy-to-use climate controls and a clearly marked gauge cluster, and there are a whopping 16 cupholders spread out among the three rows. The Pilot's high seating position makes for a commanding view of the road, while large windows and thin, unobtrusive roof pillars make for best-in-class visibility.
The Pilot has a downright cavernous cargo area and loads of useful interior cubbies. It's among the roomiest SUVs in its class, but the cargo capacity between the seven- and eight-seat configurations is different, as the Elite and seven-seat Touring have a second-row center console that can't be removed. The adjustable cargo floor can be set up for either maximum space or to create an underfloor storage compartment.
Infotainment and Connectivity
A frustrating-to-use central touchscreen is one of the Pilot's weakest links, although a much-needed volume knob has been included since 2019. The base LX's 5.0-inch display screen offers the basics, whereas EX and above trims step up to an 8.0-inch touchscreen with SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice command, and other app functions. Navigation is optional on the EX-L trim and standard on the Touring and Elite.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2020 Honda Pilot earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2019 model was also named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Every Pilot has a host of standard driver-assistance technology. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision alert with automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Honda's warranty is entirely average for its class; the Hyundai Santa Fe's, for comparison, is significantly longer, while the GMC Acadia offers the added bonus of complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance