Interior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite


Even if you have a small family and are normally quite content with a five-passenger vehicle, there are bound to be occasions when you wish you had some extra seat belts, the 2016 Honda Pilot actually offers seats for eight, writes Sally Miller Wyatt.


Even if you have a small family and are normally quite content with a five-passenger vehicle, there are bound to be occasions when you wish you had some extra seat belts. Like the time you’re offered an opportunity to attend tailgaters at football stadiums, or picnics in the city, and two families want to drive there in one car. Or when the Little League team votes to go for pizza after the game, and everyone wants to ride with you.

If enough occasions like that have cropped up in your life, you may consider a vehicle with a third row of seats. Some have seating for seven passengers, but there are others – such as the 2016 Honda Pilot – that actually offer seats for eight, and that’s a bonus on top of a bonus.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

Of course, if you’re going for the eighth seat, it will be a bit difficult to get into the third row, and it will be tight on hip room, but that will mostly be a problem for adults. The second row does offer all the leg and head room your adult passengers need, especially in our test version. Here, the second row bench seat was replaced with two captain’s chairs. This is also a nice option, because it gives an easy access aisle to the third row of seats, and keeps feuding kids from rubbing elbows too often.

Plus, even with the third row in the “up” position, you have a good amount of space in the cargo area, to carry coolers and Smokey Joes to that tailgater.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

The Honda Pilot has been completely redesigned for the 2016 model year. It has a new engine—a direct-injected 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 with Variable Cylinder Management – that is even more powerful and fuel-efficient than previous versions. The Honda Pilot is also 300 pounds lighter than other model years and, along with a redesign that improves aerodynamics, that helps the EPA rating for fuel economy by an average of two miles per gallon.

The 2016 Honda Pilot is also built on Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure and, when combined with several standard advanced safety and driver-assisted technologies, boosts the car’s collision avoidance and protection capabilities significantly. It all combines to earn the Honda Pilot high marks for their performance in government crash tests.

The Honda Pilot is available in four model choices: The LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Elite trims.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

We had the Elite version for our test drive. At the top of the line, the vehicle is loaded with all the niceties included as standard. They included such conveniences as a DVD Rear Entertainment System with 9-inch display and wireless headsets, an AM/FM/CD/HD premium audio system with 10 speakers, XM Satellite Radio, a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat with two-position memory feature, heated and ventilated front seats, push button start and push button shifter, and a power tailgate.

Safety features include all the usual dual-stage airbags, as well as a third row side curtain airbag, active front head restraints to cut down on whiplash injury, Vehicle Stability Assist, Anti-lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist, side-impact door beams, three-point safety belts, and automatic tensioning feature on the front seat belts, and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Monitor. The Honda Sensing Package – stuffed with safety features your insurance agent will love – include Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Road Departure Mitigation.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

Exterior view of the 2016 Honda Pilot AWD Elite.

Behind the wheel, you’ll find all dashboard controls are located in a center-mounted display, and a large and deep console is positioned between driver and front passenger.

On the road, you’ll notice the Honda Pilot is whisper-quiet, even at freeway speed. The V-6 engine is powerful and responsive, and this SUV handles well, even for its large size.

Overall, we found the 2016 Honda Pilot Elite to be a comfortable and very accommodating car. It comfortably handled a full load of adults, and you can’t beat that extra row of seat, should you need to bring extra passengers along.