With the baby on the way, the 2 door Accord and S2000 are just not going to cut it. So, I’m giving the S2000 to my brother and will eventually buy a Honda Fit to replace it. For the time being, the Honda Pilot will be my photography car. When we sell the Accord and eventually buy the Fit, I’ll likely drive the Fit while Bonnie drives the Pilot.
You may have figured out that I’m a huge Honda fan. I’ve owned three Honda motorcycles and an Acura Integra GS-R prior to the S2000 and now, the Pilot. I even got my parents to buy a Honda lawnmower. The only reason I bring this up is to make perfectly clear that I do have a certain pro-Honda bias. As a matter of fact, Bonnie has joked that I would probably name my first-born, “Honda,” if she would let me. Well, that would just be silly. But, if we ever got a dog…
Anyway, on to the Pilot. I won’t go through any of the details that you can find on any other car review site, but I will focus on the following three items that you might find useful.
- The shopping experience (research, dealer, price)
- Driving impressions
- What I would change
The shopping experience
We had considered getting an Acura MDX as well as waiting for the new Acura RDX and Honda CR-V. (Yes, I know, all Honda products.) Ultimately, I thought the MDX was too expensive and that the RDX and CR-V would be difficult to get a deal on as new models often are. The latter two were also a bit on the small side for what I thought we might need long term. Also, I prefer not to buy cars in their first model year since they occasionally have quality control issues. So at that point, we started looking more seriously at the Pilot.
(as an aside, we did briefly consider Toyota offerings as well. I wasn’t a big fan of the Highlander’s styling and it wasn’t as big as the Pilot. The new Rav 4 was promising, but I hate having the spare tire on the rear and also thought it might be a bit small. Finally, the Lexus was just too much money.)
Initially, we had gone to Mike Harvey where a friend of ours works at the Acura dealership. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get us a price that I thought was all that great. To tell you the truth, I kind of gave up on the idea for a while after that.
But then, on a whim, I clicked through the “get a quote from your local dealer” ad on the edmunds.com page and received email quotes from a few dealers around the bay area. Some offered ok deals, but then I got an offer from San Leandro Honda for $28,400 plus tax and fees. That ended up being almost $4,000 under the invoice price! Immediately, I thought, “We’re back in the game!” Unfortunately, they didn’t have the silver color that we wanted. But as luck would have it, the Oakland Honda internet sales guy called me soon after that and committed to matching the price as well as having the color I wanted.
Anyway, from there, he picked me up at work (Oakland Honda is literally down the street from my office) and we got the paperwork signed in about 30 minutes. Of course, they go through the whole extended warranty, undercoating, blah blah blah, which I turned down. But all in all, they seem to run a pretty tight ship over there.
So what started out as a shot in the dark ended up being a pretty darn good price and a pretty painless shopping experience.
The Pilot drives just like my S2000. Ok, not quite. But I will say that the Pilot is very typically Honda. All the gauges and controls are well placed and easy to read, space is used very well, and the engine is ready and willing to go when you are but rewards you with above average gas mileage. The one word I would choose to describe it is “efficient.”
Of course, everything is relative. It’s still a tall, heavy, soft SUV so don’t expect go-kart level handling or econo-car mileage. But I can definitely see myself driving this thing over the next 10 years up to Tahoe, out to the beach, down to soccer practice, and who knows what else. I love the fact that it has seating for 8 and we’ve already had two adult friends comfortable in the third row. (Granted, they’re the skinniest people I know, but still.) Otherwise, it does everything in a predictable manner and I expect will be a reliable family vehicle that I feel very comfortable putting my family in.
What I would change
As I mentioned, I am a big Honda fan, but that doesn’t mean I think everything is perfect. Here are the quibbles I have that I would love to see implemented in the next model year. (note: Mr. Honda – I’m available for consulting services at your request.)
- Make an auxiliary audio input standard. I would actually prefer that it not be ipod specific. How hard would it be to just put a little jack in the front panel somewhere?
- Have the capability to play MP3/WMA in the CD player. Is it too much to ask to catch up to 2004?
- Add trip computer functionality. Bonnie’s Accord has this built into the navigation system and it’s a pretty nice feature. How hard would it be to just use the same program in the Pilot?
That’s about all I have. I’ll probably come up with more as I spend more time with it. But all in all, I’ve been very happy with my purchase so far.
If you’re looking for a versatile family car that will serve you well for years to come, the Pilot must be near the top of your list. Especially now, with the dealer incentives available, the Pilot is a lot of car for the money.