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2013 Honda Pilot Overview
Following a big refresh for 2012, Honda's 3-row adult hauler moves into 2013 with a newly standard backup camera and a laundry list of complaints from drivers of previous years. The Pilot's fuel efficiency went up by about 2 mpg for 2012, but on top of every complaint since the second generation's debut in 2009, the 2012 efficiency shift just added "underpowered" to the list. Road noise and unfriendly gadgetry and knobs are off the list, thanks to other 2012 changes, but new features provide new frustrations—like a sunroof that sometimes doesn't close properly, among other things. If you're thinking about a Pilot for its otherwise unique and admirable qualities, make sure you thoroughly test-drive every candidate, since manufacturing inconsistencies are more common in the Pilot than is typical of Honda.
For instance, driver reviews go on for pages and pages about this and that issue with the newly tweaked engine, from not starting on the first try to a puttering feel when cruising—like you're driving 25 mph in 6th gear—due to its brand-new fuel management, which helps it achieve 18 mpg city/25 highway. The 3.5-liter V6 under the hood of every Pilot offers an ample 250 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, but more than a few astute onlookers point to its obligatory 5-speed automatic as the main culprit for its 9.1-second 0-60 time. The new fuel-sipping strategy sometimes goes awry, and it might be fixed for 2013, but rest assured getting enough power to pass or merge only at over 3,000 rpm is absolutely typical. That time doesn't change between front-wheel drive (FWD) and part-time all-wheel drive (AWD) versions, but fuel economy dips to a very competitive 17/24 when the front wheels slip or when the tranny is "locked" into using AWD. As far as AWD-capable SUVs with adequate room for 7 adults go, the 2013 Honda Pilot takes the class wings with a 525-mile range on one tank of the regular stuff.
Although the Pilot's mechanicals are built to go the distance, overall interior quality is definitely on the budget side, sometimes annoyingly so in the lower-rung LX and EX trims. Hard plastics prevail in every trim regardless, the rear rows force a more crouched position for long-legged folk (though offering ample room for most people up to about 6 feet tall) in every trim regardless, and until you ante up for the top-shelf EX-L or Touring, perhaps none of the seats would do well for all-day tripping—so 2012 drivers say again, test-drive thoroughly to determine your preferences. The knob clusters are more intuitive than pre-2012, but the hard plastic and picky software haven't changed. On the up side, the Pilot's safety standards haven't budged either, fetching second-best or best scores in everything but the second-lowest Marginal outcome for roof strength.
The base LX offers features like keyless entry, rear privacy glass, automatic headlights, a 7-speaker audio system with an Aux jack and CD/MP3 player, and the newly standard rear-view camera, but the expected trailer hitch snags a maximum towing capacity of only 2,000 pounds. When you fold the 60/40-split rear rows flat, a full 87 cubic feet open up for cargo, but if you're using those seats, the cabin offers many useful cubbies and a neat 18 cubes with easy hatch access and big-box accommodations. The EX upgrades amount to flashy features like 18-inch alloy wheels, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and 2GB of digital music storage among others, but adding the L for "leather" by springing for an EX-L also nets gadgets like an infotainment display, power liftgate, heated front seats, sunroof, auto-dimming rear-view and more. A fully-optioned EX-L differs from the Touring only by its lack of roof rails, driver memory functions and a premium 10-speaker sound system.
by Patricia Mayo
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Honda Pilot Questions
Blue Light On
I just noticed a blue recessed light was on in the front ceiling panel. I didn't find anything in the book. I have a 2013 touring pilot. The light is between the moonroof and interior light switches...