Your family needs space and comfort, especially when fun is on the agenda.
When my family takes a ski vacation, we have a system. We like to park at the base near a ski lift. We pop open the back and change into our ski boots right there in the parking lot. Then we carry our skis directly to the lift. No messing with the lodge or lockers.
This requires two things:
- We need to get up early because those parking spots near the lifts fill up fast!
- We need to have a car that can fit four pairs of skis, poles, boots, and helmets in the cargo space, but still leave enough room for everyone to ride comfortably.
The Honda Pilot Elite delivered all that and more on our recent ski trip to Lake Tahoe, California.
My family – me, my husband, and our two teenagers – took a spring skiing vacation at Heavenly Mountain Resort. It’s been a record-setting year for snow in Lake Tahoe (it’s still snowing in late May!) and we enjoyed February conditions in April. The Honda Pilot Elite was the perfect car for our mountain adventures.
Who This Car is For
- Families who want a luxury SUV.
- Parents looking for a stylish minivan alternative.
- Families who take frequent road trips.
- Adventurous couples or families that need serious cargo space for sporting equipment.
- Drivers who need an SUV capable of hilly, snowy or challenging roads.
What it Costs
The Honda Pilot offers a wide range of trim levels, with pricing starting at $31,450.
- LX at $31,450: Includes multi-angle rear-view camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, hill start assist, and push-button start.
- EX at $34,330: All LX features plus intelligent traction management, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, one-touch 2nd-row seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, remote engine start, and Cabin Control remote.
- EX-L at $37,760: All EX features plus power moonroof, leather-trimmed seats, navigation, 2nd-row passenger sunshades, power tailgate, two-position memory for driver’s seat, available 115-volt power outlet, and available Blu-ray rear entertainment system.
- Touring at $42,520: Includes all features available on the EX-L plus heated front and rear seats, LED headlights with auto-on/off, 9-speed automatic transmission with idle-stop, mobile hotspot capability, hands-free power tailgate, 20-inch alloy wheels, and roof rails.
- Elite at $48,020: This is the model I drove for this review. It offers all the features of the Touring trim, along with all-wheel-drive, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, LED front-row map lights, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row captain’s chairs, wireless phone charger, and auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors.
Minivan Features in a Luxury SUV
If your family is like mine, you want a car that offers plenty of space for your gear while offering a luxury feel for your passengers. I’ve always loved the interior experience of a minivan, but not the exterior “van” look.
The Honda Pilot Elite is the answer to that dilemma. It’s got seating for seven, and, like Honda’s Odyssey minivan, the Pilot features some fantastic family-friendly options.
- Captain’s chairs: I can’t say enough about my love for the option of captain’s chairs. They are comfortable, they feel luxurious, and they keep your kids separated! Families who need that extra center seat in the middle row can opt for a bench that seats three.
- Rear entertainment system: The Honda Pilot is equipped with a Blu-ray/DVD player and wireless headsets for back-seat passengers, with a drop-down screen between the two back seats.
- CabinTalk: This feature puts the driver in a true “captain” position. Just like on an airplane, if you need to get the attention of your passengers who are wearing headphones (wired or wireless) and using the rear entertainment system, you can simply tap an icon on the touchscreen. Your voice will then override the sound system in the car. Now if they could find a way to interrupt my kids’ AirPods connected to their iPhones…
- Cabin Control remote app: Passengers can download an app and control climate and radio from their smart phones.
- Third row: We didn’t use the third row since we needed all the room for our skis. But I loved that there is a button that easily slides and tilts the second-row seats forward. That makes it super easy to access the third row if you need it.
- And, of course, all the safety features you’d expect from a new car including front, side and curtain airbags, back-up camera, brake assist, blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring, lane-keep assist, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, and child seat LATCH system.
Super Comfortable Ride and So Many Cupholders!
Sitting in the driver’s seat of the Honda Pilot is a treat. First, there’s the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel that feels substantial and powerful when you put your hands on it. Then you’ll notice the bright, airy feel of the cabin. The windshield is large and, combined with the double, panoramic sunroof and big windows, gives a wonderful, atrium-like experience.
Next, you’ve got the cozy, heated and ventilated, 10-way power driver’s seat. And finally, the dash and infotainment display is customizable, clear and accessible. It was simple to sync my iPhone and just as easy to use the car’s navigation system.
The ride is smooth in the Honda Pilot. It’s a large SUV, so it’s not super peppy, but it handled the climb into the Sierra Nevada Mountains just fine. And it’s got great towing capability – another plus for adventurous families!
The other thing any family car needs is ample cupholders. I am absolutely in love with the cupholders in the Honda Pilot Elite. My family always has several beverages when we travel – water bottles, coffees, iced tea, sodas… And we often have trouble fitting them all. No problem in the Pilot.
The cupholders in this car are all upright! That might sound silly, but so many cars have “angled” cupholders, especially in the doors. This car had multiple, deep, straight-up holders in the door so we could easily secure our Starbucks Venti Pink Drink AND an iced tea for later. And I was able to keep an open can of seltzer in the driver’s side door without any spillage!
State of the Art Technology
I’ve already mentioned some of the tech in the Pilot, including the rear entertainment system, CabinTalk and the Cabin Control app. It also has Wifi hotspot capability, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The wireless phone charging pad is another great feature, though it was slow to charge my iPhone XR.
There are plenty of USB plugs and three-zone climate control to make all your passengers comfortable. Another feature I loved was the customizable touch screen that allows you to organize your touch screen to your liking!
What We Loved
- Abundant and perfectly-placed cupholders.
- Large windshield and panoramic sunroof gives the car an atrium-feel.
- Tons of cargo space.
- Captains seats.
- Easy-to-use tech with plenty of charging ports.
What You Should Know
- Seats 7 passengers.
- 3-year / 36,000 mile basic warranty.
- 5-year / 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.
- Takes regular unleaded gas.
- Average fuel economy is 19 MPG city and 26 MPG highway.
9-speed automatic transmission with a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs.
Dimensions: 197″ L x 79″ W x 71″ H
Disclosure: Honda loaned me the 2019 Pilot AWD Elite for our Lake Tahoe ski trip. All opinions are my own.