Last year, the 2020 Honda Pilot was launched to relatively positive reception from fans and critics alike. However, many of the changes were subtle and mostly not too far differentiated from the 2019 model, which added a variety of features and functions to this midsize SUV with a strong emphasis on safety and connectivity. This year, Honda is looking to take things a step further, and with the introduction of the new 2021 Honda Pilot, a few key differences stick out, namely a more robust and feature-packed base model and the addition of a whole new trim. Honda has always been held in high regard as one of if not the most reliable vehicle manufacturers making them the brand of choice for millions of fans and enthusiasts alike.
The 2020 Honda Pilot continued the trend of this midsize SUV being exceptional at what it does best: providing a reliable, moderately powered vehicle coupled with a spacious interior and ample fuel efficiency. In a world with an ever-growing number of midsize SUVs hitting the market, it can sometimes be difficult to gauge the pros and the cons when two vehicles are compared side-by-side. However, in an effort to flip the script, the work Honda has put into the next iteration is significantly visible with the 2021 Honda Pilot. Throughout an extensive lineup of SUVs offered by Honda, no other SUV made by this legendary manufacturer will provide you with the same capabilities and size as the Pilot. Simply speaking, if you’re looking for a midsize SUV for functions such as cargo, transportation, and reliability, then you’ll find everything you’re looking for with the newest 2021 Honda Pilot.
The Available Trims
As is always the case, the Honda Pilot can seat a maximum of eight passengers comfortably, including adults, which isn’t always a given with third-row SUVs. The Pilot can also be configured to include a seven-seat arrangement, an option that first made its appearance in 2016 for the lineup. This year, the 2021 Pilot gets a new trim dubbed Special Edition, which includes a wireless charging pad for cell phones that support the feature plus a hands-free liftgate, the perfect way to open your trunk when your hands are full. Along with 20-inch black alloy wheels and black roof rails, the Special Edition is a worthy addition to the lineup.
Additionally, every trim from the 2020 Honda Pilot translates over to this year’s model, including the base LX, which starts at an MSRP of $32,250. Although this price is slightly higher than the $31,650 MSRP of the base 2020 Pilot, the newly included features more than accommodate the increased price tag. The next available trims are EX, which adds features such as an infotainment center and the EX-L, which comes with a host of interior upgrades such as a one-touch power moonroof and leather-trimmed seats among others.
The Touring makes its return with an included rear entertainment system with an included blu-ray player, heated seats all around, and an intense premium audio system that pumps 590W of power to ten high-quality speakers that are fitted throughout the cabin, a must-have for any audio fanatic. The next trim is the Elite, and with this trim comes an immersive panoramic roof, a heated steering wheel, plus this trim adds ventilation to the heated seats and much more. The last trim available for the Pilot is the Black Edition, which starts at an MSRP of $49,920 and gives the Pilot a sleek and classy exterior with black exterior trim and leather trim. With the addition of 20-inch black alloy wheels and ambient LED lights situated in your interior that give off a red glow, this trim is simply unmatched in regards to overall aesthetics.
Not much has changed regarding the Pilot’s performance as only one engine is offered, and this has been the same setup since 2016. The engine in mention is the 3.5L V6 that produces 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, but what differentiates the 2021 Pilot against its predecessors is the nine-speed automatic transmission that comes standard across the entire lineup. Compared to last year, which paired the lower-priced trims with a six-speed automatic transmission, reserving the nine-speed for the more expensive trims.
The 2021 Pilot also retains identical fuel economy ratings to its predecessors since 2016 with AWD models achieving 19 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway and 2WD variants achieving 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway. These ratings are quite respectable for its class, albeit we most likely won’t be seeing a proper revolutionary upgrade in this regard until the next generation of the Honda Pilot.
Technology & Safety
Technology features in the 2021 Honda Pilot are of the same variety as the previous model with the base LX trim coming standard with a 5-inch screen, Bluetooth, and an ample seven-speaker sound system. However, it’s usually recommended for Pilot drivers to opt for a trim that contains the fully-fledged HondaLink infotainment center, which includes an 8-inch display with touch controls.
This infotainment center also has Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto integrated, which are two software suites for iPhones and Android phones developed by Apple and Google, respectively. There are many notable reasons you should consider opting for a trim with CarPlay and Auto if your device is compatible, including hands-free phone calls and text messages, along with navigation, media playback, and more. Further upgrades include an available premium audio system with a total of ten built-in speakers, which is a worthy upgrade for any Honda Pilot driver.
Honda Sensing Suite is present on all trims, which lend the Pilot a significant amount of safety features, even at a base level. Safety features that you’ll be getting no matter what include: a road departure mitigation system and lane departure warning accompanied by a lane-keeping assist system, which provides subtle input to your steering if the system detects an unintended crossing of lanes. Additionally, a collision mitigation braking system is included, which utilizes sensors situated on the front of the Pilot and will assist in applying the brakes if it detects an imminent collision.
Adaptive cruise control is standard and dynamically changes your speed to maintain a preset distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Auto high-beam headlights come included and automatically switch between high and low beams depending on road visibility or any oncoming traffic. Lastly, forward collision warning comes included, which sends off alerts visually and or auditorily if it detects an imminent impact. All and all, the 2021 Honda Pilot is a very reliable vehicle filled with high-end safety features.
The 2021 Honda Pilot shows that Honda is not shying away from evolving their midsize SUVs, even if the upgrades over previous years could be seen as nominal. Honda has made some significant changes over the 2020 Honda Pilot, such as the aforementioned nine-speed automatic transmission that now comes standard, even at the base level. Regardless, the 2021 Honda Pilot is an excellent choice for any aspiring SUV shopper, and you’re sure to enjoy your time with it.