2014 Honda Pilot Touring. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
I recently spent a week in the 2014 Honda Pilot. This eight-seater three-row Alabama-built SUV has been around since 2009 in its current form, although it got treated to a mild facelift and some interior changes in 2012. Despite the mild updates, I wondered whether it remains competitive with the current crop of vicious competition. I spent part of the week commuting to and from work, and threw in a little family road trip of over 600 highway kilometres.
This generation of Pilot became much more muscular and truck-ish and I appreciate the boxier exterior. Lines are simple and basic. There are no swoopy tricks, no fancy-shmancy things going on. It looks rugged enough and refined enough – at the same time.
I found the Pilot to be surprisingly large when I stood next to it. It looks good in white diamond pearl as my review sample was, and the Touring edition gets handsome 18-inch wheels with 235/60-sized tires.
Honda did a good job with the overall package, and the Pilot’s bolder beveled lines still look good. The styling comes across as honest, and it suits the vehicle and its purpose.
The cabin is large. Though not as spacious as I expected, the headroom is fine (I’m 5’10″). Once I made my way over the high door sill lip, I was a bit taken aback by the interior. The materials feel dated as does the styling and honestly, it’s not a very exciting place to be. The entire dash is crafted out of hard plastics with cheaper-feeling textures. You’ll find a bit of soft plastic and padding on small parts of the door panels but this falls far behind the current competition. Thankfully, the fit and finish remains excellent.
I found the heated leather seats very comfortable and supportive, including on longer road trips. They are power-adjustable, and the driver’s side gets a two-position memory. The steering wheel is comfortable and nicely sculpted with buttons for the cruise control, driver information screen, media and phone. Honda has an interesting take on the Pilot’s gauges – they are clear plastic pieces with dark markings floating over a white background. I thought it worked well and was easy to read.
2014 Honda Pilot Touring dashboard & centre stack. Click image to enlarge
OK, so let’s just get this out of the way. The centre stack is a mess. Frankly, it’s a nightmare. I’m not sure how Honda looked at the 47 separate buttons, knobs and switches and decided, yes, this is ergonomically sound in terms of driving and keeping their eyes on the road – let’s move ahead with this. It is virtually impossible to do anything without taking your eyes on the road, and then you’re trying to focus on this dizzying array of switchgear and buttonry. There’s a screen set into a hooded bin at the top, which you control with Honda’s rotary joystick knob and some hard buttons at the very bottom of the stack. It handles your audio, phone, navigation and some fuel efficiency read-outs. The user interface is decent once you get used to it. The sound system, comprised of 650 watts of amplification and 10 speakers, sounds fine but isn’t anything special. Below the screen (and making up the bulk of the mess) are controls for media and the tri-zone automatic climate control. There’s also a 12V plug under a flip-up lid and the gear selector on the left side.
2014 Honda Pilot Touring centre console. Click image to enlarge
Overhead is a standard size tilt/slide sunroof. Driver assistance tech is limited to front and rear distance sensors with audible and visual warnings as well as a back-up camera, all of which make parking easier.
The Pilot does an outstanding job at offering in-cabin storage. For starters, you get a cubbyhole in the centre stack, a decent glove compartment and a divided open shelf in front of the passenger – perfect for throwing a phone and personal effects into. But the kicker is the entire centre console, which is covered by a scrolling lid. You can open the lid to various stops, exposing more and more of the wonderful storage options below. Slide the cover back to the first step and you get a deep drop-in bin. Slide it further forward and you’ll adds dual cupholders. Open it all the way, and you’ll also find a large drop-in bin at front of console. There’s also a very large armrest – under the lid is a little carpeted bin with a 12V plug, 115V household plug (yes!) and the USB and auxiliary connectors.