2012 Honda Pilot Touring
2012 Honda Pilot Touring. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2012 Honda Pilot

In this day and age of cleverly named design languages and even more clever designs, the Honda Pilot is refreshingly straightforward. It neither emphasizes nor hides it functional, utilitarian shape. This is boxy done right. The 2012 update brought a revised grille that looks classier, and interior upgrades that do not include higher quality dash materials.

Inside, the functionality continues, but this time with underwhelming hard plastics on the dash in contrast with the durable but luxurious leather seats, armrests, and wheel. Those plastics are perhaps a necessary point of difference between it and Acura’s seven-seat MDX, especially in a trim such as this fully loaded Touring model that includes Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, power tailgate, navigation system, rearview camera, driver’s side memory, premium stereo with USB connection and heated second-row seats. Switchgear and layout is similar to the Acura, though less artfully arranged. The Pilot is not available with blind spot monitoring or Super-Handling AWD, just a more conventional slip and grip system with a 4WD lock for speeds under 30 km/h.

Exclusive to the Honda, however, is a cylinder deactivation system that shuts down two or three of the six cylinders in its 3.5L V6. With 250 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, the Pilot moseys along just fine at highway speeds on only three cylinders, something I saw quite frequently on my commutes.

2012 Honda Pilot Touring
2012 Honda Pilot Touring
2012 Honda Pilot Touring. Click image to enlarge

The five-speed automatic transmission works well, moving uneventfully through the gears with each departure from stoplights, but an extra ratio might mean further efficiency gains for this 2,091 kg truck. Cruising at 100 km/h, the engine turns at 2,000 rpm, and 120 shows 2,500 on the tach. The thrum of the V6 only rarely graces the cabin, but it is in no way objectionable.

The net result was 12.6 L/100 km in observed consumption, about where I usually end up relative to Transport Canada’s estimates, in this case: 12.3 city and 8.2 highway (compared to the realistic US EPA figures of 13.8 and 9.8 for city/highway driving, and 11.7 combined).

With elevated ride height and a curb weight over two tonnes, the Pilot suffers from the usual large SUV compromises; acceleration is modest, though not troubling, and the body leans through corners and wobbles over bumpy turns. The steering is typical of this class, being super light and vague, but it was fine for parking and tight city streets and didn’t raise any concerns on highways. On onramps and twisting asphalt, I found that the Pilot tended to wander because of the lack of accuracy.

That being said, the Pilot is a comfortable cruiser and goes about its intended business capably, quietly thumping over rough roads in a reassuring manner and smoothly absorbing impacts from deep potholes, although it seems somewhat brittle and stuttery over rutty gravel roads.

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