LET THE ALL-NEW 2016 PILOT STEER YOU TO YOUR DESTINATION

By Nitish Rele

Except for the suspension and steering, it’s an all-new 2016 Honda Pilot. Here are most of the major changes compared to its predecessor in a nutshell: 30 more horsepower and 9 pounds-feet of torque; 5-speed auto is now either 6-speed or 9-speed depending on the model; weight is down by nearly 300 pounds; wheelbase is up by almost 2 inches and length almost 3.5 inches; 1.3 cubic feet of more cargo area; fuel capacity is down about 1.5 gallons. You get the picture.

And forget that boxy and almost plain appearance the Pilot debuted with in 2003. In its place is curvy and attractive look that will draw inquisitive stares like it did for us during the test-drive week. The Honda SUV is still equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine but now packing 280 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 262 pounds-feet of torque @ 4,700 rpm. Our top-level Elite was mated to a 9-speed auto transmission, which when combined with the Variable Cylinder Management, operates in three or four cylinder modes for substantial fuel savings.

As expected, it’s in the cabin that the Pilot shines with numerous bins and cubbies, some particularly cavernous, are scattered throughout. There also is a massive underfloor cargo area. Passenger volume is 153.1 cubic feet of space. Thirsty occupants have 14 beverage holders to stay hydrated. The 8-inch Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) displays information for audio, revised navigation, Bluetooth, rearview camera, fuel economy, texting, compass, clock, etc. Other amenities include tri-zone auto climate control, tilt/telescopic four-spoke leather steering wheel, second-row Captain’s chairs (or you can opt for a second-row bench) and a third-row 60/40 flat seat, 10-way power driver and four-way front-passenger seats and power tailgate.

Offered as a front-wheel (tow capacity up from 2,000 to 3,500 pounds) or all-wheel drive (tow capacity rises from 3,500 to 5,000), the rigid unit-body Pilot comes in LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Elite trims. Base price starts at $29,995 and can reach up to $46,420 for a fully loaded model with rear entertainment system and navigation. EPA fuel estimates are 19 mpg city/27 highway for FWD and 19/26 for AWD.

For an SUV that weighs about 4,300 pounds, the revamped Pilot delivers a smooth and amenable outing in comfort and style. Thanks to a fine mix of cargo-, people-hauling practicality and fuel economy, it is the ideal vehicle to park in a family garage. Brandon Honda is located at 9209 E Adamo Dr. in Tampa. Call 664-1234 or visit www.brandonhonda.com.