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Auto Show:  2015 Chicago Auto Show

2016 Honda Pilot: Chicago Auto Show

author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2015

What Is It?

The fully redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot is a midsize SUV that's now entering its third generation. Originally on sale in 2003 and redesigned in 2008, the 2016 Pilot gains new styling, new features and an updated powertrain.

On the outside, the 2016 Pilot is hugely changed from its predecessor. It doesn't share any real resemblance, instead offering a totally new look on the front, back and sides. The SUV also offers new wheel designs, bolder headlights and new LED taillights in back.

The Pilot makes significant changes inside, too. Gone is last year's unusually large center control stack, which also included the transmission lever. It's replaced by a far more luxurious center stack with a traditional center console. The shift lever is also gone, replaced by a series of buttons typically found on high-end models from Honda's Acura luxury brand.

The Pilot of course gains a series of new features with its latest redesign. In addition to higher-grade interior materials, the Pilot adds a newly available panoramic sunroof, push-button starting with remote engine start, an available heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, and a new 8-inch touchscreen mounted in the center control stack.

Under the hood, the new Pilot will use a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to either a 6-speed automatic transmission, or in top-level trims, a smoother, more efficient 9-speed automatic. Although Honda hasn't yet announced horsepower numbers, the automaker noted that the new engine will offer best-in-class fuel economy.

How Much?

Although Honda hasn't announced pricing, we wouldn't expect a major increase from today's base price of around $31,000 with shipping.

When Can You Get It?

This year

Add It to Your Shopping List Because...

Although the outgoing Pilot was getting tremendously long in the tooth, Honda's Pilot SUV has typically been a benchmark in the midsize-crossover segment. It's also been one of the few must-shop models for just about any driver interested in a new family SUV. The 2016 Honda Pilot seems to gain back that esteemed title, adding crucial new features and adopting a more modern look, both inside and out. Although we haven't yet driven the new Pilot, we suspect that it will quickly become a major player in the midsize-SUV realm.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Explorer -- Although it's a little larger than the Pilot, the Ford Explorer is a popular midsize-to-large SUV with 3-row seating and several available trim levels and powertrains. Despite its aging design, it's still one of our favorite models and worth a look.

2015 Toyota Highlander -- Another of the gold standard of midsize SUVs, the Highlander offers several engine choices, 3-row seating and a wide range of popular equipment. If you're considering the Pilot, you should have the Highlander on your shopping list, too.

Used Acura MDX -- Essentially a luxurious version of the Honda Pilot, Acura's midsize MDX is a 3-row crossover with high-end appointments and a lot of upscale features. Pricing is higher than the Pilot's, though, so you may want to consider a used model.

Used Infiniti QX60/JX35 -- The 3-row Infiniti QX60 offers a roomy interior, comfortable ride, and lots of high-end features and safety gadgets. Pricing is steep, though, so a used model might be a better choice for most shoppers.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Honda Pilot: Chicago Auto Show - Autotrader