Used Car Review

2012 Honda Pilot: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions April 2015

The 2012 Honda Pilot is a roomy 8-passenger SUV with generous second- and third-row passenger room and cargo space behind the third row. It features a lift gate with a separate opening glass hatch, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, hill-start assist and a host of safety features, including four Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) positions for child safety seats, 3-row side-curtain airbags, active front-seat headrests and front airbags with a passenger-detection sensor. For 2012, Honda gave the Pilot a sleeker front appearance with a 3-bar grille, a more refined instrument panel with a more intuitive button layout and improved fuel economy. Also for 2012, 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming were extended to the EX model.

The Pilot can carry up to eight passengers and offers 87 cu ft. of cargo space with the second- and third-row seats folded. The standard 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 features Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which idles two or three cylinders during light cruising to save fuel. Honda's Active Noise Cancellation works through the audio speakers to minimize low-frequency rumble that can occur when the VCM deactivates cylinders.

The Honda Pilot is a good used-car choice for growing families with active lifestyles. It's one of the top-selling 3-row crossover SUVs.

What We Like

Secure handling; four LATCH positions for child seats; solid feel; outward visibility; comfortable seats; cargo space; improved fuel economy; reduced dash clutter

What We Don't

Flinty ride quality; white-faced gauges

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter 24-valve single-overhead-camshaft V6. Equipped with variable valve timing and a dual-stage intake manifold, the 3.5-liter V6 makes 250 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded fuel. Reduced friction on 2012 Pilots helps give 2-wheel-drive (2WD) versions an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while 4-wheel-drive (4WD) models also improve to an EPA rating of 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy. All models are equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission. 4WD versions can tow up to 4,500 pounds, while 2WD Pilots are rated to tow only 3,500 pounds.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Honda Pilot is available in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring trims.

The LX's standard equipment includes 17-in steel wheels, front and rear air conditioning with air filtration, auto headlamps, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder and subwoofer, a compass, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a trailer-hitch receiver, 3-row seating for eight passengers, cloth upholstery, split fold-flat second- and third-row bench seats, dual front- and side-impact airbags, overhead airbags and power locks, windows and mirrors. For 2012, the LX adds AAC audio-file playback from data discs to the CD player.

The EX trim upgrades to 18-in alloy wheels, the HomeLink system, automatic climate control, a power driver's seat with power lumbar support, steering-wheel audio buttons, SiriusXM radio, heated door mirrors, a security system, fog lamps and an outside-temperature gauge. New for 2012 on the EX are Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and audio streaming.

The EX-L adds a new full-color 8-in multi-information display, a USB interface, a power moonroof, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, first- and second-row leather seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, a backup camera, a reverse-sensing system and a new power lift gate. Optional EX-L packages add satellite-linked navigation, an upgraded 10-speaker surround-sound audio system and a rear entertainment system.

Opting for the Touring trim brings satellite-linked navigation, turn-signal-indicator mirrors, roof rails, corner and backup sensors, driver's seat memory, rear-seat entertainment and the upgraded 10-speaker surround-sound audio system.

Pricing

The Pilot 3-row crossover SUV has been a top seller in its class, meaning that the availability and selection of used examples should be good. Honda's excellent Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive (VTM-4) gives the SUV all-weather capability for northern climes with snowy weather, but the standard front-drive system with traction control is sufficient for most driving situations and doesn't hurt its resale value.

To get a good idea of the 2012 Pilot's price range, investigate the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following recalls for the 2012 Pilot:

A leaking fuel-tank valve may create a fire risk.

Missing driver's-airbag rivets can alter airbag deployment in an accident, increasing injury risk.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA crash tests gave the 2012 Pilot a 4-star overall rating, with a 5-star rating for side impacts but four stars for frontal impacts and rollover performance.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2012 Pilot Good ratings for moderate-overlap front and side impacts, as well as roof strength, head restraints and seats, but a Poor rating for small-overlap front impacts.

American Honda Motor Company sold the 2012 Pilot with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-distance corrosion-perforation warranty.

Honda certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles must be younger than 6 years and have no more than 80,000 miles on the odometer. Every CPO Pilot undergoes a 150-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, extending the basic new-car warranty to 48 months or 48,000 miles and powertrain coverage to 7 years or 100,000 miles from the date when the vehicle was first sold, whichever occurs first.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Ford Explorer -- The Taurus-based 7-passenger Explorer gets a new 240-hp 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, EPA-rated at 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. Continued is a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic combo that's capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. The MyFord Touch infotainment system on these models can be buggy and has required many service updates.

2012 Toyota Highlander -- Toyota's car-based midsize crossover offers solid value for families on the move. The 187-hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder gets the best fuel economy, but the 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 delivers silky performance. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor, but its cramped design is for children only. A Center Stow second-row seat provides a small center-position seat for a child, and it can be stowed away when not needed.

Autotrader's Advice

The Pilot has consistently rated highly among 3-row crossover SUVs. In terms of livability, the EX or EX-L are smart choices because they include most of the equipment that buyers are looking for. The EX comes with alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, SiriusXM radio and auto air conditioning. The EX-L adds heated leather seats, a power front passenger seat and a backup camera, plus the option of navigation and rear entertainment.

Look for well-maintained lower-mileage examples, or even better, a Honda certified pre-owned Pilot. Always get a vehicle-history report. Make sure the Pilot you are considering has had all applicable safety recalls performed by the dealer.

Find a Honda Pilot for sale

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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.
2012 Honda Pilot: Used Car Review - Autotrader