By on May 22, 2015

2014 Honda Pilot

After U.S. sales of the Honda Pilot soared to a seven-year high in calendar year 2013, the fifth year for the second-generation Pilot, sales predictably declined 14% last year. Even in a booming SUV/CUV market, the Pilot was old and boxy; the Toyota Highlander was new and, well, less boxy.

Yet over the final two months of 2014 and the first four months of 2015, Pilot volume has shot through the roof. During this six-month span, U.S. sales of the outgoing Pilot have improved by 44%, a gain of nearly 21,000 sales, year-over-year.

You know why, of course. Deals on the Pilot finally became wonderfully attractive. Right now, for example, just as Honda finally allows publications to render their verdict following Kentucky test drives from weeks ago, American Honda is advertising lease deals on the Pilot SE AWD with payments of $289 over three years with $2,899 due at signing.

As Pilot inventory dwindles – there are fewer than 9,000 in stock at U.S. dealers according to Cars.com for a vehicle which is routinely selling more than 11,000 copies per month – dealers are offering significantly more than $5,000 off 2015 Pilots. A TrueCar Pricing Trend example suggests the average price paid for a Pilot fell by 9% over the last five months.

2016 Honda Pilot Elite

The new Pilot will be more efficient, safer, arguably more attractive, and more spacious (particularly behind the second row) but the base price for the 2016 model will only be $125 higher than it was in 2015. That slight MSRP differential ignores the out-the-door price paid for a remaining 2015 model and the no-incentives price of the brand spanking new Pilot that’ll be roaming parking lots near you very shortly.

So is now the time to buy a 2015 Honda Pilot, seven years after its launch, with crash test results like this, AWD city fuel economy of 17 mpg rather than 19, and a cargo area shaped like this rather than this?

Over the last four months, 48,103 U.S. buyers have answered with a resounding, “Yes,” to that question, compared with 30,796 at this time last year.

Healthy Pilot sales have been vital for American Honda this year, as the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-Z, Insight, Odyssey, and Ridgeline have all posted notable sales decreases. Excluding the CR-V (America’s best-selling utility vehicle) and the Pilot, Honda brand sales are down 7%, a 20,000-unit loss.

Lineup fully intact, Honda sales are up 1% through the first four months of 2015.

Indeed, the numbers for the outgoing Pilot may be so strong that, one year down the road, what should turn out to be generally healthy sales for the forthcoming third-gen Pilot may appear weak in comparison. That’s one sign of an aggressive clear-out.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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28 Comments on “Forget 2016: Is Now The Time To Buy A 2015 Honda Pilot? Many Thousands Say It Is...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    This is one of the few times I can recall where I prefer the new model over the old. Maybe 20 years of CAFE bludgeoning has impared my judgement.

    But, damn, that new one looks like an *agile* hippopotamus.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The side of it says Hyundai Veracruz to me a lot, so that’s not great. But more glass and the revised front end and interior are better. Even if the back says “I wanna be an Acura but I fail.”

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I really like the old one. This new one has zero character. Looks like a MMC Highlander.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I like the exterior of the old one and the interior of new one. The interirior of old one always kept us from getting one.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I hated the second generation since it came out in 2009. The wife owns a 2006-2008 body style which is “first generation and a half”. Even now if I could find a pristine 2008 that was in some sort of time capsule and had less than 10k miles on it I would buy it over the second generation, square hideousness. It isn’t just the looks. The second generation was much porkier than the first generation and I think it has worse gas mileage as well. The new one has peaked my interest in the Pilot again. I think it looks like a combination of CRV and Acura MDX which isn’t all that bad.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one around here who likes boxy SUVs/trucks?

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      There is a way to make boxy look good, but that ain’t it. Looks like a square insect.

      Each Japanese mfg. has one – ONE – alright-looking model, and the rest are ugly. It’s like they’re only allowed one, or something…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You know what’s a good boxy looking Japanese SUV, which looks good even today, 13 years after the end of production!?

        Trooper.

        Equally good looking is the contemporary Land Cruiser from that time.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      You are not alone my friend. I have an LR3 that I love and hope to replace with an LR4 when the time comes. I don’t think you can get much boxier than that.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I like it. I bought a gently used 2010 Highlander and greatly prefer it over the new one, the outgoing pilot looks pretty good in my eyes – the last gasp of the “1st Gen Ford Escape” type of styling. Now everything CUV is getting teardropped or pinched turded to the extreme in the name of swoopy styling and fuel economy.

        • 0 avatar
          TEXN3

          That’s so true, the only reason I considered a 15 over waiting for the 16 is that it looked like a mini version of our old Escape. However we only pull a popup and would prefer a quieter ride on long trips. This will complement our Accord quite nicely, which won’t be replaced until the kids are driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I can’t say I like boxy SUVs, but my feeling is…it’s an SUV, who cares? Boxy is built in to the formula. Sure, you can tweak it, and you get a vehicle that looks like a tweaked box. That’s why I like the Flex, it just embraces what it is.

      Also, if you want maximum space efficiency, can’t beat the box. Which is why there’s two small boxes in my driveway. They don’t look like much, but they get it done.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    2015 Pilot is lousy vehicle. It’s big, and that is about all one can say positive. Other than that … Do you want to drive a car like this even though it is cheap? Every day you will be stuck in this box. And gas will go to $4/G tomorrow, and you really stuck at that point because nobody will want to buy it from you.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      A well-formed opinion no doubt, from someone who has certainly seen one in person or even touched it.

      /s

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I’ve touched it enough. Just for curiosity went on Edmunds, here is what they say

        Pros

        Comfortable ride; roomy third-row seat; useful interior storage areas.

        Cons

        Feels slow and cumbersome to drive; lackluster braking distances; missing a few convenience and upscale safety features; some cheap interior plastics.

        This is it. There is nothing great about it. Only noise. Looks like Edmunds supports my observations

  • avatar
    turf3

    It’s probably not a factor in the sales spike, but did anyone notice that the old version looks like there would be rear visibility, whereas the new one has those triangular rear side windows and kick-up of the beltline that hamper rear visibility?

    In another five years, will there be any cars you can see out of?

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      Agreed. It’s like the “U” in SUV/CUV is being phased out….not only with the trend of the rear-rising beltline, but also downwardly-sloping roofline. I need an SUV in which I can fit mountain bikes and dog crates inside among other things…now way I could do that with, say, the new Murano or similarly styled vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      They will have 360 degree camera-vision.

    • 0 avatar
      Mullholland

      No worries. You’ll enjoy the safety and security of gunslit windows and 360 degree-view cameras will put it all on your nav screen. Happy motoring!

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Maybe the Pilot wasn’t boxy enough. The hottest SUV around here is the Land Rover and it makes the 2015 Pilot look positively curvy.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It’s silly that the Japanese won’t make a luxury box SUV. Like BOX, similar to G-Wagen or the RR.

      Call it a Land Cruiser Type B or something. People WOULD BUY THIS. Are you listening to me Toyota?!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I thought that the Lexus LX550 was a Luxury Box SUV? It’s pretty stupid close to the G-Wagen formula

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          It’s too… aero and sculpted. That’s it, sculpted, and bulging. Not enough box and clean lines.

          (It’s an LX570 – more engine!)

          http://lavendermagazine-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/13371429745_59d31e7a58_z.jpg

          The RR has many clean lines both horizontal and vertical, because beauty.

          http://i.ytimg.com/vi/62ZfR6dMKWg/maxresdefault.jpg

          The Navigator has clean lines, but looks pleeb because it’s Ford clean lines underneath showing right through.

          http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/a1/d0/a1d07115715063587eaa1bf297257892.jpg?itok=C9TkoAfT

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Only 17 mpg out of this lil shit. Hell I get 18 on the highway with my Landcruiser and I stay cruising between 78 and 82 .

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Also the general premise of this article (great deals at retail) isn’t apparent when one looks at the transactional data from True Car—at least in southern California markets. Maybe lease customers can still play but True Car is showing that buyers in and around my zip code are paying more over the past 30 days. Maybe the great-deal bubble as popped. Or is about to inflate? Makes me think that Timothy Cain is just a pseudonym for American Honda. :)

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      I think your problem is based on your ignorant assumption that the Pilot market is purely represented by TrueCar and your zip code. TrueCar doesn’t log every sale. Several markets are clearing out Pilots at well below invoice, especially here in the Northwest and Intermountain West where a Pilot is a good buy for users.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I see these trucks on the road everyday. In my area of Queens NY most are driven by women who can just about see over the dashboard. Since they are used mostly to drop off the kids at school and shopping they clog up the various side streets. The local streets are now only wide enough for 1 single Honda truck. Today on the Northern state i had to pass 3 of these trucks doing 50 MPH in the left hand lane. Traffic was backed up behind them and drivers were taking chances trying to get past them. I will be most happy when gas increases in price and people can not afford to drive these boxes. In my part of Queens most of the houses were built before the second world war and the parking spaces are less then 17 ft in front of most houses. Park one of these trucks in front of most homes and they overlap the driveway. Then when finally pulling out into the street you can not see thru the truck if any cars are coming. I will be happy when these oversize station wagons go the way of the dodo. And please keep off my lawn.

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