Forget 2016: Is Now The Time To Buy A 2015 Honda Pilot? Many Thousands Say It Is

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

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.

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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  • Mullholland Mullholland on May 22, 2015

    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. :)

    • IDANECK IDANECK on May 22, 2015

      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.

  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on May 22, 2015

    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.

  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.
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