By on November 29, 2017

2017 Honda Pilot LX

Yes, I know. It’s a crossover and most TTAC readers would rather be locked in a room with a rabid weasel than drive a three-row box that’s oriented towards families. The rest of the nation does not feel this way, however, with American shoppers hoovering up these types of machines at an exponential rate.

Three rows, nearly 300 horsepower, and 3.5 liters: let’s see what a base model Honda Pilot offers for just over $30,000.

The three-row crossover segment is cutthroat, not unlike the minivan market of yore. Back when suburbs were awash with examples of the Dodge Caravan, manufacturers were in a constant state of one-upmanship to placate the demands of buyers. Today, of course, their attention has largely shifted to seven-seaters of a different ilk.

A base model Pilot checks in at $30,745, bringing with it a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine making 280 horsepower, lashed to Honda’s six-speed automatic. This is only $1,000 dearer than the cheapest V6-powered Kia Sorento, and we all know which brand will hang onto a shred of resale value come trade-in time. The 3.5-liter is the engine installed in all Pilots across the board.

At this end of the spectrum, the Pilot is a front-drive affair, meaning buyers in the snow belt had better set aside some cheddar for a good set of winter tires. Actually, all drivers in the snow belt should have winter rubber, because all-wheel drive simply gets a person up to crashing speed more quickly.

In terms of driver assists, the usual cadre of stability and traction controls keep things on the straight and narrow, while a backup camera spies the situation astern. Jack needn’t weep for LaneWatch on a Pilot until the EX trim.

2017 Honda Pilot LX

Push button start, cruise control, and a tilt/telescope wheel are all standard — as they should be when one is playing in the $30,000 league. Pleasant surprises include a trick hidden storage well and subwoofer to bump the parent’s EDM music after they’ve dropped the kids off at daycare. The Kia has a smaller infotainment screen than the Honda and a one-touch power window only for the driver, compared to express service on both the driver and passenger windows in the big H.

A palette of colors are available, ranging from milquetoast greyscale to more interesting blues and reds. Depending on the hue selected, one will find themselves sitting in either a grey or beige cloth interior.

By pricing the LX just above $30,000 while also endowing it with a nearly 300 hp engine, Honda has erased a lot of the value argument once held high by Korean brands. That equation starts to evaporate the further one moves up the food chain but here, in the Ace of Base domain, the Pilot makes a strong case for itself.

[Images: Honda]

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35 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Honda Pilot LX...”

  • avatar

    This is what mystifies me about crossovers – I was their target demographic. College educated? Check. Decent income? Check. Two kids and two dogs? Check, check.

    Know how many times I actually needed a three-row crossover? I’ll be generous and go with five times. The rest of the time, we rolled in compact sedans or an old Volvo wagon. And my kids are doing just fine. Two kids and all their stuff would fit perfectly well in my Jetta.

    Sometimes I want to tell folks who buy these they’d be better off buying a Camry and putting the difference in the kids’ 529s…

    • 0 avatar

      It may be hard for you, but imagine for a moment that other people have different values, needs and preferences from you.

      Almost nobody buys purely what they need.

      • 0 avatar

        I hear you, LeMansteve, and if I had three kids, my tune might be different. But I see folks with two kids toolin’ around in them all the time.

        I see ’em in Suburbans and four door pickups too.

        It’s their money, I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      Where are you supposed to put a spouse, 2 kids, 2 dogs, and luggage in a Jetta? Are these small lap dogs?

      I mean I know it could be done, I’ve done many-a-trip with 5 or even 6 people in a tin-can Lada, but certainly not necessary when much more comfortable choices are available (see: Honda Pilot).

      • 0 avatar

        Matter of fact, they were small dogs!

        I did a Denver-Chicago trip twice in an ’05 Focus sedan when the kids were seven and eleven, respectively. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a long way from awful or uncomfortable. These days, pretty much any modern compact has a ton more passenger room and cargo space than that old Focus did; something like an Accord or Camry would be downright roomy. My kids are 17 and 21 today (and both are basically as tall as I am), and we could knock out a long trip in my Jetta with little difficulty.

        Any of those cost a LOT less than one of these three row CUVs. And, yes, I know, “it’s their money.” I’m just glad I didn’t blow mine on more car than I needed, just to make a fashion statement. I’d rather put the money somewhere else.

        If one of these is 30 grand, and you could pick up something like a Camry for 20, that’s 10 grand that you could make some money on in the long run…or save it so the kid in the third row has a little something set aside for college.

        Just sayin’.

        • 0 avatar

          I think many are choosing the middle ground of a compact CUV: cheaper, more efficient and not as big as a midsize SUV, but with more utility (like hauling random crap from Ikea, etc) than a sedan, and with the upright seating that many people like.

    • 0 avatar

      “…This is only $1,000 dearer than the cheapest V6-powered Kia Sorento, and we all know which brand will hang onto a shred of resale value come trade-in time.”

      Or at least know how to their own financial planning becuase car dot com has the $30K Sorento at $23K or 25% off MSRP there was one listed at $19,999 brand new. That is 33% off or figure on a 3-year lease the banks say most vehicles retain about 60% of their value. The Kia already has that covered if at three years it was worth nothing, obviously it is not.

      TTAC journalist need to stop fluffy falcons about Honda residuals.

    • 0 avatar

      FreedMike, I’m going to postulate that you were blessed with one of those rarest of women for a spouse: A woman not preoccupied with fashion. I, too, have a wife who never felt the need to ditch a vehicle because it became unstylish. We only recently succumbed to the CUV craze because it was getting harder for her to get in and out of a car, especially after a bad broken leg. The higher seating makes it easier to do. And even I had noticed a twinge in the knee sometimes. I just wish that I could leverage the declining popularity of sedans to strike a good deal on a replacement for my old car but I’ll probably opt for something taller as well.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    That is one bloated and ungainly station wagon.

    The reasons these have become the trendy alternative to minivans and wagons escape me, because it sure isn’t the aesthetics. That thing screams mommy-mobile as loudly as the 1980 Country Squire wagons and 1993 Grand Caravans my generation is supposedly running away from.

    You’ll win a fair amount of stoplight drag races in this, though.

    • 0 avatar

      At least it still has the clean motif of the previous generation CR-V. Move to the new nose from the smaller car and yes…ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t explain it but my mid 30s with 3 kids daughter would drive this in a heartbeat (she’s actually in a Traverse) and consider any minivan an affront to her dignity. Impossible to understand but that’s what market research is all about, right?

  • avatar

    If your going to get a vehicle in this category, might as well get one which is festooned with a minimum of slashes and stylistic knick knacks.

  • avatar

    Almost all of these three-row SUV/CUV’s are starting to look alike.
    The manufacturers should all just get together – build one – and slap their own names/badges on them and be done.
    Save a ton of money.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I would really like to have one in the driveway, but it is above my spending limit.

    1) 3 kids and a dog. So the 3rd row gets used, actually more often than not.
    2) Honda re-sale.
    3) Much easier to get into and out of than a sedan or wagon.

    And as regards to ‘mommy mobile’ I am sick of the ‘poseurs’ who use that phrase as an excuse to not purchase a vehicle. If you are a ‘mommy’ (or ‘daddy’) who uses their vehicle to shuttle kids to and from their activities and get groceries, then why pretend that you are something different and compromise on utility?????? Which of course is why a minivan still should reign supreme.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Interesting interpretation of poseur. My comment was based on the people I know who bought a 3-row CUV (one of them a Pilot) because they wanted to avoid the minivan stigma. To superficially retain some of the young-and-active vibe of the pre-child era by driving an “SUV” rather than the van that would make them feel old because they were shuttled around in them as kids. And they are willing to put up with the utilitarian compromises of a CUV in order to play out this minor charade. They are, in your words “pretending that they are something they are not”. And somewhat ironically, they are doing it in these egg-shaped vehicles that don’t look any more rugged or unique than the minivans they have an aversion to.

    • 0 avatar

      If I had three kids, I’d take a minivan over one of these.

      But for a family of four, you really don’t need anything bigger than a midsizer, especially if it’s a contemporary one.

  • avatar

    You know, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a Honda Pilot in the wild. Are they that vanilla?

    • 0 avatar

      I never paid attention until I got my gen 1 (an ’03) this fall. Now I see them EVERYWHERE, particularly the gen 1s and 2s, but certainly people are buying these newest ones as well.

      • 0 avatar

        The gen 1 doesn’t bother me on the exterior (post refresh), apart from the Altezza light treatment it had for a while. The earlier version with the red rear lights and the CR-V face doesn’t work for me. In either guise, the interior doesn’t suit me, it’s all so dated looking, and on appearances looks cheap. The fixed the front end’s issues, while at the same time making the rear lights more dated. Gah!

        The gen 2 had a bit better interior, but that goofy grinning face which I never liked.

        This one is the best compromise on styling thus far.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah I will say there is a good reason that a gen 1 Highlander is worth quite a bit more with similar miles as a Pilot. The interior is definitely hard-plastic city with so-so fit and finish, but both it and the leather wear like iron. My interior looks damn near new. I’m ambivalent on the exterior, I find the bloated CRV front treatment mildly handome in a bland way, same for rear. Bland but inoffensive. My biggest qualm is the ride: this thing is way too taut! I have fresh KYB strut assemblies and shocks on, this thing is just tuned with a emphasis on reducing body lean at the expense of ride quality. Said suspension stiffness also highlights that plasticky interior, which has a number of rattles in the cold now. On the plus side I will put the seats: absolutely sublime thrones to sit on. My ’03 was the only year to not get standard heaters on the leather seats unfortunately. I like the engine/transmission as well, very smooth, fuel economy is not great but not horrible for a 4500lb AWD crossover (19-20 mixed).

          A gen 1 Highlander is much better styled IMO, has a higher quality interior, and rides much better. But for the $1500 total I have invested in this well taken care of single owner Pilot, I can’t complain!

          • 0 avatar

            Fiteen hunnit! Cheap rides.

          • 0 avatar

            The going price for a gen 1 with sub-200k miles in good condition seems to be about $5k. So yeah I’m ahead of the game and enjoying it at the moment. Not without some blood and sweat invested. I really had to fight a lower control arm bushing bolt when replacing a control arm (loose lower balljoint) a few weeks ago. The joys of cheap used car motoring! But it doesn’t have a timing belt due for about 40k miles or so and the Michelins have plenty of life left in them, all is well for now repair and maintenance-wise.

    • 0 avatar

      Look closer, they’re all over the place. Although if a new one is behind you at night, I don’t blame you if you mistake a CR-V or a Ridgeline for a Pilot.

    • 0 avatar

      There is one on one of thr blocks I walk thr dogs. Similar era as gtem and is all but rusted out around the rear fender. Seldom see them in the Greats Lakes area as they all but rusted away. Just a handful of newerr ones.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m actually pleasantly surprised with how the bodies (painted surfaces specifically) hold up on these gen 1 pilots. The real weak spot in terms of corrosion engineering is actually where the rear subframe mounts to the unibody. It’s a salt/moisture trap, one of my mounts looked about ready to tear out. Local welder did a wonderful job redoing that bit of metal on the unibody on mine for $500. I’ve now got it nicely Fluid-Filmed for the winter. I’ve only seen minor rear quarter panel rot starting on some, no real rust bucket eyesores.

      • 0 avatar

        Nope. You don’t see them in the great lakes area since they buy domestics. Very few Pilots are sold in that area. Nothing wrong with that since so many jobs in that area are from the big 3. If I moved to the great lakes area, I would sell my foreign vehicles and buy a big 3 vehicle. I would support the jobs of people in my neighborhood.

        • 0 avatar

          “I would support the jobs of people in my neighborhood.”

          In Indiana that means any number of Toyotas (Highlander, Sienna) and Hondas (Civic, CRV) and Subarus (all except Forester), and GM Doublecab halftons. And sad to say, just about all of the Japanese brands have more domestic content in terms of parts than the Chevy.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    This current generation of Pilot is so chunky and puffy looking (especially from the front 3/4s view) that I often mistake it for an Odyssey.

  • avatar

    I think this new generation of the Honda Pilot looks like hell and is a styling disaster. Honda, are your stylists smoking crack? Honda should roll some heads in the Pilot styling department. The older generations of the Honda Pilot are gems and are in demand on used car lots.

  • avatar

    Have had the base pilot 1.5 years. Plusses:
    VTEC scream and urge
    Decent ride and confident handling at 80+
    Great interstate mpg (28 observed from Texas to Ohio)
    Easy third row access, spacious
    Rotary volume knob (EX+ gets the fidgety touch screen)
    Full Bluetooth phone/music
    Control of rear HVAC only through main dashboard panel

    Honda doesn’t let you forget you skimped with the LX
    No vanity lights in the sunshade mirrors! Jeez, scrooges!
    Front seat armrests don’t allow for multiple resting angles like the EX
    No driver’s power seat!
    No lumbar support
    “I’m cheap” black doorhandles and mirror-caps
    No roof rails
    The EX+ cabin convex mirror that sits in the sunglasses holder is now blank plastic on the LX, but the sunglasses holder still has the detent when you plop it open, to remind you how cheap you were.
    No lane watch
    No ‘acoustic glass’
    No 12V power outlets in 2nd or 3rd rows
    No “winter” transmission mode (available of the six speed auto in EX+, fwd & awd)
    Control of rear HVAC only through main dashboard panel

  • avatar

    I’ve a ’14 Pilot that I’m holding on to until the Pilot no longer looks like a 5/4 scale CR-V. Faint hope, that.

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