2025 Honda Pilot Review: Well-rounded three-row SUV adds Black Edition


Pros: Exceptional storage and cargo space; unique second-row functionality; refined ride; versatile and capable TrailSport; advanced AWD

Cons: Subpar acceleration with lackadaisical transmission and engine response; so-so driver assistance tech

Now in its third model year since a complete redesign, the Honda Pilot has settled into its usual position in the three-row SUV segment as a safe, solid choice that does almost everything well. It’s definitely not the most stylish pick, but unlike the preceding generation, it’s not painfully dull. Its design is chiseled, unfussy and should age well, just like the best Hondas of old. That said, the 2025 Honda Pilot spruces things up as a new/resurrected range-topping model with black-out trim and red-accented leather. There’s also our pick of the litter, the off-road-oriented TrailSport that boasts cooler looks and greater capability with minimal tradeoff.

Really, if you were looking for one word to summarize the Pilot it would be “versatile.” That applies to its ample storage up front, copious cupholders throughout and a cargo area that swallows more stuff than you’d expect. Most of all, though, it boasts a unique, removable second-row middle seat that allows the Pilot to be both a seven- and eight-passenger vehicle. No need to choose between a bench or captain’s chairs at the dealership. The seat can even be stowed under the cargo floor, although not in the TrailSport (its spare tire is too big), which is why it’s seven-passenger only. True, the seat is a bit cumbersome to remove and you probably won’t routinely remove or add it, but we guarantee you there will be moments when you’ll be thankful for it – especially if you’re leaning toward captain’s chairs in a competitor.

Choosing a Pilot should not be a slam dunk – there are a lot of great choices to consider. Some are more luxurious or less expensive, others more powerful or engaging to drive, but we think the Pilot’s well-rounded excellence makes it a great choice for a lot of people.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What’s new for 2025?

The base LX trim level is no more, meaning the base price has gone up considerably since the $41,295 Sport becomes the de facto floor. On the other end of the trim level ladder, the Pilot Black Edition (pictured above) makes its return as the new range-topping model. It builds upon the loaded Elite trim level with gloss-black 20-inch wheels, a gloss-black grille bar and mirror housings, and additional non-gloss black trim in the bumpers, doors and windows. It also gets “Black Edition” badging because of course it does. Like the previous-generation Pilot Black Edition, the interior sees special red-accented black leather along with logo’d floor mats and seats.

What are the Pilot interior and in-car technology like?

After sitting in a Hyundai Palisade, the Pilot may come across as a bit plain. There’s no showy trim or fanciful lighting. On the other hand, there is an elegance to its minimal adornment and crisp horizontal lines. It’s reminiscent of Land Rover interiors – clean, functional, timeless. It’s also much better than what was there in the last Pilot (and what survives in the Passport).

The Pilot interior is ultimately all about clever packaging and thoughtful design. In terms of storage, the front center console features a large, grippy flat space for phones or whatever, the doors have bins as well as bottle holders, there’s a little shelf in the dash, and the front seatbacks have sleeves built into them to hold your phone. There’s also clever storage in the cargo area, including a double-sided floor with carpet on one side and washable plastic on the other, but we’ll address the rest of the cargo area in the next section.

In terms of technology, the Pilot offers two touchscreen options. The Sport has a 7-inch unit that’s rather rudimentary in terms of its functionality and appearance. We like its physical buttons/knobs, though, and it runs both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those get upgraded to wireless connectivity in all other trims, which also get a 9-inch touchscreen with enhanced graphics and functionality. It certainly isn’t as impressive as what you’d find in a PalisadeKia Telluride and Jeep Grand Cherokee L, but it’s functional and generally vice free. Parents should also appreciate the CabinTalk in-car P.A. system that lets you broadcast your voice through the rear speakers. Complementing it is a convex rear seat spy mirror to keep an eye on their reactions.

How big is the Pilot?

Outside, the Pilot pretty much defines the segment average. It’s almost 5 inches longer than the Toyota Highlander and 5 inches shorter than the Chevy Traverse, matching up almost identically with the Nissan Pathfinder.

There’s nothing average about the rear seating rows, however. Pictured above, the Pilot’s novel second row is a bench seat, but as in the Honda Odyssey and the Pilot’s Acura MDX cousin, the middle seat folds to create a console-like armrest. It can also be removed completely from the car or, uniquely, stowed in a cubby built into the Pilot’s rear cargo floor. Unlike the Pilot’s competitors, there’s no need to choose between eight-passenger bench seat or seven-passenger captain’s chairs at the dealer. Bear in mind that this feature isn’t offered on the TrailSport. Its full-sized spare tire shrinks the requisite cubby enough to make stowage impossible. It effectively has captain’s chairs as a result.

The big Honda has one of the roomer cabins in the segment. Its 40 inches of legroom in the second row tops virtually every one of its competitors. Third-row legroom can be a max of 32.5 inches, making it friendly for bigger teens and adults, even in the 6-foot-plus category. This puts it ahead of the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder (both offer 28 inches) and just behind the Chevy Traverse (33.5 inches).

On paper, the Pilot has 18.6 cubic feet of space behind the back seat, but remove the double-sided floor piece (shown below with its washable plastic surface facing up) and you’re left with either 22.4 cubic feet or, in the TrailSport, 21.8. Theoretically, only the Chevy Traverse/Buick Enclave have more room back there. In our testing, we’ve found that’s not really the case, but it’s still impressive. We found that the Toyota Grand Highlander and Kia Telluride can hold just a bit more stuff, but the Pilot is indeed better than everything else in the segment. We also like that the TrailSport comes standard with raised roof rails and a trailer hitch, which opens up cargo possibilities even further.

What are the Pilot fuel economy and performance specs?

There is only one engine offered: a 3.5-liter V6 good for 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. A 10-speed automatic is standard.

The Pilot can be had in standard front-wheel drive, or with an all-wheel-drive setup dubbed i-VTM4 (standard on TrailSport and Elite, optional all other trims). It’s arguably the most advanced AWD system in the segment as it provides so-called “torque vectoring”: As much as 70% of the engine’s power can be sent to the rear axle, with 100% of that transferred to one wheel. This is not only beneficial for poor-weather traction, but benefits dry-pavement handling as well. It’s augmented on TrailSport models with a special Trail Torque Logic system and corresponding “Trail” option in the Pilot’s drive mode selection system.

Fuel economy stands at 19 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 19/25/21 with all-wheel drive. The TrailSport is lower still at 18/23/20.

The Pilot can be outfitted for towing in both 2WD and AWD configurations. 2WD towing capacity is a reasonable 3,500 pounds; opting for AWD raises that cap to 5,000. That’s on par with the segment, but shy of the Kia Telluride (5,500), 2024 Ford Explorer (5,600), Nissan Pathfinder (6,000) and Jeep Grand Cherokee L (6,200).

Pilot Elite and Pilot TrailSport

What’s the Pilot like to drive?

Three-row crossovers aren’t known for being fun to drive, and the Pilot isn’t an exception. Still, it holds its own for a gussied-up minivan, especially if you opt for the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system. Steering precision is better than most, the ride is composed and comfortable and, in general, we enjoy driving it more than everything in the segment except for the sporty Mazda CX-90 and perhaps a fully-loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

Unfortunately, the Pilot’s powertrain could use some work. Its output seems competitive enough, but the resulting acceleration is on the slow side for the segment, and making matters worse are transmission and throttle programming that aren’t adaptable enough to different situations. For instance, we had to engage the Sport driving mode when driving up a series of highway grades because the transmission was otherwise hesitant to drop down and stay in a lower gear. Many drivers won’t even know they have a Sport mode, let alone think to engage it when wanting to go faster than 55 up a hill.

As for the TrailSport, it gets a unique suspension with a 1-inch lift (for a total ground clearance of 8.3 inches) and improved approach and departure angles. The stabilizer bars, spring rates and damper valve tuning are exclusive to the TrailSport, as are a full-size spare and the 18-inch wheels (stamped with TrailSport) wrapped in Continental TerrainContact all-terrain tires. Skid plates protect the oil pan, transmission and gas tank, and Honda says they can each support the entire weight of the Pilot crashing down on a rock. The result is a vehicle that’s remarkably capable for what is fundamentally little more than a minivan, though like the Pathfinder Rock Creek or Explorer Timberline, it’s not a particularly robust off-roader. It’s the sort of SUV that can bring you all the way to the trailhead, but it won’t let you blaze your own. 

On the road, the TrailSport’s off-road tires do reduce steering precision, resulting in more steering corrections being needed on the highway (by you and the lane-centering steering assist system). Road-holding also degrades, but that’s less likely to be noticed in a family hauler. Pleasantly, the ride quality remains perfectly comfortable (unlike the Kia Telluride X-Pro that has the exact same tires) as does road noise. As a result, there’s minimal downside with going with the fun off-road model.

What other Honda Pilot reviews can I read?

Honda Pilot TrailSport Road Test: Outdoor adventure road trip to Oregon

The TrailSport is the Pilot specifically intended for outdoor adventures with its rugged tires and suspension, standard hitch and more functional roof racks. We put it all to the test on an outdoor adventure road trip from Southern California to central Oregon. 

 

2023 Honda Pilot First Drive: Broad strokes and broader shoulders

Our first drive of the Pilot, including an off-road drive in the TrailSport and broader details about its design and engineering. 

 

Honda Pilot TrailSport Luggage Test: How much fits behind the third row?

In our real-world testing, we find out how much fits behind the raised third row of the Pilot TrailSport. Despite having just a little less space than other trim levels, it manages to swallow more bags than most vehicles in the segment. 

What is the 2025 Pilot price?

The Pilot’s base price went up by nearly $4,000 for 2025, but that’s almost entirely the result of the LX trim level being discontinued. It wasn’t popular. The new base trim level becomes the Sport, meaning equipment like a heated power front seats, a leather-wrapped wheel, blind-spot warning and roof rails are now standard. It also has 20-inch wheels and blacked out trim, which disappears for the next rung up the trim ladder. So that’s odd.  

The EX-L, Touring and Elite basically follow the typical progression of more equipment with each level, while the Black Edition is basically just an Elite with black-out trim, unique wheels and red-accented leather. The TrailSport is the real outlier. W think it’s the pick of the litter for its functional and aesthetic upgrades that don’t come with significant downsides. You can read more about its extras in the above driving section.

All prices below include the $1,395 destination charge.

Sport 2WD: $41,295
Sport AWD: $43,395

EX-L 2WD: $44,595
EX-L AWD: $46,695

Touring 2WD: $48,595
Touring AWD: $50,695

TrailSport (AWD only): $50,495

Elite (AWD only): $54,175

Black Edition (AWD only): $55,675

Pilot Black Edition and Pilot TrailSport

What are the Pilot safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Standard safety equipment includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, a road departure mitigation system, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with speed-adaptive following distance, traffic sign recognition, a driver inattention monitor and automatic high beams. Collectively, these features comprise the basic “Honda Sensing” safety suite. Low speed braking control, cross-traffic monitoring and a parking sensor system are all available on higher trims. Importantly, these are greatly improved over the same systems found in the previous-generation Pilot (especially adaptive cruise control), and although not the strongest in the segment (look to Kia and Hyundai for that) they are now at least average.

The NHTSA gave the Pilot five out of five stars for overall and side crash protection, plus four stars for frontal and rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick for sufficiently high marks in all pertinent categories (it got a “Marginal” score in the updated IIHS “moderate overlap: front” test that few other vehicles have been subjected to).



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