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2012 Honda Pilot

Base MSRP: $28,620 to $40,970
May 2012
by ConsumerSearch
2012 Honda Pilot

  • Reliable and fuel efficient
  • Can seat eight
  • Now an IIHS Top Safety Pick
  • Could use more power
  • Harsher ride than competition
  • Not an agile handler

Reviewers like the 2012 Honda Pilot. With the ability to carry eight passengers, smart interior packaging and an excellent reputation for reliability, the Pilot is certainly well rounded and family-friendly. Still, critics continue to be wooed by alternatives like the 2012 Dodge Durango (Base MSRP: $28,995 to $42,995) and the 2012 Mazda CX-9 (Base MSRP: $29,725 to $35,125). The Dodge is an excellent blend of comfort and ride quality, while the Mazda has been considered to be one of the best-handling SUVs available for years. 

The 2012 Pilot receives minor exterior styling updates, some simplified interior controls (addressing a recurring criticism from reviewers), additional standard features and an upgraded navigation system.

The Honda Pilot distinguishes itself with its clever interior packaging and third-row comfort. Experts appreciate the sliding second-row seating, which makes the rear seating arrangements more versatile (i.e., adult-friendly). Furthermore, both the second- and third-row seats fold flat to reveal 87 cubic feet of cargo space -- less than some competition, but the Pilot's boxy shape easily accommodates bulky items, according to testers. Also, a recent review notes that the Pilot is also the "undisputed leader when it comes to storage nooks and pockets."

Only one engine is offered in the Honda Pilot, a 3.5L V6 that makes 250 horsepower mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available. Fuel economy ranges from 20 to 21 mpg overall, based on EPA estimates.

EPA Fuel Economy Estimates

V6 2WD: 18 mpg city / 25 highway / 21 combined

V6 AWD: 17 mpg city / 24 highway /20 combined

Estimates assume the use of regular-grade gasoline. Note that the Pilot's V6 can shut down two or three of its cylinders if the driving conditions do not warrant their use (such as during highway cruising).

NHTSA Safety Ratings:

Front Impact: 4 stars

Side Impact: 5 stars

Rollover Resistance: 4 stars

Overall: 4 stars

IIHS Safety Ratings:

Front Offset Impact: Good

Side Impact: Good

Roof Strength: Good

2012 Top Safety Pick

It's noteworthy that the Pilot is now named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Prior model years did not score a Good in IIHS roof-strength tests (2009 to 2011 models are rated Marginal for roof-crush strength in the event of a rollover). This score is a clear improvement for 2012.

For additional details, see our 2010 review

Other than the minor tweaks mentioned in the introduction, the 2012 Pilot is essentially the same vehicle we've seen the last few years. See our full review of the 2010 Honda Pilot for a detailed summary of reviewers' opinions on Honda's three-row SUV.

Our Sources


The Honda Pilot receives a variety of minor styling and feature updates for 2012, which the editors of say make the Pilot more competitive than in 2011. The vehicle's underlying basics, however (passenger and cargo space, powertrain configurations) are unchanged.

Review: 2012 Honda Pilot, Editors of


The 2012 Honda Pilot remains very similar to the 2010 model in most ways, with the exception of minor updates to the interior, exterior and trim-level packaging. Our full report on the 2010 model year provides detailed insight into what professional reviewers think about the Honda Pilot.

Review: 2010 Honda Pilot, Editors of, July 2010


The 2012 Honda Pilot is projected to deliver overall fuel economy of 20 to 21 mpg based on EPA estimates, depending on whether the optional all-wheel-drive system is selected.

Review: 2012 Honda Pilot, U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency


In crash tests conducted by this government agency, the Pilot performs well enough to earn an overall rating of 4 stars (out of a possible 5).

Review: 2012 Honda Pilot, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names the 2012 Honda Pilot a Top Safety Pick. This reflects an improvement -- the 2012 Pilot now gets the highest rating of Good in the roof-strength test, an improvement over the Marginal score achieved by the 2009 to 2011 models.

Review: Honda Pilot, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

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