At a glance, the 2011 Honda Pilot would seem to do a fine job as a family hauler. There's plenty of space for kids and cargo, it boasts excellent crash scores and comes with Honda's sterling reputation for reliability. Yet, there are three key areas that send the Pilot to the back of the pack: its sluggish acceleration, weak brake performance and middling fuel economy. Any one on their own could be forgivable, but together, they conspire to set this Pilot adrift in a sea of very worthy competitors.
On the bright side, Honda has made a point of giving the Pilot third-row accommodations roomy enough for actual adults to fit back there; if you're looking for a minivan alternative, this one might just work out. Traditional Pilot traits like a well-cushioned ride, a smooth powertrain and optional four-wheel drive are also present and accounted for. This year's sees only minor changes in a couple of feature availabilities -- navigation is now an option on EX-L models and a rear DVD entertainment system is now included on the top-of-the-line Touring trim.
In sum, we think the 2011 Honda Pilot is an adequate choice for a midsize or large crossover SUV. But more savvy consumers who test-drive the competition will likely find that the Pilot comes up a bit short -- sterling reputation or not. The 2011 Ford Flex is a great all-around contender in this arena, offering a more comfortable interior, more features and improved performance. The 2011 Chevrolet Traverse (and its Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia twins), 2011 Hyundai Veracruz, 2011 Mazda CX-9 and 2011 Toyota Highlander are also solid picks. It might seem atypical to say it, but this Honda just isn't a very competitive pick in its class.