The 2015 Honda Pilot is offered in five different trim levels: LX, EX, SE, EX-L and Touring. The key difference between these models is the range of convenience features and luxury appointments offered. Across the entire lineup, powertrain offerings are essentially the same, with front-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive variants of each model.
All Pilots are powered by a 250-horsepower, 3.5L V6 i-VTEC engine that utilizes variable cylinder management to allow the engine to run on just three or four cylinders when cruising or coasting in order to save fuel. This V6 is the workhorse of Honda's lineup and allows smooth, strong acceleration, even with a heavy load.
Honda's 4-wheel drive system is called VTM-4 (variable torque management). It automatically sends more power to the rear wheels when needed. For snowy driveways or muddy trails where a slow, steady grip -- and perhaps even a little slip -- would help, the system provides a "Lock" mode that works in first or second gear, up to 18 mph.
The Pilot is laid out more like a car than a truck, and that comes through with better handling, as well as a better on-road ride than might be expected from a big SUV. The rear multi-link, front-strut layout is close to what's offered in Honda's car lineup, while front ventilated and rear disc brakes, a variable-displacement steering pump and low rolling-resistance tires provide relatively lean performance on the road, with just a bit of added ruggedness. The rear suspension is mounted on a subframe, which helps isolate noise and vibration and acoustic glass helps keep out wind and road noise.
Inside, the Pilot's three rows of seating are laid out well enough to accommodate adults in all three rows, although the tallest passengers are best in the front two rows. The second and third rows have folding seatbacks and feature a 60/40 split, with cargo volume expanding to 87 cubic feet behind the front seats if everything's folded down.
Standard equipment on base Pilot LX models includes tri-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch Multi-Information Display (i-MID), Bluetooth hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio, a USB port, a rearview camera system and 2 GB of music storage, as well as cruise control, power windows and locks. EX models are still quite affordable and add a power driver's seat with improved lumbar support, a security system, body-color mirrors and door handles, a HomeLink remote garage-door opener, alloy wheels and fog lamps.
The new for 2015 SE trim adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear seat entertainment system, a moonroof and access to SiriusXM satellite radio.
EX-L and Touring models are the more luxurious models in the lineup. EX-L Pilots have leather upholstery, heated front seats, front memory settings, a power moonroof, a power tailgate and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Step all the way up to the Touring and you get roof rails, corner and backup sensors, side-mirror turn signals, a navigation system and rear entertainment system. With the hard-drive-based navigation system you get another 15 GB of space for music. Options are very limited in the Pilot lineup -- as with most Hondas -- but the navigation and entertainment systems are optional in the EX-L.