The family-friendly Honda Pilot is a large three-row SUV that can haul up to eight people and tow up to 5,000 pounds worth of their stuff to the beach, the mountains or just to grandma’s house.

The venerable Pilot has earned its reputation as a roomy, versatile and utilitarian family hauler with everything it takes to make road trips easier on everyone. Available in five trim levels, buyers have plenty of choices when it comes to the 2017 Pilot.

The base LX trim starts at $30,595, the EX starts at $33,030, the EX-L is $36,455, the Touring starts at $41,670 and the top end Elite trim starts at $47,070. All are available in either 7- or 8-passenger configurations, depending on the choice of second-row seating.

The new Pilot was completely redone last year and is distinctively different from previous versions. The third-generation Pilot is sleeker and sexier but with just as much function and utility. The Pilot also gets a couple of important additions for 2017: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Families will love the Pilot’s roomy interior. Headroom is a whopping 40.1 inches in the front seats and even better in the second row at 40.2 inches. Even back in row three headroom is nearly 39 inches. I climbed back there and my 6-foot-1 frame didn’t come close to the headliner. It helps in row three that the seat is fairly short. Still, average-size adults will be comfortable in all three rows.

I really liked the interior of the test Pilot, which had durable leather seating, including captain’s chairs in row two. Soft touch materials were in all the right places, making the Pilot a comfortable road machine. Lots of storage and cubbies make it easy to get organized inside this SUV. Storage space behind the third row is improved by an under-floor storage area.

Infotainment and connectivity features are a highlight, with clear and crisp graphics. There are plenty of USB, 12v and auxiliary ports, all in convenient locations. The one knock is that audio volume and channel selection are via the touchscreen, meaning you have to tap the screen to adjust volume or change the channels. There are redundant controls on the steering wheel, but that doesn’t help the passenger. Knobs would be far better for those functions.

On the road, the 2017 Pilot is confident and sure-footed with plenty of power under the hood. There is only one engine choice, but it’s a good one.

The 2017 Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is either a 6-speed automatic or a new 9-speed automatic, depending on the trim you select. These powertrain combos deliver class-leading fuel economy ratings up to 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway. AWD is available, and is rated at one mpg less.

The 2017 Pilot has a range of advanced safety features, and one we particularly like is Honda Sensing, a suite of technologies designed to help mitigate or even prevent crashes. Available on all but the base trim, the system bundles safety technologies like LaneWatch display, a blind spot information system, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation and rear cross-traffic alert.

The 2017 Pilot earns five overall safety stars from the government and is a Top Safety Pick-Plus from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS gave the 2017 Pilot the top score of “good” in every category and a “superior” rating for front crash prevention. Those safety scores should give any parent peace of mind when their teen-agers first get behind the wheel.

The 2017 Honda Pilot is assembled in Lincoln, Ala.

2017 Honda Pilot AWD Elite


3.5-liter V6

Horsepower / Torque:

280 / 262 lb.-ft.


9-speed automatic

Base price:

$47,070 plus freight

EPA mileage estimates:

19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 mpg combined.

Estimated highway range:

507 miles