Trucks & SUVs

2016-2021 Honda Pilot Owners Have Nightmares About Their SUV

People tend to have a natural positive bias toward their vehicle. After all, it’s one of the most expensive purchase they’ll ever make. That explains why it’s rare to see an overall customer rating below 3.5/5 on Kelley Blue Book. However, the Honda Pilot is one of the few midsize SUVs that was heavily criticized by owners.

These concerns don’t bode well for Honda, as the Pilot has more competition now than ever with more three-row SUVs entering the market. This rings especially true considering the success of the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade. Meanwhile, the 2021 Honda Pilot is built upon an aging platform and desperately needs a redesign.

So, what complaints do owners have about the Honda Pilot, and are these critiques fair? Let’s see what KBB’s reviews have to say.

Critics vs. owners: A difference of opinion 

A 2021 Honda Pilot on display
The 2021 Honda Pilot on display | Photo via Honda

Critic reviews tell a part of a story, but customer testimonials often hold more weight. These are people who commute to work, get groceries, and pick up their kids from soccer practice in this vehicle. They know about every nook and cranny, and they’ll explain the aspects they love and the ones they hate in detail.

KBB’s Honda Pilot page can be confusing at first glance. The experts gave the Pilot a reasonably decent rating of 4.6/5. However, the owner rating of 3.3/5 raises an eyebrow, especially when considering the typically high rating vehicles tend to receive in this category.

The reviews themselves don’t tend to point to a particular issue that plagues the Honda Pilot. Instead, drivers have found a variety of problems with varying levels of severity and annoyance.

What owners say about the Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot was once a proud model, and older models like the 2014 Pilot make great used SUVs. However, everything seemed to go awry after Honda redesigned the Pilot for the 2016 model year. The manufacturer attempted to remedy the issue with a 2019 facelift, but prospective buyers are still awaiting a complete redesign.

Shuffling through KBB’s customer reviews, you’ll notice the phrase “do not buy” scattered throughout the comments. One such review with that title states, “This is my third Pilot, and I loved the 2005 and 2014. This one is garbage. Honda’s quality is gone.”

This reviewer, along with several others, complained of electrical problems and a crackling audio system. Indeed, these are annoying issues, but other troubles seem even more worrisome, as the vehicle appears to have problems across the board.

An owner of a 2019 Honda Pilot Touring, unfortunately, witnessed many of these faults within two years of owning the SUV. This reviewer said, “We had to replace the seat armrest (stitches were coming apart), center speaker casing (broken), passenger headlight (filled with condensation), radio amplifier and tuner (crackling issue), several recalls, transmission whining noises required removal and reinstallation of all underbody panels. In total, it spent over 30 days out of service for repairs with constant visits to the dealer to address issues. If you are looking for a reliable vehicle, get a Toyota.”

Notably, the reviews weren’t all negative. Many owners applauded the Honda Pilot’s dependable engine and transmission. After all, reliability is a significant factor in Honda’s stellar reputation.

Is the Honda Pilot worthy of consideration?

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Everyone wants a dependable vehicle. In some ways, the Pilot may fill that role, as it will likely avoid costly powertrain problems down the road. However, electrical issues and quality issues can drive a person crazy. 
Additionally, the Pilot lacks value for its price, especially compared to rival models like the Kia Telluride. Unless you don’t mind day-to-day annoyances, it’d be best to explore another three-row SUV for your family.