Honda Pilot Model Years You Should Avoid Buying

If there’s one thing Honda and its many models are known for, it’s reliability. The automaker’s Pilot SUV is no different. Over the years, it’s been a staple of Honda’s success and has proven reliable for most owners for many years. However, some model years are worse than others. Based on real Honda Pilot owners’ complaints and issues, here are the worst used Honda Pilot model years you should avoid buying.

The 2003 Honda Pilot is the worst model year

2003 Honda Pilot, one of the worst used model years you should avoid buying
2003 Honda Pilot | JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

By no means do we expect you to head out into the wild and attempt to purchase a nearly 20-year-old car. However, if you’re searching for a cheap used Honda Pilot, you might stumble upon one. We’re here to tell you to avoid buying it at all costs. This is the worst model year Pilot ever made by far. Since 2003, Car Complaints and the NHTSA users have experienced problems in excess.

More specifically, users have experienced transmission, electrical, engine, airbag, and drivetrain problems. Many more issues are reported, but these are the most substantial and expensive. For example, the NHTSA received reports of 105 instances of transmission problems, 123 electrical, and 112 related to the drivetrain. With major, costly to repair problems like these being so frequent, it’s much easier to avoid this model. Don’t buy a 2003 Pilot if you find one lying around.

Additionally, a few years later, these problems occurred again for the 2005 model year. While they aren’t quite as frequent as the 2003 model, this one is still best to avoid. Although this is another model year, we wouldn’t expect anyone to be buying right now.

Avoid buying the 2013 Honda Pilot

Entering into the more recent Pilot territory, a used 2013 Pilot isn’t a great option. Throughout the many years between 2005 and 2013, the Pilot was mainly unproblematic. However, this model sees all-too-frequent engines, brakes, drivetrain, and body problems. Additionally, Consumer Reports said that owners were far less satisfied with this model than surrounding years. For example, the 2013 Honda Pilot received a 2 out of 5 owner satisfaction rating, while the surrounding three model years received a 3 out of 5.

Additionally, the 2013 model has experienced several dangerous recalls over the years. Each one has to do with airbags or the engine, which is never something you want to hear. Finally, the 2013 Pilot isn’t as safe as many other Pilot model years. The IIHS reported that the driver-side small overlap frontal crash test resulted poorly for the Honda SUV. According to CR, it replicated a 40-mph crash in which drivers were unsafe.

Don’t buy a 2016 Pilot, either

A blue 2016 Honda Pilot SUV, one of the model years to avoid buying.
2016 Honda Pilot | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too With the 2021 Honda Pilot SE

Now we’re well into the recent model year territory. There’s a high probability you’d come across a 2016 Honda Pilot sitting on a dealer lot or being sold by a private seller online. Regardless of where you find it, do your best to avoid buying one. For the 2016 model year, Car Complaints and the NHTSA reported receiving tons of complaints about the model’s frequent issues. These include over 370 reported electrical problems, nearly 250 engine problems, and over 125 drivetrain issues.

Not only are these problems happening all-too-often, but they’re also dangerous and expensive to repair. Especially since this is only a six-year-old model, so many reports shouldn’t exist. Additionally, Consumer Reports gave the 2016 Honda Pilot a 2 out of 5 for reliability and owner satisfaction. Historically, that’s remarkably low compared to surrounding Honda Pilot model years. CR even reported frequent minor engine and transmission issues, which no one wants to deal with.

Which Honda Pilot model years to buy

Luckily, the Honda Pilot has been an excellent SUV option for most of its lifecycle. In 2022, the best Pilot model years are the most recent ones. From 2017 to the present day, each model year has been primarily unproblematic and one of the highest-rated SUVs available. For those in need of something more affordable, 2014, 2015, and even 2008 model year owners have experienced very few problems. Finding one of these in great condition should be considered an excellent find, and we recommend buying them.

The Honda Pilot is an excellent SUV with reliability and tons of space. Modern versions come filled with technology and amenities. For 2022, the Honda Pilot even offers an off-road-focused TrailSport option, which is a superb choice. While we recommend newer model years from 2017 to the present and a few older ones, there are some used Honda Pilots to avoid. Specifically, the 2003, 2005, 2013, and 2016 Honda Pilot. Those are the Honda Pilot model years you should avoid buying.