The Honda Pilot’s ‘Up-and-Down’ Reliability Is a Warning You Should Avoid It

Honda makes some of the safest, most reliable, and most affordable cars on the market, but not all Hondas were created equal. Unfortunately, that’s the case with the Honda Pilot, which, unlike its Honda peers, has some spotty ratings. Here’s a look at the Honda Pilot’s shaky reliability history and why that should give customers some pause.

The Honda Pilot has average reliability for now

A black Honda Motor Co. Passport sport utility vehicle (SUV) sits on display during a reveal event
The Honda Pilot | Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consumer Reports recently did a comparison between the Honda Pilot and one of its rivals, the Toyota Highlander. Since both cars were built and sold by highly-respected brands with great reputations for reliability and safety, it was a close race. With that being said, although Honda may have a reputation for making reliable cars, that simply is not the case for the Pilot, according to Consumer Reports.

Not only did the Pilot have a worse reliability rating than the Toyota Highlander, but the Honda Pilot also has an “up-and-down” reliability history which, Consumer Reports said, “should give shoppers pause.”

Ultimately, despite the two SUVs being very similar to each other, due to that reliability difference, as well differences in other things like handling, Consumer Reports ultimately gave the Highlander the nod. Simply put, not only did the 2021 Highlander have a better reliability rating, but it also had a more consistent reliability rating over the years than the Pilot did. And when it comes to the Pilot’s reliability history, it gets pretty rough at times.

The up and down reliability history

Like with most cars, when Honda released a new generation of the Pilot, a lot of things changed. However, unlike with many of Honda’s competitors, one of those significant changes happened with the Pilot’s reliability ratings. According to Consumer Reports, from the 2003 to 2008 model years, the Honda Pilot generally had a pretty good reliability rating.

But, when it was redesigned for the 2009 to 2015 model years, its reliability score fell off. It recovered after a while, but it got worse in the next redesign. In 2016, Honda released a new generation of the Pilot, and its reliability score fell to just one out of five, according to Consumer Reports. For the 2018 model year, Honda seems to have fixed this, as the Pilot’s reliability score was a full five out of five.

However, in the next model year, it dropped back to a two out of five. Then, in the 2020 model year, it fell even further and received a one out of five rating. For the 2021 model year, it rose to a three out of five. This constant ebb and flow of reliability scores simply doesn’t make the car seem reliable at all.

The 2021 Honda Pilot isn’t horrible, though

While, as Consumer Reports wrote, there are many better SUVs than the Honda Pilot, it’s not the worst SUV in its segment. To be clear, it’s not the best either, and overall, it was ranked seventh out of the 14 SUVs in the segment, according to Consumer Reports. This means that while customers should probably avoid the Pilot, if push comes to shove, it’s going to be a decent enough car.

This is because while the Pilot is disappointing as far as reliability goes, it’s as safe as someone would expect a Honda would be. The Pilot is equipped with a host of smart safety features after all, and they include things like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and more. 

Plus, due to the Pilot’s design, it’s actually a pretty spacious car, according to Consumer Reports. In fact, it has 48 cu. ft. of cargo room, which is significantly more than the Highlander. On top of that, its second-row seats are very roomy, and they can comfortably seat tall passengers.

While the Honda Pilot’s reliability isn’t the best, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a look or two. Keep it on your list next time you’re shopping for a vehicle.

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