The 2021 Honda Pilot Will Face More Competition Than Ever

If you don’t want to go the minivan route for your transportation needs, you can always try a midsize family SUV like the 2021 Honda Pilot. With three rows, all-wheel drive, and good height and ground clearance, it has a lot to offer families and those who frequently need to move people and cargo. When the latest Pilot generation debuted in 2016, its style and cargo space made it the go-to midsize SUV according to Edmunds.

While the 2021 Honda Pilot indeed has a lot to offer, it received only minimal updates for its latest model year. Does it still have what it takes to beat out the competition in its growing segment? 

The 2021 Honda Pilot

Honda’s biggest and most proficient SUV, the 2021 Honda Pilot can seat up to eight people in its three rows of comfy seats. The third-row can actually seat adults too. It offers a good amount of cargo space with more when you need it if you fold down the back row of seats. The engine is athletic and its fuel economy is decent. It has good height and ground clearance which are all important to crossover fans.

The latest Pilot has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque that’s standard on all but the Black Edition and Elite models. It comes with front-wheel drive as standard with available all-wheel drive. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models in 2021.

The V6 gives the Pilot a lot of power and it sounds good. It plays nice with the new transmission. The sheer size of the SUV, according to Car and Driver, makes it feel awkward when cornering. The Pilot has an impressive list of standard driver-assist features and popular tech. 

Aside from the new standard nine-speed transmission, the EX and Touring models get new 20-inch black wheels, a foot-activated power tailgate, and wireless charging for devices. The 2021 Honda Pilot also features an automatic stop-start system, paddle shifters, and dual-zone climate control. The price as a result rose $600.

The 2021 Pilot’s competition

The midsize SUV segment is already crowded. Is the new Honda Pilot going to be able to compete with smarter peers like the Kia Telluride or the Hyundai Palisade? 

Industry insiders agree that the 2021 Kia Telluride is an excellent choice. It has an upscale appearance and popular features without the luxury price tag. With three rows, it’s more than capable of getting people where they need to go.

The Telluride manages to beat out the competition in the top categories. It may not have the best driving behavior according to U.S. News, but for moving people and their stuff comfortably? It’s hard to find an SUV that can do it better.

The 2021 Hyundai Palisade shares its platform with the Telluride but manages to be clearly unique. It has all the good things Telluride is selling like a smooth composed ride and lots of space. But the new Palisade takes the upscale approach to the next level with top trims that are luxurious. Regardless of the model, you get a trendy three-row SUV with all the driver-assist features and tech you could want.

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It seems that Honda made a gamble when they decided to keep updates to the 2021 models of their popular Pilot to a minimum. It was already facing strong competition with the Toyota Highlander and the Mazda CX-9. Can it hold its own against the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade with their upscale attitude and versatility?

With a predicted reliability that’s less than appealing, the 2021 Honda Pilot seems to be banking greatly on its reputation as a good SUV. Yes, it’s spacious with plenty of room for cargo. Its V6 powertrain offers good power and the gas mileage is reasonable. But with competitors who have swankier cabins, better handling, and more standard features, is the 2021 Honda Pilot enough?