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Discussion Starter #1
Good day everyone. I am currently in the market for a mid size 8 seater vehicle. Out of all the 8 seater vehicles I have looked at, only the Toyota Highlander truly sparked my interest. After a few days of reading and research, I learned that the top two mid size family haulers are the Highlander and the Pilot. I have watched reviews and read a few threads on this forum, and have heard a lot of good things about this vehicle. There are a few Pilots in my area that are within my price range, and I am planning on giving it a test run when I get a chance. I just have a few questions that I would like answered to help me make my decision.

1) How is the long term reliability of these vehicles? I read good and bad things about the 9 speed transmission and new direct injection V6. I am planning on keeping this vehicle for 10 or so years and I will rack up a lot of miles.

2) What made you choose the Pilot instead of the rest of the competition particularly the Toyota Highlander? I read that the Highlander has a higher ride height, but the Pilot is sportier and has a wider interior.

3) Have you utilized the third row? I am planning on using the third row for a few adults in road trips. The Highlander was really tight, but overall decided it can me manageable.

4) How do you like your Pilot? Any buyers remorse or regrets?

Thank you all in advanced. I am hoping to learn more about the car and hearing your input. Good day!
 

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2017 elite, almost 21k, problem free.
I had an odyssey before so Pilot was the obvious choice.
Very comfortable, main reason is for ski trips with 4 ppl and equipment, all inside.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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My thoughts to your questions:

1. Honda's reliability reputation has definitely taken a hit on their current crop of vehicles. They have gone (in my opinion) from being up there with Toyota as one of the absolute best, to being "above average" up there with Mazda and Subaru. Still good, but trips to the repair shop will happen, and the extended warranty is no longer a wasted purchase. That said, the 9-speed transmission appears to be pretty good after major software updates after the first couple years out. Almost no one complains about it anymore. The biggest factor in V-6 Honda reliability is the cylinder deactivation system (Variable Cylinder Management). Browse any Odyssey, or Ridgeline forum and you'll see the complaints. Disable this (with a $100 aftermarket part) and you'll eliminate a world of long-term reliability problems.

2. Honda's excellent AWD system was a big factor for me over the Highlander. I live in Alaska, and the AWD has thoroughly impressed me at every turn. Third row usability was also a big factor for me too, even though I'm only putting kids back there. Highlander is near the bottom of the 3-row segment in this category. Also considered Dodge Durango and Subaru Ascent as comparable AWD SUVs.

3. Only with kids so far. I've sat in small 3rd rows before on road trips and it is a nightmare. I think the Pilot is actually ok, as long as you don't plan on putting 3 adults back there. Yes, there are 3 belts, but God help the 3 adults you cram back there for a road trip! There will be zero hip wiggle room. Cargo space behind the 3rd row sucks, but that's standard for 3-row SUVs, no matter what model. Even the big body-on-frame SUVs are terrible back there.

4. No buyers remorse, but I did buy a CPO vehicle with an extended warranty. That CPO price premium has already paid for itself in repairs, if that gives you any indication. I would not pay a "Honda premium" for one at this point, but I definitely would keep it under consideration as a good option.
 

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To me this is a simple matter... are you only cramming kids into the 3rd row or do you ever need to put adults back there? The Highlander has a kid-friendly only 3rd row and IMO does not directly compete with the Pilot, it competes with the CX-9, Sorrento, etc. with mini 3rd rows.
 

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We own a 2016 Pilot EXL with around 95k miles. It’s a quiet, has plenty of space for 5 people and their luggage or 6-7 people without luggage. I worry about the long term reliability of the vehicle specifically the transmission as it needs fluid changes approximately every 15k-20k miles to maintain smooth shifts and getting rid of the tachometer fluctuations. I have not and don’t plan on installing the S-VCM at least until our extended warranty expires. We didn’t choose the Highlander at the time due to the smallish 3rd row. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t buy the Pilot and instead would have pushed my wife more into a Lexus GX.
I know people tend to dislike vans, but the Odyssey and Sienna carry people and luggage better if you plan on carrying people in the 3rd row. We had looked at used Lexus GX which appear to be extremely reliable according to forums and Consumer Reports although the tech is dated and gas mileage will likely be 5-10 mpg less than the Pilot, and we looked at 4Runners which were too small for me (I’m around 6’4) as my head touched the headliner in every row.
 

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  • Disabling the VCM would be my priority. It will prolong the life of the engine and transmission.
  • Make sure engine mounts are not broken when you buy.
  • TSB on Fuel Injectors.
  • Change that cheap made Indonesian drive belt for a Bando.
  • Disable the VCM.
  • Timing Belt Water Pump job at 105k.
  • Spark plugs and 100k.
  • Keep a clean air filter.
  • Clean the MAF ever so often when the reading is off.
  • Be careful with those factory Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport AS tires. Not so good in highway speed turns. I'd opt for something that is more supportive of a 4800Lb vehicle.
  • Disable the VCM.
That be my punch list.
 

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We love our Pilot and despite the two problems we had(injectors and start/stop button) which Honda paid for, it is a great vehicle with lots of room and gets pretty good fuel mileage too. We purchased ours used with 50k on it and have no regrets.
 

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Since you asked :devilish:.... like you, it came down to the Highlander or Pilot for us. We bought the Pilot in 2016, which I now regret. Wish we bought the Highlander instead. Bought the Pilot because it had more interior room and the 3rd row seat had more leg room. Wife demanded a vehicle with 3 rows for the grand kids, which they love. Our adult children have used it on a few occasions, and while not comfortable they have not complained. The Highlander was slightly more $, much quieter riding, but the 3rd row seat leg room was terrible. I spent the bucks to sound deaden the Pilot and am extremely happy with that improvement. Unfortunately, last fall my motor mount needed replacing after 65K miles, which I have since learned is probably due to the engine's VCM feature. If you asked me about VCM before that, I'da said VCM who? Now that I understand what VCM is and does, I hate Honda. And unlike others on this forum, I am not a VCM disabler proponent as I resent having to resort to something like that to get the Honda owner satisfaction I mistakenly thought I was buying in the first place. Additionally we bought a CRV in 2018 that has only added to my terrible opinion of Honda as the questionable engineering patterns continue big time with that car ... fuel dilution, excessive battery drain, deliberate factory misalignment of the rear tires for enhanced "drivability". I'm tired of getting solicitations in the mail to join class action lawsuits against Honda (3 now) , "enhanced" warranty extension letters from Honda (4 now) instead of recalls that fix the problem in the first place, and continually educating my local Honda dealer with TSB's in hand that they claim they were unaware of.

Because of all my Honda bellyaching, the wife has grudgingly agreed to shop cars. We looked at both the Ascent and Highlander in recent weeks as she still insists on a 3rd row seat vehicle. I vetoed the Ascent due to the love a fair I discovered online that Ascent owners seem to have installing Cobb Tuning devices on that car to improve engine performance. Stirs up my VCM disabler feelings. Plus Consumer Reports current quality assessment aint good . Unfortunately the current Highlander 3rd row seat leg room is still terrible, and some of the higher end models seem to be plagued by excessive wind noise on the highway (which we experienced in a test drive). So our search for the holy grail of cars goes on.

My suggestion is that you test drive all the vehicles you are interested in so you experience them first hand your self, and pick what is best for you guys. The is no perfect choice these days. Good luck.
 

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Since you asked :devilish:.... like you, it came down to the Highlander or Pilot for us. We bought the Pilot in 2016, which I now regret. Wish we bought the Highlander instead. Bought the Pilot because it had more interior room and the 3rd row seat had more leg room. Wife demanded a vehicle with 3 rows for the grand kids, which they love. Our adult children have used it on a few occasions, and while not comfortable they have not complained. The Highlander was slightly more $, much quieter riding, but the 3rd row seat leg room was terrible. I spent the bucks to sound deaden the Pilot and am extremely happy with that improvement. Unfortunately, last fall my motor mount needed replacing after 65K miles, which I have since learned is probably due to the engine's VCM feature. If you asked me about VCM before that, I'da said VCM who? Now that I understand what VCM is and does, I hate Honda. And unlike others on this forum, I am not a VCM disabler proponent as I resent having to resort to something like that to get the Honda owner satisfaction I mistakenly thought I was buying in the first place. Additionally we bought a CRV in 2018 that has only added to my terrible opinion of Honda as the questionable engineering patterns continue big time with that car ... fuel dilution, excessive battery drain, deliberate factory misalignment of the rear tires for enhanced "drivability". I'm tired of getting solicitations in the mail to join class action lawsuits against Honda (3 now) , "enhanced" warranty extension letters from Honda (4 now) instead of recalls that fix the problem in the first place, and continually educating my local Honda dealer with TSB's in hand that they claim they were unaware of.

Because of all my Honda bellyaching, the wife has grudgingly agreed to shop cars. We looked at both the Ascent and Highlander in recent weeks as she still insists on a 3rd row seat vehicle. I vetoed the Ascent due to the love a fair I discovered online that Ascent owners seem to have installing Cobb Tuning devices on that car to improve engine performance. Stirs up my VCM disabler feelings. Plus Consumer Reports current quality assessment aint good . Unfortunately the current Highlander 3rd row seat leg room is still terrible, and some of the higher end models seem to be plagued by excessive wind noise on the highway (which we experienced in a test drive). So our search for the holy grail of cars goes on.

My suggestion is that you test drive all the vehicles you are interested in so you experience them first hand your self, and pick what is best for you guys. The is no perfect choice these days. Good luck.
Glad you're seeing the light. While I originally lamented a proper 3 row on the Highlander, it became less of an issue over time. Should only be used in a pinch anyway. At the end of the day, not a deal breaker imo.
 

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  • Disabling the VCM would be my priority. It will prolong the life of the engine and transmission.
  • Make sure engine mounts are not broken when you buy.
  • TSB on Fuel Injectors.
  • Change that cheap made Indonesian drive belt for a Bando.
  • Disable the VCM.
  • Timing Belt Water Pump job at 105k.
  • Spark plugs and 100k.
  • Keep a clean air filter.
  • Clean the MAF ever so often when the reading is off.
  • Be careful with those factory Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport AS tires. Not so good in highway speed turns. I'd opt for something that is more supportive of a 4800Lb vehicle.
  • Disable the VCM.
That be my punch list.
To add to this list. I know I own a 2011 but these comments fit. Don't buy the Spark plugs on Amazon or Ebay you'll end up with fakes that will ruin your engine. Disable the VCM :)
 

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Here is my take on the subject:

1) How is the long term reliability of these vehicles? I read good and bad things about the 9 speed transmission and new direct injection V6. I am planning on keeping this vehicle for 10 or so years and I will rack up a lot of miles.
A lot of that is going to depend on you. Prompt, proper, timely maintenance is the key to having anything last longer. We keep cars generally 10 years. If you go to the Highlander forum you will see that there are complaints about the Highlander as well. All makes have them.

2) What made you choose the Pilot instead of the rest of the competition particularly the Toyota Highlander? I read that the Highlander has a higher ride height, but the Pilot is sportier and has a wider interior.
#1. The Highlander is narrow in the shoulders and broad in the hips, ie: the shoulder upper body room is less than the Pilot yet wide in the seating area. Where as the Pilot is Broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hips. Still plenty of seat room, but better movement room.

2. The Highlander is outdated in its style, especially the interior.

3. The Highlander was noisy, at least more noisy than the Pilot.

3) Have you utilized the third row? I am planning on using the third row for a few adults in road trips. The Highlander was really tight, but overall decided it can me manageable.
Not much, but when we did it was better for the adults riding in the back than the Highlander was. The #1 son has a Highlander and one of the things he dislikes about it is the lack of room in the 3rd row.

Now with that said, last year I traded in my Pilot for it's little brother the Passport. A slightly shortened 2 row version of the Pilot. Reason, we just didn't need the third row for the wife and I. If we have enough people around, kids & grandkids, to fill the Pilot then we have more people than can fit in the vehicle anyways. It's a family size thing.

4) How do you like your Pilot? Any buyers remorse or regrets?
We loved the Pilot. Plenty of passenger room, comfortable on road trips, decent gas mileage, I averaged 27mpg on the road and 20 in town.

As with the Pilot we now love the Passport as much and possibly a little more. We didn't need all that much seat room. The cargo space is outstanding for use since the 2 furry kids occupy that area instead of the 2nd seat that they did in the Pilot. With the Pilot 3rd row seat down there were lots of crevices for dog legs to fall into. Not so with the Passport.

The only regret I have now is that the Passport want available at the time we bought the Pilot. The Pilot, IMO, is a great Family vehicle. The Passport is perfect for us as our family is grown and gone. Besides the kids and grandkids didn't get here by walking to our house, so if we need to take two + vehicles to all go somewhere, so be it.

I do wish that the Pilot had been available when the Kids were young. I would have preferred one to the Ford Aerostar or Dodge Caravan we owned.
 

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I want to say that I love our 2016 Honda Pilot Touring AWD (9spd w/touring). We have about 93k miles on it with the only major issue being that we had the injectors replaced somewhere in the 40k-50k mile range. I remember it was just outside warranty but the aftermarket extended warranty covered it. No other major issues besides normal maintenance.

I just barely installed the S-VCM people talk about. I think the possible reliability concerns of the VCM function have mostly been solved in this generation. VCM is the cylinder shutting off technology to help mpg. So, up to about the 92k mark, our pilot was set to operate as intended by Honda without any issues. Who knows if the VCM function was partially why one of the injectors got weak, whatever.

History on the injector, our Pilot ran fine, check engine light came on, they said a bad/weak injector was to blame and we had to do the whole set as Honda doesn't sell them individually.

So, getting that out of the way. I love our Pilot. I have lifted it and given it trail rated mods to aid in off road exploring. We started towing a 3500-4000lb trailer recently too. Overall good vehicle.

We have used the 3rd row on a few occasions, it would be so much more pleasant to use once our twin boys grow out of their car seats but yup, adults back there too on a couple occasions. The second row can slide forward and back enough to help accommodate the passengers a bit. Without going up to something like a Toyota Sequoia, I think these size SUV will all feel pretty similar for seating comfort in all 3 rows. Best to try sitting in all the rows yourself to see how you like it.

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The only statement in the above I want to argue is the VCM is not for MPG it is for Emissions, when you shut it off you get exactly the same MPG but your emissions will go way up at the part of the test that is the steady state 55 mph cruise test the EPA does. That is all that feature is for.
 

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The only statement in the above I want to argue is the VCM is not for MPG it is for Emissions, when you shut it off you get exactly the same MPG but your emissions will go way up at the part of the test that is the steady state 55 mph cruise test the EPA does. That is all that feature is for.
If that's the case, it's an incredibly extreme and invasive tech to implement and impose on the powertrain. You'd figure that Honda engineers would be smart enough to think up something that's more passive in nature. :rolleyes:
 

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If that's the case, it's an incredibly extreme and invasive tech to implement and impose on the powertrain. You'd figure that Honda engineers would be smart enough to think up something that's more passive in nature. :rolleyes:
Yep, I think they went down the rabbit hole to far to stop LOL.
 

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The major reason for buying my 2017 Touring worked out perfectly, couldn’t be more pleased. I wanted to help my wife continue to drive after losing sight in her right eye. Otto (her name for our Pilot, with the very automated safety features), allows her to safely see the right side mirror on the dash screen at a glance instead of turning her head so much to see the mirror with her left eye. This was the last year this feature was available, don’t ask me why. I use it to keep an eye out (pun intended) for grocery curbside delivery person at Target. Along with all the other safety features it’s perfect.
 

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The major reason for buying my 2017 Touring worked out perfectly, couldn’t be more pleased. I wanted to help my wife continue to drive after losing sight in her right eye. Otto (her name for our Pilot, with the very automated safety features), allows her to safely see the right side mirror on the dash screen at a glance instead of turning her head so much to see the mirror with her left eye. This was the last year this feature was available, don’t ask me why. I use it to keep an eye out (pun intended) for grocery curbside delivery person at Target. Along with all the other safety features it’s perfect.
cool.
 

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The major reason for buying my 2017 Touring worked out perfectly, couldn’t be more pleased. I wanted to help my wife continue to drive after losing sight in her right eye. Otto (her name for our Pilot, with the very automated safety features), allows her to safely see the right side mirror on the dash screen at a glance instead of turning her head so much to see the mirror with her left eye. This was the last year this feature was available, don’t ask me why. I use it to keep an eye out (pun intended) for grocery curbside delivery person at Target. Along with all the other safety features it’s perfect.
I've never been for a lot of tech on vehicles, just because it's something else to break, but this is proving to be a useful feature.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you all for replying. I did not expect Honda to have some significant issues with the engine and the drive train. I have talked to a few owners and they did mention the same issues a few of you guys mentioned above. I am still planning to look at the Pilot for sale at my local dealership, but reading about certain issues is a deal breaker. It seems like no car company is truly reliable now a days. Even Toyota is having trouble with their Highlanders as I read in the forums. I will keep reading on and hopefully make a final decision some time soon.
 
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