2012 Honda Pilot: First Look

2012 Honda Pilot TouringThe Honda Pilot gets a mild refresh for 2012, including powertrain, interior and feature upgrades. The model is available at Honda dealerships starting today, and we detail what has changed below. 

Although the exterior look hasn’t changed much, there are important changes under the hood and cabin upgrades that make the Pilot more competitive compared with the 2011 model.

The 2012 Pilot is available in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring trims, with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The model starts at $28,470, $150 more than the 2011.

The Pilot’s updated 250-horsepower V-6 – which includes new engine friction-reduction technology – now achieves an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway and 21 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. The 2 mpg bump in the combined rating is enough to make the Pilot the most fuel-efficient eight-seat crossover. The 2012 Ford Explorer gets 20/28 mpg with a new four-cylinder, and the 2011 Toyota Highlander with a four-cylinder does better than the Pilot at 20/25 mpg, but both models seat only seven and are equipped with less powerful engines.  The eight-passenger 2012 Chevrolet Traverse gets 17/24 mpg with more power. 

Other improvements to fuel efficiency include the use of low-rolling-resistance tires, low-drag front and rear ventilated disc brakes and changes to the exterior design that help reduce wind resistance.

On the inside, the Pilot gets more sound-deadening material to help reduce road noise. Honda says the center stack of controls has been redesigned, but the changes are mainly relegated to a new, more streamlined-looking button layout.

2012 Honda Pilot Touring 4WD.EX-L trims now get an 8-inch color display standard. Any model equipped with a navigation system will get a new one that comes with subscription-free FM traffic, 15-gigabyte hard drive for music storage and a higher-resolution monitor. Those navi upgrades sound similar to the new system we raved about in the 2011 Honda Odyssey. The navigation system also gets a new backup camera that can show wide view, normal view and top-down view.

The EX and EX-L Pilots now get a 2 GB CD library (also found on the 2011 Odyssey) that can copy music tracks from CDs, but not tracks from burned CDs or memory sticks. That feature replaces the six-CD changer option. Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming is also standard on the above trims.

On the outside, the Pilot gets a revised three-bar grille, redesigned headlights and front bumper. EX trims and higher now have 18-inch alloy wheels (upgraded from 17-inch rims), while LX trims are equipped with 17-inch steel wheels.

Continue reading below for more trim changes and pricing.

2012 Honda Pilot Pricing (2011 Pricing)

  • LX (2WD): $28,470 ($28,320)
  • LX (4WD): $30,070 ($29,920)
  • EX (2WD): $31,320 ($31,170)
  • EX (4WD): $32,920 ($32,770)
  • EX-L (2WD): $34,570 ($34,270)
  • EX-L (4WD): $36,170 ($35,870)
  • EX-L with Rear Entertainment System (2WD): $36,170 ($35,870)
  • EX-L with Navi (2WD): $36,570 ($36,270)
  • EX-L with Rear Entertainment System (4WD): $37,770 ($37,470)
  • EX-L with Navi (4WD): $38,170 ($37,870)
  • Touring with Navi and Rear Entertainment System (2WD): $39,220 ($39,070)
  • Touring with Navi and Rear Entertainment System (4WD): $40,820 ($40,670)
  • Destination: $810 (same)

2012 Pilot Fuel Economy (2011 MPG)

  • 2WD: 18/25/21 mpg city/highway/combined (17/23/19 mpg)
  • 4WD: 17/24/20 mpg (16/22/18 mpg)

2012 Pilot Feature Change Summary

  • New grille, headlights and bumper
  • New 18-inch aluminum wheels (17-inch styled steel on LX)
  • Upgraded interior materials and revised instrument panel with new center stack layout
  • Acoustic windshield glass (previously exclusive to EX-L and Touring)
  • Upgraded audio and available navigation systems

Pilot LX adds:

  • AAC audio file playback from data discs to the CD player

Pilot EX adds or replaces:

  • 18-inch aluminum wheels and P235/60R18 all-season tires
  • Bluetooth and Bluetooth audio streaming
  • 2 GB CD Library (CD-L)

Pilot EX-L adds or replaces:

  • Power tailgate
  • Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) with QVGA resolution (includes backup camera, album artwork display and user-loadable wallpaper function)
  • USB audio interface

Pilot EX-L with navigation adds or replaces:

  • Upgraded navigation system with higher resolution and 60-GB hard drive (includes 15-GB audio hard-drive memory) and FM traffic
  • Song by Voice
  • Wide-view rearview camera with three-mode display

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

2012 Honda Pilot

By Colin Bird | August 31, 2011 | Comments (46)



"...improvements to fuel efficiency include the use of low-rolling-resistance tires...

This is not improvement to fuel efficiency. This is safety concern and road grip issue. I don't like brainwash.


Are there any other 8 seaters besides this and the gm vehicles? Its great that this is most efficient 8 seater but it boils down to 1mpg over the considerably larger traverse. And similar power? Really? 288hp is quite a bit more than 250 and the pilot has weakest in class power rating. The vehicle looks no better than before and I read nothing about interior material upgrades. As noted you can expect worse handling and braking with the new tires. And honda isn't knwon for strong brakes in the first place. Sounds like cars.com is in love before even driving this thing.


So they put low-rolling resistance tires on a vehicle that already has braking problems (per CR)...great...

plus, I seriously doubt that the materials will be much better than they are. it looks like they just put in larger hard plastic panels in place of the many small ones.

You're right we changed the power wording. Traverse has more power for sure. However, in combined mileage it is rated at 19 mpg combined versus 21 for Pilot. I think overall we wrote the first look pretty generally with not much commentary positive or negative. I think we want it to be improved though. And yes we clearly say the tires are to improve efficiency and make no mention of grip since we haven't driven it yet. But cars like the Hyundai Accent and Ford Focus SFE definitely show grip issues with the low rolling tires when cornering.


I wasn criticizing lack of mention of braking issues with lr tires. I was just saying honda aleady have mediocre brakes and this will only lengthen distances. I thought fwd traverse got 17/24, if that be the case how does it come in2mpg lower than pilot in combined mileage? Shouldn't it be at 20? Either way the gap is very small and traverse has usable 3rd row. Obviously pilot doesn't nor is the cargo area worth much with all rows in use.



And the reality is that even if honda wants to limit comparisons to 8 seaters, this competes with explorer directly and now the ford offers a more efficient 4 cyl option. I doubt pilot is only cross shoppped with gm cuvs that seat 8.


This is another example of Honda's superior engineering when compared to a manufacturer like Chevrolet. The Pilot had less horsepower yet is a full second faster to sixty than the Chevy Traverse. Isn't it bad enough that Honda's Ody is faster to sixty than the Regal Turbo!
GM needs to get their act together and put all of their cars on a diet as companies like Honda continue to school them.


David -

From the photos, it looks like the cargo area may be flat in the 2012. The 2011 has a sloped cargo area that makes soccer balls roll into the street. Do you know if that was changed?

Derrick G

The "Combined" rating isn't the average of the other two; it's based on 55% city driving. Also, all of the figures are rounded only after all calculations are done. So two cars could both be rated at 17 city, but one is really 16.5 and the other 17.4. That could create a different rounded overall number even if the highway numbers were the same.

As for the acceleration numbers, not sure where they came from, but I'd note in AWD configuration, the Traverse was 1.2 secs faster to 60 than the Pilot in CR's tests. Other publications often get lower figures with techniques like brake torquing and roll-outs, but those figures are meaningless in normal driving.


I hope the Traverse has better reliability than my GMC Acadia. Mine has less than 65,000 miles and so far I've had to replace the transmission, water pump, and ac system. Now the nav system won't work and the dealer quoted me $1,000 to fix. On top of that the engine is not running right and the dealer thinks it has a bad crank shaft. My Acadia has been serviced 100% by GM dealers and still I've had tons of problems.
I thought of trading it in on a Traverse but the more I think about it the more I'm set on buying a Toyota or Honda.


We had the crankshaft issue with our Acadia at the 35k mark. We got it fixed under warranty and promptly drove to the Toyota dealership and traded it in on a Highlander. No regrets and don't miss going to the dealer every month. We looked at the Pilot, it drove great but was to boxy for my wife's liking.


One thing about Honda, off topic in a way:
I wish Honda would offer both roadside assistance and free maintenance with their warranties. Toyota now has 2 year coverage for both items included in their warranty package.
Honda continues on with no sign of updating their warranty coverage.
What's up with that?
The Pilot is a nice machine manufactured by a superior vehicle company
that should attract more customers to its stable of automobiles, yet refuses to move with the times in more ways than one.


With a history of poor braking, this vehicle's blandness is a real issue. You'll never notice it careening into you from behind. NHTSA ought to consider that when certifying it.


Epa combine mileage is based on 55% city and 45% hwy. By that def the traverse gets 20mpg combined which is 1 less than pilot which is what I said yesterdat. You trade space for mileage, the traverse is notably bigger but its slightly less efficient.

It amazes me how this site always attracts people who are about to, or recently have traded their american car for a toyota or honda. Why would you get a warranty repair and then trade your vehicle the next day? Do people trade toyotas after a warranty repai or does that only apply to american vehicles?

Honda continues to rely on transmission tricks and tires ti increase mileage instead of investing in direct injction, 6 or 8 speed transmissions or dsgs. The pilot needs a 6 speed like all its competitors. Low resistance tires may be ok in a 3k lb compact but not on a 4500lb suv.

I'm glad I'm on vacation and don't have to tell sheth that I got that figure from the EPA website. It's pretty easy to find. fueleconomy.gov.

I'll look into it next week when I'll be driving it.


Seriously, the outside of this vehicle looks like Honda just said "F#@& it!"



I saw gov website and you're right, it claims 19mpg. But using math it should be 20mpg. Not sure why 19 is shown. Common sense tells us that a 1mpg disadvantage in city and hwy mpg can't lead to a 2mpg disadvantage in combined mileage. If you use the 55% city + 45% hwy calc you get 20.15mpg for fwd traverse and 21 for pilot. Either the epa isn't using that formula, or the site has a mistake.


For the record. Epa site lists 2011 srx fwd with identical epa ratings as pilot at 20mpg combined, not 21. I don't get how pilot would have diffeerent rating. Maybe the reality is pilot will have 20mpg rating.


"Seriously, the outside of this vehicle looks like Honda just said "F#@& it!"


Oh, come on now, ugh! It's a little on the eccentric side but it's nowhere near 2011 Odyssey fugly!

So it's got that going for it! Which is nice.


does the 2012 model offers the remote engine starter?


This looks like a vehicle from the early 90s not from 2011.

Honda/Acura better gut their design team. They are getting uglier each year!


I would suggest buying a Traverse over the Pilot unless you're into the boxy look. Just make sure you buy the extended warranty as ours has more than paid for itself. We would have incurred over $2,000 in services charges related to electrical and suspension problems if we didn't have it.


I drove a 2006 Honda Pilot, and found that the 16" wheels caused "show-boating" when you make a sharp maneuver at high speeds. Changing over to 18" wheels eliminated this problem and gave a more stable ride.
I also found that the older Pilots were damned noise boxes; I ended up putting in $1,000 worth of DynaMats to quiet the car.


I am currently driving a rental GM Traverse. The car is the clumsiest SUV I ever had the misfortune of driving. You can't see out of the rear side windows.
Give me the new 2012 Pilot anytime.

Sue Brown

I would take a boxy look over spending my time in a car dealership's service dept.all the time!

I've owned the 09, 11 and 12 Pilots. The 2012 is leagues ahead of the previous years. The quiet in the cabin is noticeable over the 2011 Touring. The road noise is significantly reduced. Handling is improved and the steering itself seems much easier. Braking has been fine on all three vehicles. For those saying the tires are going to create handling problems. They're high end Michelins which have outstanding reviews from both expert testers and private users. Check a site like Tirerack and you'll see what I mean. They're a huge improvement over the Goodyears in terms of handling, rain/snow performance. I just drove the car through 18" of snow two days ago and it performed a lot better than the 2011.
The interior improvements are also noticeable. The seats are more comfortable in the front offering more support. The stereo is much improved over the 2011 Touring. The control layout now makes more sense. The navigation and rear view cameras are also improved.

It's an 8 person SUV that can carry 8 adults in comfort. It stores a ton. It gets reasonable fuel economy and the best part is that in driving the two previous pilots a total of 75k miles I rotated the tires and changed the oil. No repairs like the other products mentioned here and lets face it I could have driven them another 50k without anything being done. Can ANY GM say that? How's the Malibu/Impala? My neighbor owns a gorgeous Acadia. Beautiful vehicle, when it works.
I'd buy the new Ford Explorer but the reviews aren't great and the lack of a 2nd row that slides is problematic for us.

If you own an 09-11 Pilot and are in the market for a new vehicle check out the 2012. It may look pretty much the same but it's far superior.


FUGLY!! We've owned a 2004 since birth.. another FUGLY vehicle. Very reliable car but nothing to look at and the ROAD NOISE in these things is horrific. A class action suit should be filed against Honda Motor for hearing losses suffered by their customers!


I've owned a 2007, 2011 and own a 2012 EX-l with navi

Rear camera you get the wide and top view but the quality of the picture is crap compared to 2011, they must have used a much lower quality camera.

They removed the CD changer. Yes it has a hard drive but you cannot copy any songs directly and it will only copy original CDs, so forget copying your MP3 collection or any copies of originals.

In 2012 they have removed the multi information display right above the steering wheel from the EXL, in 2011 it allowed you to change certain convenience options such door lock settings, hunking when you used the remote, see individual tire pressure, this is all gone.

Overall the button layout in the center may have been more streamlined but its definitely harder to reach the outer controls.

in the 2012 you also need to get passed the welcome/warning button before controlling the audio.

I'm a big Honda fan, and some of this might be insignificant nuances to some, but I expected an upgrade from 2011, not less..

The hands free link/bluetooth is much better integrated than 2011, and the rear of the car seems a little higher.

I'm concerned though after reading the comments here about the low resistance tires, in 2011 the tires looked more capable with the big grooves and ridges.

p.s. I happen to like the boxy look of the pilot.


Some other issues and annoyances to gripe with...

The roof rack is gone...

When listening to XM and say you just wanna browse your saved channels; switching from XM1 to XM2 changes the channel !?!?

Say you're driving and you press 'audio' at the bottom next to the control knob, if you have not accepted the warning screen when you started the car that screen pops up (wasnt like this in 2011) but after you press OK it takes you to the navigation screen and you have to press the audio button again.

One of my tires seemed low so again I found myself wanting to check individual tire pressures "from inside the car" - this feature was very useful to and in 2012 its gone.


One more thing which I forgot to mentioned.

The seat heater switch was change from a standard rocker switch for low, high and off to a soft button which cycles through the settings 1st push puts on high, push again and it switches to low and then off. And it resets every time you turn off the ignition... I think the rocker switch was more practical and convenient.


Buying a 2012 Pilot to keep, done with GM no matter what they offer me, had nothing but issues that impots never had, I have always owned one GM and one import, nothing compares, GM has a looong way to go before it can even 'compare' itself to any import, even KIA and Huyandai came a long way and surpassed the reliability of GM, wake up GM and listen to your customers, putting low end parts and not paying atention to detail in designing is just another hole you are digging.


We just bought one. I really don't understand some of the comments before this one... I like the looks, really basic and truck-like. It drives like a CHARM! and the interior is soooo comfortable. I just love it. Plus, because it's a Honda, I know I won't have any problems with it (I previously owned a CRV).


Every generation of the Pilot seems to recieve styling that gets worse as time progresses. This is a VERY unattractive vehicle, and at this price point, there are a lot more options now than when this first came out. Honda needs a new design team for ALL of their vehicles.


Chubbys spouse doesnt like boxy styling.


Do any of you actually own a pilot? I just bought the 2012 last month and it drives like a charm. And by the way if you actually drive it the way it's meant to be driven you well get better gas millage. I got 25 mpg on my last tank. When you drive you don't punch it. Drive smart and you wool be rewarded with better fuel economy.


I have the 2012 EX-L and love it, comfortable and roomy interior, very quiet compared to the Honda Accords we've owned (traded a 2009 ex-l v6 in for the pilot). The fuel economy hasn't been anywhere near advertised though -Averaging 17.5 city/20-21 highway driven at posted speed limits. As far as "boxy" is concerned, what do you think of Land/Range Rover, Hummer and even the Durango? Looked at the Highlander and thought it looked too much like a minivan.


I had a Chevy Uplander. We bought it with 18k and traded it at 72k. We had nothing but problems. 8 major repairs. Including a head gasket. I have owned my new Pilot for 3 months. I love it. And so does the wife. Breaking is a little weak. But it is a good size vehicle. It is cheap that they don't include the wireing with the trailor hitch. But that is it.


I've had it for a month. The EXL.Just a solid car.
More room for your money.
Very stable on turns.


Very interesting comments everyone.Just bought the 2012 Pilot Touring traded my 2009 MDX ELITE for it and I do miss my MDX but my family prefers the ride and comfort of the Pilot over the MDX.I actually liked driving the MDX better as it was way more fun and the fit and finish was far superior than the Pilot.
Anyway is anyone having trouble with tires going flat on a regular basis.We just got back from a two week trip and went to pick up our Pilot from the airport and had two flat tires. The Pilot is only a couple of months old and again today two of the tires are low again.
Yes it is very boring looking but where do you go next BMW,Mercedes repair costs are out there and American your always in for problems,has anyone tried the Lexus GX470.


I just bought a 2012 Pilot two weeks ago. Transmission fluid began to appear on the driveway in two places. They just took the car apart and found a seal broken on top of the transmission. Meeting with Honda tonight. Love the car and had fun on a road trip. I am very nervous about keeping it.


I can't believe that people are comparing this vehicle (Pilot) or a Toyota Highlander or 4 Runner to Chevy and GM garbage SUVs. A Chevy Traverse and GM Arcadia will surely give its owners a headache around the 50k mark as it always does. Whether its transmission, water pump, engine etc..

Please don't compare import SUVs to American SUVs cause there's clearly no comparison. The Traverse looks like a half egg shell on wheels anyhow (butt ugly).


Why you guys are comparing a Japaneses world class automaker with crappy American automakers.

2012 Pilot Owner

Just bought the new 2012 Pilot 4WD and it is very quiet and braking is predictable and stable. The new tires handle fine and I have always known that Michelin and BFG's are the way to go. Avoid any goodyear tires except the ultra high performance. I have replaced over 24 goodyear tires that have come stock on new vehicles and they all were crap with 5 belt failures and 11 with premature wear and replaced under warranty (which I applied as a credit to other tires at Discount Tire). I absolutely love the 2012 Pilot and it is a more smooth stable ride compared to my Nissan Altima that I traded in and no worse for road noise. The third row is definitely not for anyone over 5'10" but works excellent for kids and young teens. We looked very hard at the Audi Q7, the Highlander, the Mazda CX9, the Acadia, and the MDX and all were either too much money or too small for interior space. Bottom line is you can't go wrong.


Have 2011 pilot exl-love the room, very comfortable for someone over 6 foot 3. I like the feel of a big ride, this is it. Its a wide vehicle, most are narrow and a little tight. Love this pilot.

Fuzz Bailey

Is the 2012 front seat improved over the 2011 model? Very uncomfortable!

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App