2012 Honda Pilot Touring

2012 Honda Pilot Touring

The Good:
– Very spacious interior
– Largely quiet ride
– Solid fuel economy
The Bad:
– Could be quicker
– Cabin hard plastics
– No low-range gearing

The Honda Pilot first debuted in this region back in 2009, replacing the somewhat-popular MR-V. Built in America and loosely based on the Accord platform, it was Honda’s largest model, pushing the boundaries for a midsize SUV in terms of size. For 2012, Honda has given the Pilot an ever-so-minor facelift as well as more available features to do battle with increasingly competent rivals.

There were enough complaints about the Pilot’s styling the last time around, so Honda went ahead and replaced everything between and below the headlights. The facelift indeed is that minor, with a new rear bumper and new alloys complementing the new front bumper and grille.

The interior is the same as before, save for a redesigned centre console, so we might as well just copy-paste our review of the 2009 version. The dashboard and upper door sills are all hard plastic, although there are more than enough cushy padded surfaces on the door inserts and armrests.

The gear shifter is still a stub on the dashboard to make way for huge storage cubbies. Storage is the Honda Pilot’s middle name. The centre console ‘bucket’ is by far the largest, designed to hold anything from drinks to jewellery boxes. There are also covers for most of the storage areas. The passenger-side dashboard has a tray moulded into it that came in handy for small items, while another exposed cubby under the stereo proved useful for holding a mobile phone. Cup-holders and bottle-holders are in no short supply for almost any passenger.

The passengers also enjoy massive interior room, easily besting many full-size 4WDs in legroom and headroom. First-row and second-row passengers have ample space, while the third can actually be used by average-sized adults, even if a bit cramped. Third-row access remains annoying for those with back problems, but it can be managed, with a second-row seat that split-folds out of the way. The leather seats in our tester had mild bolstering and padded armrests. Using the third-row leaves enough room for the monthly shopping in the cargo hold, but folding flat the last bench offers cavernous luggage space. Fold down two rows and the floor space is as big as a studio apartment. There is even a storage compartment under the boot floor.

In terms of features, there is more than enough, especially in the Touring model, such as ceiling-mounted holder for sunglasses that doubles as a wide-angle mirror to keep an eye on the kids in the back seats, as well as integrated roll-up sunshades in the side rear windows. The Touring now gets a decent CD/MP3 audio system that works in conjunction with a newly-offered navigation system, all making use of a larger LCD screen above the stereo deck. Alongside the six-disc changer and an AUX jack, a USB port and Bluetooth phone are also available now. While the interface is simple enough, using the screen to programme stuff on the move is a hassle, as the rotary controller is located very low at the base of the centre-console stack.

The automatic a/c wasn’t stressed in December weather. It has a full-featured rear a/c system with digital controls and vents. Various power outlets, sunroof, keyless entry, auto-dimming mirror, multiple front and side-curtain airbags, parking sensors, power windows, electric mirrors and cruise control round out the top-of-the-range Touring trim package. Fancier features such as keyless start and powered third-row seats are not available, something that competitors would brag about.

With 253 hp peaking at 5700 rpm, the 3.5-litre V6 seems underpowered on paper, but is still quicker than the Ford Explorer. The 347 Nm of torque comes up a bit late, at a high 4800 rpm, but is perfectly adequate for city driving. We managed a 0-to-100 kph time of 9.4 seconds, which isn’t terribly impressive, but it’s the engine’s extra features that caught our attention. With a cylinder-deactivation system, it can run with as few as three cylinders to save fuel while cruising. Honda even claims to have massaged the engine for better economy, and we can attest to that. We got consumption figures of 13.0 litres/100 km, down from 15.2 litres/100 km in the older model, pretty impressive for something almost as big as a Toyota Land Cruiser. Honda’s refined i-VTEC engine is very quiet too, thanks to a noise cancellation system and so-called ‘active’ engine mounts. The basic 5-speed automatic is dated, but does the job fine, invisibly shifting gears without hesitation.

Honda has left the suspension untouched however. It still rides a bit lumpily, handling corners like a truck-based 4×4, even though it’s technically a crossover with four-wheel independent suspension. It even bounces and jitters on some bumps, although it is largely comfortable on most road surfaces. Most of its target audience should be happy though, especially if they’re coming from a Toyota Prado or a Nissan Pathfinder, although we feel some new-age competitors, such as the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Durango, balance comfort and handling much better.

The Honda Pilot feels big on the road, but all-round visibility is reasonably good. The steering is soft and offers little feel, but the pedals fare better. Emergency brakes are easily handled by the four-wheel discs, aided by ABS and stability control when needed, but stopping distances are a bit long. Built to be a family cruiser, it is extremely quiet trundling along at highway speeds. Honda says the new model is quieter, and we won’t argue with that.

Oddly enough, while the Touring comes with larger 18-inch alloys, the 235/60 tyres are slightly less wide than the older model’s 245/65 tyres wrapping 17-inch wheels. While satisfactory on the road, the Pilot is actually good for moderate off-roading. The Pilot’s quick-acting all-wheel-drive barely bogs down in sand and the ground clearance is reasonable, although the wider tyres would’ve been better. There is no low-range gearing either, relying instead on a simulated diff lock for a 50:50 front/rear power split. It’s better than nothing if you end up having to cross a pile of soft sand just to get to your apartment building, a common situation in this part of the world.

While the all-new Honda Pilot isn’t a true offroader, Honda deliberately aims for the crowd that really require a minivan, but want to act like they safari regularly. It certainly hits the right notes, with ample cabin room, class-leading fuel economy and a badge that guarantees reliability. A couple of years ago, it was relatively pricey compared to its competitors, but now that the competitors have also jacked up their prices, the Pilot actually appears to be a decent value proposition.

Price Range:
Dh 130,000-165,000

Current Model Introduced in:

Body Styles:
5-door wagon

3.5L 253 hp V6 / 347 Nm

5-speed automatic


Front: independent
Rear: independent

Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
2048-2095 kg

4849 mm

2774 mm

Top Speed:
175 kph(limited)

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
9.4 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
13.0 litres/100km

What do you think?



  1. Kia Sorento is better than this.

  2. kia is not vtec.

  3. New Sorrento has grunt – compare Pilot to Kia’s Mohave (3.8L)for stately touring. What about the essential entertainment systems in the seat backs??

  4. how can u guys compare a HONDA with KIA???

  5. Looks like a value for money. Well definitely cannot compare with KIA

  6. Hi Mashfique, between the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Prado 2.7, which is a better car in terms of ride comfort and road handling. I hardly do offroad driving. I need to buy a vehicle but have not been able to decide between the two.
    Best regards

  7. Thanks Mashfique. Can you confirm for me if the Pilot (Touring) has Xenon lights and also memory for the driver’s seat like the American specification.

  8. Dear Mashfique,

    Please help me choose between Prado 4L TXL and the Pilot Mid Range. I’m not much of an offroader yet, but it might change if the car I buy is Offroad capable.

    My Job involves a LOT of long drives.

    Thank you.

  9. I got one last year. It’s amazing. The ride is excellent and the comfort is unsurpassed. I drove 5,000 km on a single road trip and the car was fantastic. Unfortunately, like most dealers in KSA they cheat by offering standard features for a premium.

    • Dear Babs,

      I have been reading reviews about Pilot and almost all of them complains about the awfully long braking distance. Can you please comment if its really big a concern and if the braking distance is that bad in a 2012 model?

      Some reviews however suggests that the braking distance has improved from 2011 model and is now at par with average scores. I’m not sure which review to follow.

      Your valuable comments as highly appreciated.

      Thank you.

  10. Dear Mash,

    I have been reading reviews about Pilot and almost all of them complains about the awfully long braking distance. Can you please comment if its really big a concern and if the braking distance is that bad in a 2012 model?

    Some reviews however suggests that the braking distance has improved from 2011 model and is now at par with average scores. I’m not sure which review to follow.

    Your valuable comments as highly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  11. Hi ,

    I am planning to buy a SUV but i am confused whether i should prefer Toyota fortuner or Honda Pilot.Basically i need 7 or 8 seater but with better fuel economy and affordable price .Please any one can share some ideas or suggestions to me ASAP .

  12. Hi,

    I should be buying a new vehicle in the next 2 weeks & I’m at crossroads which vehicle would be best suited for me.

    I drive @ 120km daily to work & back. I do take the occassional trip to the beach, but do not do any serious offroading.

    I am looking for a 6 / 7 seater and come diwn to the following choices.

    Honda pilot (mid range)
    Ford Explorer (XLT)
    Toyota fortuner (2.7 or 4L)

    I have a family with a little one & dontcwant to compromise on safety, keeping in mind a decent mileage & low maintenance.

    I’m aware that there are always pros & cons, but a fair judgement is what I need.

    Please note that in all probability , i will purchase the vehicle you recommend.

    Thanks in advance.

  13. Thanks Mash


    Best regards,


  14. Hi Mash,

    I am confused between Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot?
    Which one would yo advice. I am not taking pricing into consideration. Performance, reliability and effeciency is what matter.

  15. Hi masfiq,

    I am from KSA, had test drive today with Pilot,plan to go for Basic one,

    But.Now confused over MAZDA CX-9 and honda pilot.
    Can you advise which one is better,
    In Honda Pilot I found two issue,
    Hard plastic.
    breaking distance.

    • Author

      You’re right about the Pilot. But we’ve never driven the Mazda. I assume the Mazda handles better.

  16. Thank you for the reply
    Can you advise me why mazda will be better option

  17. Hi Mashfique

    I am looking for a mid size SUV. Space and comfort are my priorities. Stuck up between Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and new 2013 Chevorlet Trailblazer. Can you please help me to choose one of these?


  18. Dear All

    I have just purchased a Honda PILOT (Touring). I owned the old MRV (2005) and loved every minute of it. For those skeptical about the Pilot’s off road capability, it does quite well and can hold its own (no comparison to a Landcruiser/Petrol and I’m not comparing here!) For a family on a trip to the beach with no major off road-ing, its perfect.

    Honda engines ‘purr’ beautifully and this one does not let down. Put your foot down a little harder than usual and its sounds wonderful.

    The Pilot’s GCC specifications are a let down and don’t have a few features that its American counterpart comes with (i’m talking about the full options Touring version). This really pissed me off.

    The interior is good except for the hard plastic dash, but considering the shit weather that we have here with the dust……..the hard plastic is actually good coz its easier to clean with just some soap and water. Try doing that on a leather trim dash and just one dirty paw print from a kid/adult or after a trip to the beach and you will see what I mean. Leather while looking lovely when new and untouched, looks like crap after a few days in the dust.

    The kids love the pilot as it has a good deal of space and comes with a DVD system including personal headsets for the kids. That gives the parents some quiet time to listen to what they want without the noise of the kids from the rear.

    The pilot is a ridiculously silent car in the cabin thanks to active noise cancellation. Its a bit unnerving at times especially when you just cant hear the outside traffic noise. But then again, you can control the level of the active noise cancellation.

    Stopping distances on the Pilot is not very good and it feels a little heavy when you push the brakes, however, if you put your foot hard on the brakes, it will stop as fast as you want it with the ABS kicking into high gear. Another cause for my concern was the turning radius which was a lot less than I expected, but then again, I have learnt to take it into consideration when turning.

    On a whole, I love Honda and love the Pilot. Its does not let down. Its a Honda!

  19. As an after thought.

    Yes, I have driven other cars including the Pajero, Pathfinder and Prado (similar class of cars) – although I cannot comment on the Mazda, Kia and Hyundai as I have not driven them and therefore will not comment on it.

    For off road-ing pleasure, the Prado is the best. For comfort, the Pathfinder and Pilot are both in the same league.

    For value for money, the Pathfinder wins hands down.

    The best driving pleasure, the Honda is surely is best of the lot.

    The Pajero is just outdated and requires a change of shape and trim, but it is also equally good among all the others and cheaper than the others even with full kit.

    I like the Prado as well, but in terms of ‘bang for your buck’ it lacks in every way.

    The best all rounder – happiness for Parents and Kids – go for the Honda.

    Oh, just one more thing. Honda spares and service is not cheap. Even though things rarely go wrong, it will put a hole in your pocket when it does go wrong and is out of warranty!

  20. Hi everyone. I have recently moved into the region and I’m in the market for a nice new car. My options are Pajero Gls, Mazda C X 9 and honda pilot. I like driving long distances, have a family of 3 kids, so safety and comfort are on top of my list. Please help me choose a car perfect for my family which does not drain my budget!

  21. i will buy the honda pilot 2013 tonight. what is distinct in pilot that is unique from other SUV ?

  22. Don’t buy this expensive box shaped vehicle, which has no off road capability and will burn your pocket if you have maintenance. resale value is not that good. if you are sitting on driver seat you will see the gears on dash and feel yourself like a chaffer

  23. Hi everyone..

    next week in sha Allah.. i would buy this car.. my personal opinion.. i found this one better than Prado.. in terms of ride quality, sound attenuation, and comfort.. obviously the consumption and cargo space is added benefit..!!

    Hope so…i am taking the right decision.. in sha Allah..

    Regards to all..

  24. HI there friends..

    Last night i received my Honda Pilot Touring 2014 and believe me i loved the car.. its as big as a Land Cruiser and with much more features as compared to Prado within the same range price range.. Hopefully i would enjoy the car with all this features.. Would update you about all the details and driving experience from time to time..


  25. Hi,

    Can you please tell me what is the expense cost range of maintenance i.e. oil, filter, brakes etc.


  26. Hi Hasnain..

    Well.. still i didnt reach that point.. but would surely let you know..

    crossed 2000 Kms.. enjoying the ride.. only thing that is annoying is the Road Noise after 120 KPH..!! as per Honda drivers.. this is usual.. so.. i might also get used to it..

    mileage is good..as i am driving inside the city most of the times..so.. 500 kms in full tank almost.. n on highway i got 600 kms..

    ac is great.. sound system is excellent.. over all ..its a solid car.. has a road grip..!!

    will keep you posted.. 🙂


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