Honda is known to produce some of the best SUVs in the market. That’s why it didn’t come as a surprise when the Honda Pilot hit the market in a storm in 2003.
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The automaker has recorded sales of at least 110,000 units every year since 2014. Those figures clearly confirm that there are plenty of used Pilots that you can purchase and get plenty of useful life.
In this post, we will discuss the best and worst years of the Honda Pilot to help you make a better purchase decision.
The Best and Worst Years for Honda Pilot Are:
The best Honda Pilot years to buy include 2004, 2006 – 2008, 2012, 2018, 2021, and 2022. The worst Honda Pilots to avoid include 2003, 2005, 2013, and 2016.
How Reliable are Honda Pilots?
The Honda Pilot is a popular midsize crossover offering plenty of tech goodies and interior and cargo space. However, it’s anything but perfect.
If you’re planning to get a reliable and long-lasting Honda Pilot, you need to know the years to avoid and why you should avoid them.
Honda is known to produce some of the most reliable vehicles on the market. Therefore, finding good reliability ratings in the Honda Pilot is not surprising.
Honda has a reliability score of 4.0 out of 5.0, ranking first out of all car brands by RepairPal. This is an excellent score as it is above average.
The average cost of repairing a Honda model is $428 per year, which is significantly lower than the average repair cost, which stands at $652.
That means you’re likely to have zero visits to the repair shop every year, and the probability of having a severe repair is lower than 10%.
Coming to the Honda Pilot, RepairPal gives it a reliability score of 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking it 13th out of 26 among midsize SUVs. The average repair cost for the Pilot is $542, which is still below the market’s average repair cost.
Other reports give it an even higher overall reliability rating of 4.5 out of 5. These reports say it will likely last a long period and probably have fewer issues. They also point out that the Honda pilot delivers great mileage.
Therefore, it’s safe to say the Honda Pilot is a reliable vehicle that is affordable to buy and maintain.
What Honda Pilot Years Are the Most Reliable?
It’s important to note that the 2023 model is not included in this list because we feel it’s too early to determine if it’s one of the best.
It was recently released, meaning very few people have seen or driven it.
Also, other years not included in this list, such as 2020, 2019, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2009 are considered good vehicles with a fair number of issues. It’s just that they’re neither very good nor too bad.
When buying a used Honda Pilot, it’s always best to go for a model with the least problems, as most vehicles become problematic after several years or miles of driving.
With that in mind, here are the best Honda Pilot years to consider.
2004 Honda Pilot
The first year of the Honda Pilot didn’t do very well as it was packed with issues.
However, the Japanese automaker was able to pick those fast and correct them when producing the following year, and that’s how we have the 2004 Honda Pilot.
The 2004 Honda Pilot is an excellent choice for active people and large families looking for versatility.
With a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 240 horsepower and 242 pound-feet of torque, the 2004 Pilot provides the acceleration and power you need to haul eight passengers without issues.
It’s paired with a 5-speed transmission and comes with four-wheel drive.
It also received good safety ratings except for the rear crash protection. Overall, the 2004 Honda Pilot received fewer complaints and excellent ratings from reviewers.
Edmunds gives it 4.8 out of 5 stars.
2006 – 2008 Honda Pilot
After the 2005 model got into trouble, Honda again worked on the issues and produced another set of good Pilots ranging from 2006 to 2008.
With that said, if you want a reliable, affordable, spacious, and powerful SUV, you should get a 2006, 2007, or 2008 Honda Pilot.
These vehicles deliver quality performance, safety, and a roomy interior. The refined V6 engine in the 2007 models makes the vehicle feel car-like, making it a favorite among reviewers.
Reviewers would say that the models could easily win you over due to their mix of comfort, utility, roominess, performance, and general car-like manners. In fact, the 2007 model was selected as the Best Buy by Consumer Guide.
The U.S. news gave the 2007 model a whopping 9.2 out of 10 reliability rating, while J.D. Power gives it an 83 out of 100. The 2008 model was even better as it scored 85 out of 100 from J.D. Power and 9.3 out of 10 from U.S. News.
2012 Honda Pilot
Though there were not many mechanical changes in the 2010 and 2011 models, the 2012 Honda Pilot stood out as the most desirable.
Apart from the voice recognition feature that wasn’t available in older models, the 2012 Honda Pilot is also popular for having fewer complaints.
It offers a comfortable ride with great safety features and passed most safety ratings well but performed poorly in the small overlap front driver test. The V6 engine allows strong and smooth power delivery.
The 2012 Honda Pilot gets a reliability rating of 80 out of 100 from J.D. Power and an excellent 7.6 out of 10 from U.S. News.
2018 Honda Pilot
Dependability, reliability, and efficiency are the definitions of the 2018 Honda Pilot.
It’s been four years since its release, and it has only had one recall so far, and this was about faulty rivets that hold the chair in place.
There were also fewer issues with transmission slippage and jerky shifting, which rarely have any safety hazards.
The 2018 Honda Pilot is a good SUV that appeals to shoppers who need lots of space, plenty of power, and a comfortable ride.
There aren’t many physical controls to control the many infotainment features, but the touch is sensitive enough to provide the response you need.
Since it’s a relatively new model, we recommend addressing the recall issue before buying this vehicle.
The 2012 Honda Pilot gets a reliability rating of 82 out of 100 from J.D. Power and an excellent 8.1 out of 10 from U.S. News.
2021 Honda Pilot
The 2021 Honda Pilot is a relatively new Honda Pilot worth buying if you’re looking to maximize modern features in an SUV. It’s a top-ranked midsize SUV with:
- adult-friendly seating,
- great performance,
- and plenty of cargo room.
The nine-speed automatic transmission makes it stand out, allowing you to accelerate smoothly and quickly without hurting your fuel mileage or speed.
The interior looks plush, and it’s full of tech features to improve your comfort and riding experience.
Overall, it’s a good SUV with a reliability rating of 79 out of 100 from J.D. Power and an excellent 8.5 out of 10 from U.S. News.
2022 Honda Pilot
The 2022 Honda Pilot is another latest model that ranks well among midsize SUVs thanks to its solid handling and acceleration, vast cargo space, and roomy interior.
This 7 to 8-seater has great features across all trims, such as full LED headlights and a bigger 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Here are more SUVs with Apple Carplay.
Reviewers also say it has a stylish cabin with welcoming seats.
The interior is full of quality materials and soft-touch plastics, with everything assembled in a satisfying finish. Behind the rearmost seats, you get 18.5 cubic feet of space.
Folding down the third-row seats gives you 55.9 cubic feet of space, and 109.2 cubic feet of space when you fold down all the rear seats.
The 2022 Honda Pilot gets a reliability rating of 81 out of 100 from J.D. Power and an excellent 8.3 out of 10 from U.S. News.
What Honda Pilot Years Should You Avoid?
Now that you know the best years to buy, let’s now look at the worst years to avoid.
2003 Honda Pilot
The 2003 Honda Pilot was the first model to introduce the Pilot into the market.
However, like most pioneer models, it had a long list of complaints and a high number of recalls totaling 14, making it one of the least dependable models.
The most frequent involved electrical issues such as failed ignition and faulty door locks. There were also significant reports of transmission malfunctions, with the noisy converter being the main issue.
It will cost you not less than $1,000 to fix a transmission issue. That’s why you may want to skip this model, especially if it has driven more than 100,000 miles.
Once the vehicle hits that mileage, you’ll experience other issues with electrical components failing.
2005 Honda Pilot
The 2005 Honda Pilot was another difficult model that also received many complaints, with a total of 15 recalls that made driving on public roads difficult and dangerous.
The main issue was the transmission malfunctions that were characterized by transmission fluid leaks.
The faulty torque converter frequently causes the 2005 Honda Pilot’s erratic and unexpected stopping, which can lead to serious road accidents.
Other issues include the stubborn electrical failures that affected the ignition switch, radio system, and connectivity.
2013 Honda Pilot
Although it has a good rating of 79 out of 100 reliability rating, the 2013 Honda Pilot was notorious for peeling paint. The vehicle would start to discolor before the whole coat sheets peeled off.
Honda used inferior primers and paint, which caused this issue. The problem was most common in red, blue, and black vehicles.
Part of the six recalls was also about the airbags, electrical, and engine issues.
2016 Honda Pilot
The 2016 Honda Pilot had five recalls that affected the fuel system, electrical components, seat belts, and body.
People also reported issues like cracked seals, air or water leaks, and tailgate leaks.
Users also said the vehicle’s infotainment system is not user-friendly as it had many defective components, such as steering wheel controls, infotainment system, and communication system, which affected the overall comfort and ride experience.
The vehicle’s roof can rust, and the paint doesn’t last long.
What are Some Typical Problems With the Honda Pilot Models?
We have a list here of the most seen problems across Honda Pilot models.
The most common problems associated with the Honda Pilot include the following:
- Window/Windshield Cracks
- Interior Accessories / Electrical Components Failure
- Transmission Problems
- Engine Problems
- Body / Paint Problems
- Excessive Oil Consumption
- Brake Issues
Other Best Years for Honda Pilot
The following are the best Honda pilot models based on customer feedback and industry statistics.
The 2022 model includes various additional features, which makes the vehicle a better option than other models. Among these features are an 8-inch touchscreen and full LED headlamps.
The touchscreen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The model features the TrailSport and the Sport trim levels with various unique features and rugged capabilities.
Consumers also boast about the large space, making the vehicle ideal for a family.
These newer models are also the Honda Pilot models with the highest towing capacity.
2020 + 2021
The 2021 model has a 9-speed automation transmission, an improvement from previous years, which had a 6-speed automatic transmission. It also had an improvement in other features, such as the inclusion of an automatic start and stop system.
The model featured paddle shifters and dual-zone climate control. Trim was also added to fit between the touring trims and EX.
The 2020 model did not include many improvements from previous years. However, the Black Edition trim was among the new features.
The trim facilitates all-wheel drive and blacked-out exterior sections.
The V6 engine offered drivers more efficiency than the 2019 model, which had various engine issues.
One of the most significant changes in the 2018 model was its fuel-economy capacity.
Regardless of its size and power, the vehicle came at the top of the list for being good at fuel economy. The company introduced the exterior color, Deep Scarlet, to attract buyers’ attention.
The red vehicle has a sleek appearance.
The model has fewer problems than the 2016 version. It featured various trims, which included high-end touring and the LX.
The LX trim offers a reliable choice for people who love quiet and practical cars.
According to the NHTSA complaint, the 2014 model had minimal problems among all the other Honda Pilots from the previous years.
The car received much consumer praise, thus making it one of the best-selling Honda pilot models.
The 2010 model was the second latest model of the second generation and, therefore, had various improvements from the previous models.
It got a more upright and boxier styling than the previous models.
It also presented fewer issues than first-generation vehicles.
The 2009 model was the first in the second generation and, therefore, had a lot of improvements from the previous models.
It had a better appearance and presented fewer problems than the other models.
Other Honda Pilot Years to Avoid
Although Hinda Pilot vehicles are among the company’s best-selling, some models received negative consumer reviews. These reviews focused on the issues that the vehicles exhibited.
We also have a list of the most seen problems in Honda Pilots.
The following are the Honda pilot vehicles to avoid.
The 2019 vehicles had engine issues.
Some consumers pointed out difficulties getting the vehicle to run after stopping.
The auto-engine turn-off feature would not restart the engine, and the vehicle occasionally had issues with the transmission jerks.
Sometimes, the radio screen would not work, and the infotainment system would freeze.
The 2017 Honda Pilot has issues with the start-stop feature for the vehicle’s engine.
Some drivers pointed out that their vehicles would not restart after stopping. The cars would also have an issue with the check engine’s light, hood flexing, and hard shifting.
The 2016 model was the most affected by the engine’s auto-start feature.
It also faced other issues, such as:
- transmission failures,
- a malfunction of the fuel injector,
- and transmission jerks.
Among the common issues associated with this model are transmission and engine failures.
Drivers would complain of the vehicle stalling or stopping for no reason. The car would also present a lot of vibrations, making it uncomfortable to drive.
Other issues were paint peeling or chirping and oil burning.
The common issue for this model was the airbags.
The airbags would explode unexpectedly and produce shrapnel, thus putting the drivers at risk of injury.
They would also have:
- pulsating brakes,
- engine misfires,
- and poor-quality tires.
It was the second model, and drivers complained of sudden jerks, lurches, and shudders.
The vehicles also had transmission issues whereby the fluid would leak into the radiator. They had a bad torque converter.
The major issue about this model was the transmission torque converter.
The issue would commonly occur at 100,000 miles. A transmission replacement was the only reliable solution. The vehicles also faced issues with transmission shudders, a key that would not enter the ignition, and transmission shudders.
2003 had many mechanical issues, such as powertrain defects which caused engine misfiring. The problem caused safety-related issues that could risk the drivers’ lives while on the road.
They could also experience transmission failures and a noisy torque converter.
1st Generation (2003 to 2008)
The 1st generation features three engine types, with upgrades done every year. The 2003 and 2004 models have a V6 engine. In 2005, they boosted the engine to enhance the vehicle’s horsepower.
In the 2006 model, the consumer would choose between a front-wheel drive and a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Some vehicles from this generation had engine and transmission issues.
2nd Generation (2009 to 2015)
The main improvement from the previous generation is the gearshift’s position.
The manufacturers moved it to the console for easier access. It also has traction control and lock brakes for enhanced safety. Some models include a power moonroof, a satellite navigation system, and a climate control feature.
Some models also have transmission and engine issues.
3rd Generation (2016 to present)
The vehicles in this generation are larger than those from the previous generations.
However, they weigh less and have more efficient features, such as LED lights and 20-inch tires on some models. Some of the models face engine and transmission issues.
They also have safety upgrades, such as:
- the mirror camera on the passenger’s side,
- a warning system for lane departure,
- and blind spot monitoring.
Most of the adjustments in this generation were made in the 2019 model.
Which Honda Pilot Generation Should You Buy?
The choice of the Honda Pilot generation depends on various factors.
For instance, if you are working on a low budget, first-generation vehicles would make an ideal choice. However, you would need access to a mechanic familiar with these vehicles to make repairs whenever necessary.
Second-generation cars make the best choice if you prefer a vehicle with minimal issues.
When you buy a second-generation vehicle, expect to make minimal trips to the mechanic.
What Year Is the Most Reliable Honda Pilot?
When choosing a Honda Pilot to buy, many people consider the vehicle’s affordability and chances of facing issues.
In this case, the 2008 model is among the most reliable. It is affordable and presents users with minimal challenges. It is among the top vehicles in the best Hinda Pilot cars list. The 2022 model also features modern technology, thus offering users the preferred features.
An example is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
What Are the Most Common Problems With Honda Pilots?
A faulty auto-start system is among the common issues of Honda Pilot vehicles.
The problem is common for most Honda pilots to avoid. These vehicles face transmission issues, chipping paint, hood flexing, and hard shifting. The problems facing the car vary from one model to another.
Some of the latest models have minimal issues, thus making it the top list of the best Honda Pilot vehicles an individual should buy.
How Many Miles Will a Pilot Last?
According to industry statistics, the Hinda Pilot can go up to 300,000 miles.
Most owners whose vehicles have reached 200,000 don’t report any mile-related issues. Honda mechanics also point out that the vehicle’s maintenance plays an important role in determining the miles it can go.
Therefore, it’s best to have a trusted mechanic maintain your car to ensure it lasts for a long period.
What Are the Closest Competitors to the Honda Pilot?
When considering the closest competitors to the Hinda Pilot, it’s important to consider some of its features. Among such features are speed, space, and functionality.
In this case, the closest competitors include:
- Toyota Highlander,
- Jeep Grand Cherokee,
- Jeep Wrangler,
- Ford Explorer,
- Subaru Outback,
- and Toyota 4Runner.
These vehicles compare to the Honda Pilot in different aspects such as size, a common feature most consumers consider when buying the vehicle.
They also have competitive prices.
How Long Do the Transmissions Normally Last on These Models?
The lifespan of a Honda Pilot’s transmission depends on how well you maintain the vehicle. On well-maintained vehicles, it could last for approximately 200,000 miles. The transmission requires a regular change of fluid.
Mechanics recommend that an individual should change the fluid every 36,000 miles or three years.
Abusing the transmission would greatly reduce its lifespan.
Back to overviews: Best & Worst Years Per Honda Model.
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.