Honda Pilot: The Best Years To Buy (And The Ones You Should Steer Clear Of) - SlashGear (2024)

Cars

ByMike Shutt/

Although the Honda CR-V is the vehicle that topped the company's sales figures in 2023, it is not the only SUV offered by the Japanese automaker, especially if you want something a bit larger than a compact crossover. One of the options available to you is the Honda Pilot, which the company's offered for more than two decades. This mid-size crossover SUV has undergone a good deal of changes since its introduction, and 2022 saw the vehicle enter its fourth generation of design.

While it would be nice to just jump in with a brand new 2025 Honda Pilot that has received good marks from the likes of Car and Driver, not everyone is in the market for a fresh from-the-factory vehicle witha starting price of $39,900. That doesn't mean that a Honda Pilot has to be out of your range. You just need to look for a used version, which can cost you anywhere from a few thousand dollars less or even less than half the price of a new version. However, because the life of the Honda Pilot is so long and has had several different generations, it can be tough to decipher which model years you should be looking at and which you should turn away from as quickly as possible.

After scouring through reports from various sources regarding the reliability of the various model years, this guide aims to help you get the most out of your search for a Honda Pilot.

Pilot model years worth buying

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Let's begin with the good. The reliability ratings from publications like ConsumerReports can vary year by year for the Honda Pilot. For this particular vehicle, the more reliable models will be the ones produced during the second half of the SUV's life rather than the first.

  1. 2014/2015: These are the last two years of the second generation of the Pilot and have received relatively few complaints and recalls compared with many other Pilot years, with 2014 getting the best reliability score from ConsumerReports out of every single year. They did undergo a couple of air bag-related recalls that were part of a wide sweeping recall that affected most models of Hondas from the 2009 model year through 2015. The 2014 model also has a number of instances of paint chipping according to CarComplaints. However, in terms of true reliability, they rank among the best of the last ten years.
  2. 2018: The best bet of the third generation is the 2018 model year. This generation began with many issues, but by this time, Honda had smoothed them all out, leading to 2018 having just 12% of the complaints as the generation's first year on CarComplaints. The only major ding against it on Consumer Reports comes from a possible loud fan motor for the climate system. Beyond that, this is what you would hope to get out of a Honda Pilot.

The current generation

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The Honda Pilot is currently in its fourth generation. While it would be nice to pull up to your local Honda dealership and drive off the lot with a brand new model, that isn't in the cards for everybody. Plus, the most recent model year hasn't been around long enough to judge whether it will hold up over time. However, if you want something akin to getting a new model but isn't, you can still look to this latest generation for one. The best place to start looking is at the 2022 model of the Pilot, the first year of the fourth generation.

It has a near identical reliability rating from Consumer Reportsas the previously recommended 2018 model. In its few years of existence, ithas undergone just three recalls and has the second least number of recorded issues on CarComplaints except for the most recent 2024 model year, which again is still too soon to judge. As this vehicle isn't that old, the discount you can find between a 2022 model and a brand new 2024 or 2025 model isn't that much compared to one from 2014, but if you're only saving $5,000 or $10,000, that is still a substantial amount of money that you get to keep without worrying about getting an inferior product.

Pilot model years to avoid

Honda Pilot: The Best Years To Buy (And The Ones You Should Steer Clear Of) - SlashGear (4)

Bull-Doser/Wikimedia

The more difficult part of the decision on which Honda Pilot you want to invest in is distinguishing between the different model years that are available to you that deliver on quality. The far easier part of the process is eliminating the model years you should avoid. Here are those model years:

  1. 2003/2005: The early years for the Honda Pilot have not held up over time. For 2003, the most common complaint onConsumer Reportsconcerns the transmission, which many have completely replaced or rebuilt. The car has also undergone alot of transmission-related recalls, as well as airbag problems that stretch all across early-to-mid-2000s made Hondas. The 2005 model year adjusted the transmission issues buthas a surprising number of leaking issues, particularly from the high pressure hose connecting the hydraulic pump and steering gear for power steering. Poor sunroof installation have also resulted in leaks from the outside as well.
  2. 2016: Unfortunately, transmission issues returned this year. Drivers alsooften found changing gears to be rough and difficultthat only frequent, repeated oil and fluid changes can remedy. The vehicle's electrical system also caused a good deal of issues, from alarms randomly going off to the push button start not always working. Multiple electrical system recalls were issued, as well as recalls for fuel leaks and faulty hood latches.

[Image by Bull-Doser via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | Public domain]

How we chose these model years

Whittling down over two decades of a vehicle's existence is a rather difficult process. These seven model years were chosen to represent the best and worst of the Honda Pilot based on several factors. First and foremost, there was looking at the reliability ratings of all of the various model years from places like Consumer Reports and CarComplaints. These took precedence over things like contemporary reviews from various publications because they reflect real world experience with these vehicles over a period of time rather than a first impression a reviewer has with a vehicle when it actually was the latest model. The number of reported recalls was also an important deciding factor for which model years made it, as a vehicle with many recalls over time has proven to not be a very reliable vehicle. Lastly, we aimed toinclude a wide range of model years in order to give the reader a snapshot of each of the Pilot's four generations.

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Honda Pilot: The Best Years To Buy (And The Ones You Should Steer Clear Of) - SlashGear (2024)

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