Best & Worst Honda Pilot Years

I've taken a closer look at every Honda Pilot from 2003 until this years model and categorized the best & worst years in this guide.

Choose the best Honda Pilot model year and avoid the worst one. This is the ultimate guide on the best and worst Honda Pilot model years for you.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look through the best and worst model years for this popular SUV, based on extensive research and real-world data.

Leveraging our deep analysis and industry expertise, we’ve meticulously compiled and categorized each Honda Pilot model year based on numerous factors including reliability, maintenance costs, owner ratings, and safety scores.

We’ll explore each generation of the Honda Pilot, highlighting the best and worst years, while offering in-depth information about the features, innovations, and potential problems you need to be aware of.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision about your next Honda Pilot purchase.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Related:Best & Worst Honda Accord YearsBest & Worst Honda CR-V YearsBest & Worst Honda Civic Years

Table of ContentsShow

Honda Pilot Generations

The Honda Pilot, since its inception in 2003, has been a reliable family SUV choice. Its roomy interiors, robust performance, and safety features have won it a loyal following.

Here’s a quick overview of the Pilot’s generations to help you understand the evolution of this venerable SUV:

1st generation (YF 1/2)2003-2008
2nd generation (YF 3/4)2009-2015
3rd generation (YF 5/6)2016-2022
4th generation (YG 1/2)2023-Present

Understanding the transitions and updates with each generation can make all the distinction when selecting the best year for your needs.

Honda Pilot Best, Neutral and Worst Years

In our rankings and categorizations, we consider a variety of factors including, but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

The graph compiles the data from the above sources to give a clear comparative picture of Honda Pilot’s performance over the years.

Honda Pilot Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

The following table breaks down each generation and their respective Best, Neutral, and Worst Years:

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (YF 1/2)200620072003
2nd generation (YF 3/4)2009
3rd generation (YF 5/6)2018

“Neutral Years” are those years that don’t shine as the best or the worst. They exhibit average performance and reliability, with no significant issues or standout features.

Bear in mind that negative factors such as a high number of NHTSA can lower a vehicle’s reliability and therefore, its overall score.

Now, without further ado, let’s go deeper into each generation and their respective best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Honda Pilot 1st Generation (2003-2008)

Honda Pilot 1st generation 2003 model
The 2003 Honda Pilot

The first-generation Honda Pilot, introduced in 2003, marked the automaker’s entry into the midsize crossover SUV market. It came equipped with a powerful V6 engine and was acclaimed for its spacious interior and smooth ride.

The Best Years: 2006

The 2006 model stands out as the best year for the first generation. This model saw several improvements in performance and comfort. It boasted a 3.5L V6 engine, which produced 244 horsepower, and was paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

The ’06 Pilot also offered innovative technology for its time, such as a rear entertainment system and a navigation system, along with safety features like electronic stability control and side curtain airbags.

The Neutral Years: 2007

The 2007 model year falls into the neutral category. While it didn’t introduce any significant changes, it continued to carry forward the attributes that made the Pilot popular – its reliability, spacious interior, and V6 performance.

This model maintained the status quo with minor tweaks to the interior and exterior design, keeping its reputation intact.

The Worst Years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008

The 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2008 models of the Honda Pilot are considered the worst years of the first generation.

The inaugural 2003 model faced several issues with airbags, power train, and electrical systems, resulting in high NHTSA recall numbers.

The 2004 model year also experienced power train and airbag issues, along with problems with the driver’s seat, which would loosen uncontrollably, leading to discomfort and safety concerns.

The 2005 model faced issues with airbags, power train, electronic stability control, and service brakes.

Finally, the 2008 model continued to face airbag issues, which overshadowed its otherwise reliable performance.

See NHTSA 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 Honda Pilot recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Honda Pilot 2nd Generation (2009-2015)

Honda Pilot 2nd generation 2009 model
The 2009 Honda Pilot

The second-generation Honda Pilot, introduced in 2009, sported a boxier design, and came with improvements in fuel efficiency and safety features.

The interior was redesigned for more comfort and space, and its performance was praised for good towing capacity and off-road capabilities.

The Best Years: 2009, 2015

The 2009 model introduced the second generation with a bang. It came with a more powerful 3.5L V6 engine, capable of producing 250 horsepower.

The 2009 model was praised for its improved fuel economy, roomier interior, and increased cargo capacity. It also featured advanced safety technologies such as stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side curtain airbags in all three rows.

The 2015 model year was another standout in the second generation. It introduced a new, more efficient 6-speed automatic transmission, providing smoother transitions and improved fuel economy.

Additional enhancements consisted of an 8-inch touch screen multimedia system and the implementation of Honda’s LaneWatch feature, heightening the driver’s ability to see.

The Neutral Years: 2012, 2013, 2014

The 2012, 2013, and 2014 models are categorized as neutral years. While they didn’t introduce any groundbreaking changes, they continued to offer solid performance, comfort, and reliability that the Honda Pilot was known for.

These models carried forward features from the successful 2009 model, including the powerful V6 engine and spacious interior.

The Worst Years: 2010, 2011

The 2010 and 2011 models are considered the worst years for the second-generation Honda Pilot.

The 2010 model was plagued by airbag and engine issues, causing safety concerns and affecting reliability.

The 2011 model had even more extensive issues, with reported problems related to the airbags, engine, suspension, and steering.

These substantial issues resulted in lower consumer satisfaction ratings and damaged the overall reputation of these specific models.

Best & Worst Years for Honda Pilot 3rd Generation (2016-2022)

Honda Pilot (3rd generation, 2016 model)
The 2016 Honda Pilot

The third-generation Honda Pilot, introduced in 2016, saw a major redesign. It departed from the boxy shape of its predecessor and adopted a more modern, streamlined look.

Honda also introduced a suite of new technologies and performance improvements, though not without encountering some issues.

The Best Years: 2018, 2020

In 2018, Honda addressed some of the issues faced in the earlier models of the generation and introduced the Honda Sensing suite of safety features as standard on all trims.

This system includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and collision mitigation braking. The infotainment system was updated, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became standard features.

The 2020 model further improved upon these enhancements. It stood out for its superior fuel economy, thanks to the introduction of the 9-speed automatic transmission in the upper trims.

It also boasted an impressive safety score, helped by the now-standard Honda Sensing safety technology.

The Neutral Years: 2019, 2021, 2022

The 2019, 2021, and 2022 models of the Honda Pilot fell into the neutral category. They maintained the high standards set by the best years in terms of safety and technological features but didn’t introduce any significant changes or face any severe issues.

These models offered reliable, comfortable family transportation with good fuel efficiency and performance.

The Worst Years: 2016, 2017

The early years of the third-generation Honda Pilot, 2016 and 2017, encountered some difficulties.

These models had the highest number of NHTSA complaints for the generation.

The complaints mostly revolved around engine, electrical system, and powertrain problems, which significantly affected the vehicle’s reliability.

Despite the modern design and new features introduced, these reliability issues made these years less desirable for potential buyers.

See NHTSA 2016, 2017 Honda Pilot complaints.

Honda Pilot 4th Generation (2023)

Honda Pilot 4th generation 2023 model
The 2023 Honda Pilot

The 2023 Honda Pilot ushers in the fourth generation, bringing numerous advancements and setting new standards in its class. The SUV has been redesigned, both externally and internally, reflecting Honda’s latest design language with sleek lines, a bold front fascia, and an elegant interior.

Honda has also introduced a series of upgrades in terms of technology and safety. The 2023 Pilot comes with an advanced infotainment system that features a larger, higher-resolution touch screen. Standard features now include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot, ensuring passengers remain connected and entertained during their journey.

The safety suite, Honda Sensing, has also been expanded with new features such as traffic-jam assist and low-speed braking control. Honda also improved the Pilot’s powertrain for the 2023 model, boosting its fuel efficiency and performance.

However, as with any newly introduced model, potential buyers should be aware of possible teething issues that could arise. Initial production runs can sometimes have minor problems that are ironed out in subsequent model years. It’s always wise to stay updated with consumer reviews and recalls that Honda might announce for the 2023 model.

Honda Pilot Average Resale Values

Now, let’s shift our focus toward another crucial aspect of car ownership, which is resale value. The graph below represents the average resale values of different Honda Pilot model year.

Honda Pilot Average List Price


Now, it will be much easier for you to pick the best Honda Pilot model year for yourself. Be attentive when it comes to the newest Pilot models as useful data is derived by time.

What is your personal experience with the Honda Pilot? Which generation or specific year has been your favorite, and why?

Your insights will be incredibly valuable for prospective Honda Pilot buyers. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.