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Fuel Economy Update for December — Early Disappointment - 2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited January 2016 in Honda
imageFuel Economy Update for December — Early Disappointment - 2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test

December ended quietly and unimpressively for our 2016 Honda Pilot, especially from a fuel economy standpoint.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • vvkvvk Posts: 193
    > so-called "professionals" routinely top-up a tank mercilessly with several clicks

    Yes, I hate this, too. But it is easy to ask them not to do this. Just open your mouth and say "no top up, please." It works.

    Also, there is absolutely no way this kind of vehicle will achieve 26 mpg driven normally. Maybe if you drive at a steady 50 mph on level roads.
  • Our 2013 Pilot was definitely not state of the art when it was new (its great for what it does, though), but seeing the MPG numbers calculating on the fly has been an eye opening experience. For instance, our road trip (mostly highway) down from North GA to Florida averaged about 23.4 MPG or so. On the way back, it was only about 19 MPG. Why? Because our speed. Traffic was heavy on the way down, so we frequently stayed under 60 mph. On the way home, it was clear sailing, so > 80 mph (70 mph speed limit) was common. Its amazing. One time we headed west on a flat 55-60 mph casual highway and hit 30 mpg for a couple hundred miles. HOWEVER, once higher speeds hit (and more hills), that dropped very quickly.
  • nate001nate001 Posts: 102
    I think an update to the Gov fuel economy tests are in order. it seems like they consistently fail to match the real world. Now if the tests are flawed or the manufacturers are building to beat the test I don't know, but ether way they need to make adjustments to fix the issue or the numbers they publish are worthless to consumers.
  • After about 18 months to 2 years of production, we will set out to buy an LX. That package has what we need and a nice six speed auto. Hopefully by that time, most quality control issues will have been addressed and dealers won't be treating potential customers as if they're selling collector cars.
    In one instance, I politely told the sales manager that they are making them everyday, so please stop with the business of demand exceeding supply and your his offer of a minimal discount. From what I can see, the lots have a very good supply. Typical, but not unexpected, behavior of Honda sales staff whenever there is a new release. I've owned 4 Hondas over the years and the worst buying experience I had was with my 2001 Odyssey.
  • threxxthrexx Posts: 42
    I have a 2014 Odyssey, and I've paid a lot of attention to its fuel economy. It's rated at 19/28 and has a 3.5 V6 with VCM, sharing a lot with what's in this Pilot.
    My experience has shown that the van does GREAT when its variable cylinder management system is able to stay on 3 or 4 cylinders. Generally speaking that means driving on mostly flat roads, or roads with very slow inclines, and staying under 75 mph or even under 70 mph if driving into a head wind or with the A/C cranked up. In these conditions the van can manage 30-32 mpg!
    However if you go up to 80 mph and/or drive on highways with lots of ups and downs, you might be lucky to even get 21-22 mpg. The hills cause a double-whammy to MPG, because on the way up the hill, the VCM can't stay on, and the car may even have to down shift. Then going back down the hill, if the cruise control is enabled and the hill is steep enough in decent to cause the car to exceed its set speed, the transmission will downshift to slow the van down, which of course kills fuel economy too.

    I really wish they would put a 'economy cruise' mode on the Odyssey (and pilot), which I would envision to keep VCM on if at all possible... not kicking out of VCM mode unless my set cruise speed is at least 10mph over the speed the van is able to maintain. That way on the way up a hill, the car will bleed some speed but stay in VCM (maintaining as much speed as it can on 3 or 4 cylinders), and on the way down the hill, it won't feel the need to downshift and slow the car down because it will have extra speed it needs to gain to get back to my set speed.

    I know this would make a HUGE difference because if I go to the effort of manually controlling the throttle on the highway, and carefully only pushing far enough down to not come out of VCM mode, I end up getting 30+ mpg on those same hilly roads that cruise control only gets 22 mpg from.
  • My 2011 Honda Pilot Touring 4wd with it's old school 5spd transmission with 82k miles lifetime average is 18.7mpg
  • farvyfarvy Posts: 34
    I don't think you will make even the combined rating in this thing, or any car, with four people & packed with luggage. Dan probably wasn't hypermiling either. Small increases in speed result in much lower fuel economy because aero drag is an exponential curve, as Threxx has experienced.

    Put one person in it, with no cargo, & then see how it does.
  • ducky10ducky10 Posts: 27
    Also, winter fuel blends cut mpg.
  • Wow that's pretty dismal as our 2011 Touring AWD Pilot gets 17 running around town and 21-22 on a trip. at 60-65 we can get that up to 24 or so. The problem is the Honda 3.5 has to work hard to move something so big and even the newer one with more power. Its just not a torquey motor. Sounds great revving out and it moves when the RPMS are up but anytime we drive more stop and go, we tow our tent trailer or have even slight hills the mileage drops drastically because the engine works so hard.

    However, it seems like most people on the forum are getting better mileage than that. Lots of complaints on the 9 speed auto though although people say it smooths out as it learns your driving and you get a few miles on it, not good for a car that changes drivers a bunch so it will be interesting to see if anybody ends up liking this transmission at Edmunds.

    But going that fast and the slog up I5 into Oregon has a lot of uphill run to it, I'd say with a full load and for the Honda 3.5 its probably not that bad. I think everyone needs to keep in mind that EPA ratings are best case scenario... 4 people and full of luggage easily adds almost a 1k lbs of payload!

  • 5vzfe5vzfe Posts: 161
    That sucks about the topping off you've expirienced. I've never purchased gas anywhere other than in Oregon since I've been driving and I've never had anyone try to round up or top off my tank. As far as gas mileage goes, I've noticed that my mpg drops to the combined rating or lower for my 2002 4Runner during the winter months even with the cruise control set at 65 mph up I-5. During the summer though, I've easily beat the highway rating for my tank average with some driving around town thrown in. Something about the weather or the gas used in the winter affects efficiency.
  • 2016 Pilot EX-L AWD (6-speed)
    Normal load - recent round-trip from Phoenix to Flagstaff and back (same day, same road & weather conditions) ...

    Normal load = 2 adults, 4 children, 100lbs. of cargo ... ~700lbs. total.


    Phoenix to Flagstaff - 21.2 mpg (mostly uphill)

    Flagstaff to Phoenix - 27.5 mpg (mostly downhill)

    Wind conditions ... 30 mph, West-to-East crosswind, with a slight southeasterly kick. This hurt slightly going to Flagstaff and helped slightly returning to Phoenix.

    Our combined mileage on city freeways & surface streets is 23.2 mpg. We have 1500 miles on our new Pilot so far. I know that's not a lot of miles to base my opinion on; however, I am basically getting exactly what the manufacturer numbers purport ... and quite happy and impressed thus far. I am fortunate to get 24mpg combined with my 2007 CRV EX AWD, with 150K on it.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 13,390
    edited January 2016
    MPG isn't the Pilot's strong suit. According to my fully dashboard, our 2011 4WD EXL w/ Navigation (72K Miles) is averaging 16 mpg overall. My wife did 14.6 on her last tankful. I've only broken 20 a handful of times. Interior space (we are a family of 5), cargo capacity, reliability, durability, 4WD, & ride comfort are why we bought our Pilot new back in 2011. Given the Pilot's size, your average MPG is respectable given how green the engine still is.

    The 9 Speed Automatic is getting terrible reviews on both this Pilot and your long term #Acura #TLX.

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2015 Infiniti Q40 AWD, 2017 Honda Pilot Touring AWD

  • nyccarguy said:

    MPG isn't the Pilot's strong suit. According to my fully dashboard, our 2011 4WD EXL w/ Navigation (72K Miles) is averaging 16 mpg overall. My wife did 14.6 on her last tankful. I've only broken 20 a handful of times. Interior space (we are a family of 5), cargo capacity, reliability, durability, 4WD, & ride comfort are why we bought our Pilot new back in 2011. Given the Pilot's size, your average MPG is respectable given how green the engine still is.

    The 9 Speed Automatic is getting terrible reviews on both this Pilot and your long term #Acura #TLX.

    Whoa. You and your wife must have a heavy foot, or constantly drive in stop & go traffic. My '05 Ford F-150 Supercrew, 4WD with a 5.4L V8 averaged 14 mpg (mixed) driving. Flat highway runs were commonly 18-19mpg. If you can't average 17+ mpg with any generation of the Pilot, I would seriously consider a tune-up, transmission-flush, alignment ....that is if you don't just prefer driving it like you stole it. ;)
  • Heck my little sister has an old first-gen Pilot (I think it's a 2003). When we visited her in Portland this last summer, she let us use it while we were there. I burned through 3 tanks while we were there (we day-tripped a lot while we were there) ....and I calculated 18, 20 & 21mpg at the four different fill-ups (no calculation on the first fill-up, of course.)
  • The reasons that cars get poor mileage in the winter are denser air so more air resistance, and the engine running richer for a longer time while the engine reaches operating temperature.
  • While colder air is slightly more dense than colder air, the density variance between "winter air" and "summer air" is negligible ....at least when it comes to your car's intake system. In fact, most cars perform better and burn cleaner with cold air. (Hence intercoolers, nitrous, etc.) Humidity and the dewpoint are probably a significant factor in mass air flow into today's modern engines.
  • The reasons that cars get poor mileage in the winter are denser air so more air resistance, and the engine running richer for a longer time while the engine reaches operating temperature.

    Cars get poor mileage in the winter is because of the winter fuel blend that refineries put out and other factors. Winter fuel makes cold starts easier because it vaporizes better than normal gas but it has less energy so more fuel is needed. Also since winter is usually cold, wet, and dark there is a higher electrical load to run lights, wipers, heated seats, rear window defroster and heated mirrors. The alternator will demand more power from the engine. Fluids are also thicker and the engine and transmission have to overcome the drag from thick fluids until they warm up. Cold weather causes tires to lose pressure and low tire pressure will also increase fuel burn. And as others have said aerodynamic drag is greater due to the denser air.

    With all that said I think the Pilot did pretty good considering the engine is still green, and it was loaded with 4 people and all of their luggage on board.
  • Update. We've now owned our 2016 Pilot EX-L (AWD) for nearly 5 months now. We've put it thru a few paces including towing our 3500lb hi-wall tent trailer. On the fuel mileage front, I continue to be impressed.

    7500 miles ... lifetime fuel efficiency thus far, 21 MPG combined. We've seen 26-27 MPG on a couple of tank fulls where the round-trip was light and flat.

    Camping Trip #1: Approximately 300 miles round-trip. Very few elevation changes. 17.5 MPG round-trip. The Pilot pulled our 3500lb tent trailer with ease.

    Camping Trip #2: Approximately 240 miles round-trip. Several elevation changes. 14.5 MPG round-trip. Again the Pilot shined and never had any problems achieving posted speed-limits. Steep inclines were limited to about 55mph (without over-revving the engine) ... but that was fine for the task at hand / posted speed limits.

    My major complaint about the Pilot's towing abilities are the really soft rear suspension. The towing capacity tongue-weight rating is a little to generous IMHO, unless you're going to use a weight distribution hitch or find away to install air bags on the rear axle. Because towing weight and tongue weight is generally a 10 to 1 ratio (tongue weight = 10% of trailer weight), I would probably not recommend towing anything over 3000lb without a weight distribution hitch or modification to the Pilot's rear suspension (e.g. air bags or stiffer shocks/springs).

    Camping Trip #2 included a really chunked-up, two-track getting into the campground. Because of the rear sag, my pop-up trailer's slide-out step (for entering the camper once parked) was bent, and one of the rear plastic mud "flaps" on the Pilot took a lickin' too.

    I actually just decided to buy another truck, so that will probably assume the towing needs of our household.
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