More Gears Isn't Necessarily Better - 2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,237
edited January 2016 in Honda
More Gears Isn't Necessarily Better - 2016 Honda Pilot Long-Term Road Test

With several thousand miles under our belts, it's pretty clear that the nine-speed transmission in our 2016 Honda Pilot is not very likeable.

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  • dph1dph1 TexasMember Posts: 1
    I could not agree more cjasis. I have long owned Hondas (mostly accords) and really loved them. Simple 4 cylinder engines, and I actually liked the 4 speed auto and 5 speed auto i had in my various models. Then in 2014, I bought the previous generation Pilot with VCM. One year later, I sold it and had to move onto Toyota because Honda does not make a V6 without VCM. HORRIBLE technology! You could not maintain speed with cruise control on a grade for it trying to stay in 3 cyl mode. It got worse mileage than my new Sienna V6 with no VCM, and it had the dreaded vibration problem which Honda calls normal even though they issued a TSB to make it better. It seems like everyone is rushing to beat the EPA mileage requirements with half-baked technology that does just that, improve EPA scores. Yet, we as owners and drivers get a product that is worse to drive than a 1980s Ford Tempo. I literally now shop for cars that have older tech like the Sienna. People will say it has an engine that has been in use 15 years and lame 6 speed auto. I say it is awesome! It rides and drives like a dream - too floaty for sure, but super smooth. It seems like it will last forever unlike all of this new tech that is just waiting to break at the 60k mark. Alas, my rant is over. I am all for improved technology, but I am only for it if he makes a better driving experience in addition to improved economy.
  • ebeaudoinebeaudoin NE IllinoisMember Posts: 509
    cjasis said:

    Like the VCM system (which I also don't like) I think the 9 speed auto (or the 8 speed DCT that you guys hate in the TLX in your fleet) are probably great for helping EPA estimated mileage and then the overall EPA mileage of Honda/Acuras fleet but in the real world, they offer little to no benefit at a pretty real cost.

    The Edmunds long term TLX has the same 9-speed as that found in the 2016 Pilot Touring and Elite. The 8DCT (mated exclusively to the 4cyl engine) has received positive reviews from one of the Edmunds editors who owns one. I would love to see how a DCT with a torque converter drives.

    I agree though about gear overload. Some of the best automatic transmissions I've encountered have been 8-speed (BMW X5, Ram 1500 Hemi and Hyundai Genesis come to mind). Of course, it also comes down to programming. Those three 8-speed units have had excellent shift programming. The 9-speed found in the Honda/Acura products, as well as the 9-speed in the Jeep Cherokee V6, have, in my experience, been overdrive-eager and way too "shifty", if you will.

  • legacygtlegacygt Member Posts: 599
    edited January 2016
    Reading through the posts about the Pilot, it's hard not to notice a general sense of negativity about the vehicle. Along with this post about the transmission's behavior, we've seen poor reviews of the touchscreen, wipers, fuel efficiency, steering wheel, etc. The only completely positive post about the Pilot focused on the fuel cap. I'm seeing a number of new Pilots on the road but you have to wonder if this model (like the one before it) is continuing to trade on the reputation of the original Pilot that really stood out as a leader (and possibly originator) of the class. Does this new one keep pace with the new Highlander? What about the Dodge Durango? What about the aging CX-9 and Lamdas (both soon to be replaced)? The more I read the more I feel that Honda may have missed a chance to leapfrog up to the top of the class again.
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Amazing how the same company that makes one of the best automatic transmission in the world, the ZF 8-speed, also makes one of the worst. A ZF engineer has been quoted as saying that 8-speeds is the most gears an automatic transmission can use and still have good driveability. The 9-speed is made an offered at the request of their customers for fuel efficiency. This transmission doesn't work right in any application it's used in.

    I don't completely agree about Honda making horrible transmissions. Yes they have had problematic transmissions. My own 1998 Accord V6 had the transmission fail at 150,000 miles. But Honda's biggest problem is not beefing up their transmissions for use in V6 powered vehicles. Cars with 4 cylinders usually never have tranny problems. The new CVT is said to be one of the best in the market (for a CVT) and the new 8-speed DCT gets great reviews.
  • wheelmccoywheelmccoy Member Posts: 97
    cjasis said:

    While I don't consider myself a fanboy, I am a big Honda fan. I've owned an NSX, two S2000s, a CRV, a Civic sedan, several Integras, a Legend Coupe, and a few CBR motorcycles. I now own an Odyssey Touring Elite.

    Wow, what a great collection. I had an '87 Integra, '91 Accord, '97 Odyssey, and currently a 2012 TSX Wagon. The wagon uses the old school 5 speed automatic, and I am glad to have it.

    The outlier I have is the 2010 Mazda3 with a manual transmission. It drives like an upgraded '87 Integra.
  • tommister2tommister2 Mechanicsville, VAMember Posts: 374
    Totally agree like @dph1 I have also switched from Honda to Toyota. Honda has lost their way, in my opinion.
    2011 Toyota Camry, 2014 Jeep Wrangler, 2015 Subaru Forester, 2017 Honda Civic Coupe, 2019 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid XSE
  • emajoremajor Member Posts: 332
    I can't recall a positive review of this 9 speed transmission, regardless of the car in which it is installed. Six speeds is enough if programmed properly. The Toyota Camry/RAV4 6 speed? Lovely. VW's 6 speed slushbox in the 1.8T applications is good too. So is the 6 speed in the Accord v6. And the Sonata/Optima. I like the 7 speed in the G37. The 8 speed in the BMW 328 is reportedly wonderful. Even the Altimas CVT is responsive and smooth. This 9 speed? Garbage, both here and in other reviews and forums. How big of a difference could it make vs a 6 speed in the EPA fuel tests?
  • carguydarylcarguydaryl Member Posts: 27
    yeah hearing about all the negativity in reviews and on the forum, I'd be leary about the 9speed. We currently own a 2011 Touring and I'd specifically go down to an EX-L if we were buying a 2016 to avoid that transmission (it helps that the EXL now has a lot of the goodies we had to step up to the touring to get).

    I think Honda makes wonderful transmissions, especially manual ones. Our 5 speed in the "old" pilot works great, is a smooth shifter and is never in the wrong gear, even with that vehicles heft and aerodynamics of a house. I'm kind of surprised they went with the outsourced transmission this go around... I think it would have been cool to see the 8 speed DCT beefed up for V6 duty because that seems to give you the best of all three worlds (auto, manual, dual-clutch).
  • 5vzfe5vzfe Member Posts: 161
    I wonder how good or bad the upcoming Lexus LC 500 is going to drive with it's new 10 speed auto
  • reminderreminder Member Posts: 383
    edited January 2016
    I owned two Accords and one point. Both 4 cylinder with 5 speed autos. A 2003 & 2006. To date they were the best auto transmissions I've ever driven.
    The motor & trans were perfectly matched & the programming was excellent.
    Never was caught flat-footed or 'searching' for the right gear.
    More gears doesn't necessarily equal more of a good thing.
  • whobodymwhobodym Member Posts: 190
    I can directly confirm, 8 speed as in my 33,000 mi of Audi A5 2.0T driving is excellent, always smooth and never in the wrong gear. I've been assuming this is the same ZF transmission as used in BMWs?
  • sdiegosdiego Member Posts: 19
    I have a 2016 MB GLC 300 and with the exception of turbo lag, I find the engine and 9 speed transmission very responsive.
  • reminderreminder Member Posts: 383
    I just notice my post has a typo.
    It should be a 2006 Accord.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Fixed. :)
  • henry4hirehenry4hire Member Posts: 106
    Don't even get my started on the V6 Automatics from 98-02!!!!! :(
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    5vzfe said:

    I wonder how good or bad the upcoming Lexus LC 500 is going to drive with it's new 10 speed auto

    My guess is that Toyota will go with an Aisin unit which Toyota has a stake in.
  • diigiidiigii Member Posts: 156
    I own a 2007 Nissan Altima SE V6 with a 6-spd manual transmission. Love it. My wife does not drive manual but she likes how I drive the car with smooth shifts. Our 2012 Nissan Quest SV's V6-CVT is the best match powertrain. Even Edmunds' review 3 years ago proved that.
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