2021 Honda Pilot shifts to 9-speed transmission, gets $600 price bump

The 2021 Honda Pilot three-row crossover SUV now comes with a 9-speed automatic across the lineup and a new Special Edition trim. The 9-speed that had exclusively been on top trims now replaces the 6-speed automatic on the outgoing entry-level models and comes with paddle shifters and automatic stop/start.

The 9-speed is marginally more efficient with an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined in front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive loses 1 mpg. The 6-speed in FWD was 19/27/22 mpg. 

The 2021 Pilot starts at $33,370, including destination fee, a $600 increase due to the uprated transmission and dual-zone climate control on the base LX model. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 across the lineup, except on the Elite and Black Edition models that come standard with AWD. 

In addition to the 9-speed transmission and 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, standard equipment on the 2021 Pilot includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights, automatic high beams, keyless start, and 18-inch alloy wheels. But it still only has a 5.0-inch display screen without smartphone compatibility. 

We’d upgrade to the Pilot EX trim for $36,050. It comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, remote start, automatic door locks, clever second-row seats that move forward for third-row access with the push of a button, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts. 

The new Special Edition (SE) trim slots between the EX-L ($39,480) and the Touring ($44,040) trims. The Pilot SE has the leather seats, second-row sunshades, and a driver’s seat with memory settings from the EX-L model, and adds more cosmetic flair with 20-inch black wheels, roof rails, black elements in the grille, hands-free power liftgate, and a wireless phone charger for $40,080. 

2021 Honda Pilot Special Edition

The Touring trim comes with navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system, wi-fi hotspot, heated second-row outboard seats or available captain’s chairs for $300, and exterior flourishes such as chrome door handles. The Elite trim ($49,540) makes all-wheel drive and the second-row captain’s chairs standard to seat seven passengers total, and has a dual sunroof, cooled front seats, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, and heated steering wheel. The top Black Edition is $51,040 and blacks out the chrome exterior finishes on the grille, around the windows and doors, and it comes with 20-inch black wheels, like the Special Edition. The Black Edition gets red interior accent lighting and stitching, as well as all the features on Elite. 

The 2021 Honda Pilot competes with the 2021 Toyota Highlander and 2020 Kia Telluride. It is on sale now.