2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2018 Honda Pilot

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Honda Pilot doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The XC90’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Pilot doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Honda Pilot doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and Pilot have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Pilot’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Honda doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Pilot. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The Pilot doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Pilot doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the XC90’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The Pilot doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The XC90 offers an optional 360-Degree Surround View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Pilot only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The XC90’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Pilot doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the XC90 and the Pilot have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The Volvo XC90 weighs 421 to 1014 pounds more than the Honda Pilot. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Honda Pilot:

 

XC90

Pilot

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volvo XC90 is safer than the Honda Pilot:

 

XC90

Pilot

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

51

109

Hip Force

255 lbs.

269 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

94

233

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

42 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

12 inches

15 inches

HIC

209

406

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

45 G’s

Hip Force

383 lbs.

838 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The XC90 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Pilot’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Pilot’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Honda doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Pilot.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the XC90 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Pilot’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the XC90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the XC90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Pilot’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

The XC90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 36 more horsepower (316 vs. 280) and 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 262) than the Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6. The XC90 T8’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 120 more horsepower (400 vs. 280) and 210 lbs.-ft. more torque (472 vs. 262) than the Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6. The XC90 T8 Polestar’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 141 more horsepower (421 vs. 280) and 240 lbs.-ft. more torque (502 vs. 262) than the Pilot’s 3.5 SOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volvo XC90 is faster than the Honda Pilot:

 

XC90 T6

XC90 T8

Pilot

Zero to 60 MPH

6 sec

5.3 sec

6.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

15.5 sec

14.6 sec

17.1 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

14 sec

14.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97 MPH

98 MPH

94 MPH

Top Speed

132 MPH

132 MPH

114 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on a full charge gets better fuel mileage than the Pilot 4WD 9-spd Auto (63 city/61 hwy MPGe vs. 19 city/26 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Pilot 4WD 9-spd Auto (26 city/30 hwy vs. 19 city/26 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 gets better fuel mileage than the Pilot:

 

 

XC90

Pilot

 

2WD

T5/Auto

21 city/29 hwy

20 city/27 hwy

V6/9-spd Auto

 

 

n/a

19 city/27 hwy

V6/6-spd Auto

4WD

T5/Auto

20 city/27 hwy

19 city/26 hwy

V6/9-spd Auto

 

T6/Auto

20 city/27 hwy

18 city/26 hwy

V6/6-spd Auto

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 14 miles. The Pilot must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Pilot doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Regardless of its engine, the XC90’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Honda only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Pilot Touring/Elite.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the XC90’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Pilot:

 

XC90 T5/T6

XC90 T8

Pilot

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

14.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13.4 inches

13 inches

The XC90’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Pilot are solid, not vented.

The XC90 stops much shorter than the Pilot:

 

XC90

Pilot

 

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

183 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

153 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Pilot (275/45R20 vs. 245/60R18).

The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Pilot Touring/Elite’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC90 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Pilot’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Pilot’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The XC90 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC90’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Pilot doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 6.5 inches longer than on the Pilot (117.5 inches vs. 111 inches).

The XC90’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.7% to 48.3%) than the Pilot’s (56.1% to 43.9%). This gives the XC90 more stable handling and braking.

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the Pilot Elite 4WD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the Pilot Elite 4WD (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the XC90’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the Pilot’s (38.7 feet vs. 39.4 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 2.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Pilot (9.4 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 3.2 inches higher than on the Pilot (10.5 vs. 7.3 inches).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the XC90 T6 AWD is quieter than the Pilot Elite 4WD (71 vs. 78 dB).

Cargo Capacity

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the XC90’s optional third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Pilot doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC90’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The Pilot doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The XC90’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the Pilot’s (4000 vs. 3500 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The XC90 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Pilot uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Pilot Touring/Elite, the XC90 has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Pilot doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the XC90 and the Pilot have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the XC90 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Pilot prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The XC90’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Pilot’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Pilot doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Pilot doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The XC90 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Pilot has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the XC90 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Pilot doesn’t offer cornering lights. The XC90 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The XC90’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Honda only offers heated mirrors on the Pilot AWD EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite.

The XC90’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Pilot’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

The XC90 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Pilot offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Optional air-conditioned the front and second row seats keep the XC90’s passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The Pilot doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

The XC90 has a standard dual zone air-conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air-conditioning is only available on the Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite.

The XC90’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Pilot doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the Pilot because typical repairs cost less on the XC90 than the Pilot, including $71 less for a muffler.

Recommendations

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2016 issue and the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD won out over the Honda Pilot Elite 4WD.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The Pilot has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The Pilot has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The Pilot has never been chosen.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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