2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 BMW X5

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Honda Pilot 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 BMW X5 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the Pilot and the X5 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda Pilot is safer than the BMW X5:

Pilot

X5

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

Warranty

Honda’s powertrain warranty covers the Pilot 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the X5. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the X5 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 3 times as many Honda dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the X5 have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in initial quality. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th.

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Pilot’s fuel efficiency. The X5 doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The X5 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Pilot has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The X5 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the X5.

Tires and Wheels

The Pilot has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The X5 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Pilot (except LX)’s optional drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The X5 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For better maneuverability, the Pilot’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the X5’s (39.4 feet vs. 41.4 feet).

Chassis

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 800 to 850 pounds less than the BMW X5.

The Pilot uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The X5 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Pilot Elite 4WD is quieter than the X5 xDrive40i (37 vs. 39 dB).

Passenger Space

The Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the X5 can only carry up to 7.

The Pilot has 1.1 inches more front legroom, 2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.5 inches more rear headroom, 1 inch more rear legroom and 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the X5.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The X5’s middle row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Pilot’s cargo area provides more volume than the X5.

Pilot

X5

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

33.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

72.3 cubic feet

The Pilot’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The X5’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

Ergonomics

The Pilot (except LX/EX) offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X5 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Model Availability

The Pilot is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The X5 doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pilot is less expensive to operate than the X5 because it costs $537 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the X5, including $226 less for a water pump, $1482 less for a muffler, $146 less for front brake pads, $201 less for a starter, $259 less for fuel injection, $3 less for a fuel pump, $350 less for front struts, $1409 less for a timing belt/chain and $1421 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

X5

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

Top Pick

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the BMW X5 by almost four to one during 2018.

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

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