2016 Honda Pilot Earns Top Safety Pick+ From IIHS

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Honda’s all-new 2016 Pilot crossover just earned a Top Safety Pick+ score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the highest grade awarded by this organization.

Over Achiever

Models that are equipped with optional crash-prevention technologies included in the Honda Sensing suite of safety features drive away with this prestigious rating. Overall, the redesigned Pilot earned “Good” scores in each of five test categories from the IIHS. Additionally, engineers project it will earn a five-star rating from NHTSA.

Honda Sensing includes various technologies designed to prevent crashes, or if a crash is unavoidable, lessen an impact’s severity. Features like lane-keeping assist, collision-mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning are all included. These technologies are enabled by a monocular camera mounted at the top of the windshield as well as a millimeter-wave radar scanner attached to the grille.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Honda Pilot Review

“Our vision at Honda is to build safe vehicles,” said Brian Bautsch, lead safety engineer for the Pilot. Despite its latest score, he added, “We don’t chase ratings,” though undoubtedly, Honda is pleased with this vehicle’s performance.

Helping it earn that Top Safety Pick+ crown, the 2016 Pilot is more than 21 percent ultra-high-strength steel. Because of this, torsional rigidity is 25 percent greater than its predecessor’s. However, in spite of these advances, the vehicle’s overall weight is down nearly 300 pounds.

How They Did It

Underneath its new styling, the Pilot features a beefy structure that’s designed to deflect and manage the forces caused by a collision. Ahead of the passenger compartment is the vehicle’s ACE body structure, shorthand for Advanced Compatibility Engineering. This is basically the section ahead of the firewall. According to Bautsch, it’s “the main energy-absorbing area of the vehicle.”

The bottom of the 2016 Pilot features what Honda folks have coined a “three-bone” structure. Most vehicles have two main supporting structures underneath, but Honda added a third one that runs down the center of the vehicle, providing another load path to manage crash energy.

Beyond all of this, Bautsch said vehicle wheels are “extremely strong” and can pose a serious problem in crashes. Since they’re so stiff, they can get pushed backwards in an accident and cause a lot of intrusion into the passenger compartment and consequently cause lower-body injuries.

To help prevent this from happening, the Pilot’s side structure is made from ultra high-strength steel for maximum resistance to deformation. Additionally, the vehicle’s 18- and 19-inch rims were specially developed to move out of the way or fracture during a crash event. “We spend a lot of time developing those,” Bautsch said.

With the introduction of the all-new 2016 Pilot, both Honda and Acura are projected to have 11 Top Safety Pick+ rated vehicles, which is impressive. Overall, Bautsch said, “I’m very proud to have worked on this for five years.”

Discuss this story on our Honda Pilot Forum.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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Join the conversation
  • Mike Mike on Aug 22, 2015

    Horrible looking through. Looks like a rounded Odyssey. Not an improvement in that regard whatsoever.

  • Care-less Care-less on May 07, 2016

    is it so difficult to make it look good ? Just a matter of good shape