As a result, the 2013 Pilot scored a top federal government fuel economy rating of 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway.
This is for a front-wheel drive Pilot that operates with a five-speed automatic transmission that smoothly shifts gears.
In the test Pilot, neither the engine nor transmission conveyed strained or annoying sounds. In fact, most transmission shifts were imperceptible and the Pilot interior was quite quiet, save for when the V-6 responded strongly and confidently in pedal-to-the-metal driving.
Power came on smoothly and steadily in city travel and at highway speeds, with the Pilot powering along on flat terrain and moving with purpose up mountainous roads.
Best of all, the Pilot needs only regular gasoline.
The Pilot's 18/25-mpg rating is matched by the 2013 Flex, but the Flex only offers seats for up to seven. The same maximum seating is true of the newly revised, 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, which comes with a CVT and posts a 20/26-mpg rating from the government.
Still, the test Pilot, which had all-wheel drive, averaged just 17.5 mpg in travel that was 70 percent in the city.
The Pilot looks neither brutish nor plain. It's cleanly styled outside, and the interior is well-organized so anyone can get inside, setting up a bit on the seats for good views out, and just drive.
A thoughtful touch: A commodious, covered center console storage that's big enough for many purses and that's positioned just below the center stack of the dashboard.
It's also appreciated that the display screen is inset a bit under a "brow" so sunshine doesn't wash out the images from the rearview camera.
At 16 feet in length and 6.5 feet wide, the Pilot is nicely sized in between the competition. It's nearly 10.5 inches shorter in length than the Flex but is a tad wider than the Pathfinder.
The Pilot doesn't feel like an extremely long vehicle when it's driven. The turning circle is an accommodating 37.9 feet.
Second-row passengers in the Pilot have a generous 38.5 inches of legroom, while the 32.1 inches for third-row riders can be expanded if second-row seats are moved forward a bit on their tracks.
Second- and third-row seats folded down easily in the tester, providing a maximum 87 cubic feet of cargo room, which is more cargo volume than the Pathfinder has.
All but the biggest road bumps were kept away from passengers in the tester, and the steering had a somewhat light feel.
Passengers could notice some weight shifting from one side of the vehicle to the other on curvy mountain roads.
The Pilot has a maximum towing capacity of 4,500 pounds and earned four out of five stars in government crash tests.
Consumer Reports puts the Pilot's predicted reliability at above average.