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2019 Honda Pilot First Drive Review

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2019 Honda Pilot First Drive Review

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – Nobody anticipated the SUV craze of the Nineteen Nineties to be as huge because it was, least of all Honda. To seize the quickly increasing market, Honda, which had historically stored to best-promoting sedans, fantastically dealing with sports activities automobiles, and bikes, was pressured to companion with Isuzu and rebadge its Rodeo because the Passport. It was a smart transfer, as a result of SUVs shortly supplanted sports activities automobiles because the cool automobiles to have for picture-acutely aware drivers, placing fashions just like the Camaro and Nissan Z on hiatus, and killing off fashions just like the Mazda RX-7 altogether. In the meantime, Honda shortly set to work creating an SUV of their very own.

Since Honda did not have a lot expertise constructing giant automobiles, they went with a unibody and a drivetrain shared with the Odyssey minivan. The Pilot debuted in 2003, and oh, how the makers of physique-on-body SUVs laughed. It isn’t an actual truck, they stated. It could possibly’t go off-street, they stated. However because it seems, a car-based mostly SUV, or crossover in at the moment’s parlance, with three rows and plush sedan-like journey, was what nearly all of SUV consumers really needed anyway. Honda laughed all the best way to the financial institution.

Honda was first-to-market with a 3-row car-based mostly SUV – particularly the MDX, which was associated to however barely predated the Pilot – and has been refining that formulation ever since. And now, as even sedan gross sales are dealing with the wrath of America’s insatiable urge for food for crossovers, the Pilot is properly-poised to seek out the category’s gross sales candy spot. The 2019 mid-generational refresh has modified little almost about the Pilot’s hardware, however product planners crammed every of its 5 trim ranges chock-full of features like Steve Jobs launching a brand new iPhone.

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Maybe the most important improvement — and the one most essential to households who cannot convey themselves to tug the minivan set off — is the standardization of Honda Sensing on all trims, from the entry-degree LX to the highest-of-the-line Elite. The suite of digital safety features —adaptive cruise management, pre-collision braking, street departure mitigation, and lane-centering help — brings the Pilot consistent with rivals just like the Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander, and one-ups fashions just like the Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas, on which these features are both solely out there on greater trim ranges or as non-compulsory extras.

For 2019, Honda’s plucked a number of features from its Odyssey minivan that have been beforehand unavailable on the Pilot. EX and better trims now have CabinControl, the power to show as much as seven smartphones into remotes for the infotainment system. With the elective Rear Leisure System chosen, the favored EX-L trim provides CabinTalk, permitting mother and father in entrance to broadcast the “voice of God” into again rows by way of speaker or instantly into rugrats’ headphones. Touring and better trims get the HondaLink telematics system and 4G LTE cellular hotspot, whereas Elite fashions obtain wi-fi telephone charging suitable with each Powermat and Qi, in addition to energy-folding auto-dimming aspect mirrors.

In reality, a lot of the Pilot’s enhancements have been geared in the direction of making life extra handy once you’re hauling a brood. For instance, chief engineer Lara Harrington advised us that probably the most requested features was the palms-free tailgate, obtainable on Touring and better trims. It is activated with a kick beneath the rear bumper if the important thing fob is in your individual, however on rivals’ automobiles “individuals did not know the place to wave their foot,” she defined. “So we made our sensor wider, as vast because the rear skid plate.”

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Even the middle console had some critical thought behind it. “That skinny, sliding cowl was engineered to maintain the weight of a six-yr-previous,” PR supervisor Jimmy Jenkins revealed. “It was additionally designed in order that for those who spill any liquids on prime, it might run right into a catch tray on the console’s base, moderately than drip into the compartment,” he defined.

A number of the best design results in issues that you do not have to think about. Harrington added, “[The console’s] form and place relative to the armrests is such you could attain again to the second row a lot simpler.” Certainly, throughout our test drive a rearward seize for a heavy backpack was really easy, we did not even discover.

Preserving with that spirit, a quantity knob has returned to a lot fanfare on the infotainment show. You not need to take your eyes off the street and fiddle with a touchscreen menu merely to show up the music. It appears Honda’s discovered the lesson, “If it ain’t broke, do not repair it,” however we want the identical could possibly be stated for the gear selector. The array of buttons takes up simply as a lot area on the console as a standard shifter, however is unintuitive and requires focus to determine, versus simply slapping a lever into place.

The simplest approach to distinguish a 2019 Pilot from the pre-facelift mannequin is by wanting on the entrance. LED headlights at the moment are standard, and the grille has been redesigned to evolve to Honda’s “flying wing” company look. Mixed with a reshaped fascia, the Pilot now bears a better household resemblance to the favored CR-V and the Ridgeline pickup. The taillights and rear bumper have been redrawn too, exuding a touch of additional class. Nonetheless, we discovered the general form pretty amorphous, missing a definite id or the minimalist magnificence Honda design was as soon as recognized for. Almost all the Pilot’s rivals have stronger presence so in the event you purchase one, do not be stunned for those who stroll previous it within the Costco parking zone a number of occasions earlier than discovering it.

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Honda, for its half, says that the redesign was meant to emphasise the Pilot’s toughness on non-asphalt surfaces. They even allow us to drive onto an off-street course. Simply by dint of its floor clearance, it was capable of clear moguls and berms much more aggressive than what most Pilot pilots would dare deal with. With a 3-second hill-holding help it feels safe on steep grades. Nevertheless, any trails with uncovered rocks bigger than a soccer should be prevented resulting from an unbiased entrance suspension and the low-hanging oil pan in between.

The place the Pilot shines, although, is on unfastened surfaces. Honda has a trick all-wheel-drive system with an “clever” variable torque administration system referred to as i-VTM4. Not solely does it apportion rotational pressure entrance to again (as much as 70 % might be directed rearward), however aspect to aspect as properly (with as much as one hundred pc of rear torque to both rear wheel), making it fairly useful for see-noticed conditions the place one wheel was utterly off the bottom. Moreover, AWD Pilots include Honda’s traction administration modes for surfaces like snow, mud or sand. The system modifications the digital throttle response, shift factors, and rear-wheel bias, letting even probably the most ham-footed driver navigate tough terrain.

The 280-horsepower three.5-liter V6 with cylinder deactivation carries on unchanged. A 6-velocity automated comes standard, however Touring trims and better have a 9-velocity. We did not expertise the gear searching discovered within the 2016 mannequin this time, so maybe the shift map has been up to date. At four,319 kilos, although, the Pilot is not any S2000. Steering is tighter than that of, say, a Nissan Pathfinder, however the suspension tuning is only a tad too mushy. We all the time felt the weight of the vehicle preventing towards it, inflicting the physique to heave in sluggish movement like a pirate ship. The identical drivetrain in a Ridgeline Black Version, heavier by almost 200 kilos, feels sportier.

2019 Honda Pilot

The Pilot can pull as much as three,500 kilos, or 5,000 kilos with the non-compulsory towing package deal which provides a transmission cooler, hitch, trailer brakes and wiring hookups. With a double-axle trailer and a Civic Si race car in tow, the Pilot was surprisingly composed regardless of its brief wheelbase relative to full-size SUVs and so long as we did not make any sudden actions. The capability betters that of a CX-9 by 1,500 kilos, is the same as that of a Highlander, Explorer and Ascent, and 1,000 kilos lower than that of a Pathfinder.

Our Elite AWD tester rang in at $forty nine,015, inclusive of vacation spot expenses. That lands it proper in the midst of the category, at $715 greater than a loaded Toyota Highlander Restricted Platinum, $1,710 pricier than a maxed out Mazda CX-9 Signature, and $three,345 and dearer than a totally outfitted Subaru Ascent Touring. It stays $720 cheaper than a Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium, and virtually $5,000 lower than a Ford Explorer Platinum.

It would be straightforward to dismiss a crossover just like the Pilot as a minivan in every part however identify, however the Pilot is greater than a minivan. The 2019 Pilot now has all of the features of the Odyssey, plus i-VTM4 AWD and a few mild path and towing functionality – and not one of the metaphorical baggage. And identical to the unique Pilot, its mixture of household-pleasant features, the addition of a standard suite of safety tech, and the power to deal with mild SUV duties is what consumers – together with minivan buyers – actually need.

– 2019 Honda Pilot First Drive Review –

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