2019 Honda Pilot first drive review: Sugar, spice, nice

    Yesterday’s cutting-edge tech is in the present day’s obsolescence, and automakers are underneath extra stress than ever to maintain their autos related now that cabin and security know-how are two of the highest priorities of the possession expertise.

    With regards to the tech trendy automobile patrons demand, the 2019 Honda Pilot SUV now rises to the event. A wholesome replace for 2019 entails some visible updates, however focuses totally on up to date gadgetry, and that is actually all it wanted.

    When the third-gen Pilot got here out in 2016, it was a star participant within the three-row, midsize crossover phase. The 2019 mannequin 12 months’s tech transfusion breathes new life into an SUV that, even final 12 months, nonetheless felt recent and close to the highest of its class.

    Good crossover

    As quickly as you sit contained in the refreshed 2019 Honda Pilot, you’ll be able to inform this SUV is with the instances in terms of tech. Except the discount $31,450 Pilot LX, all trims above that (EX, EX-L, Touring and our loaded $48,zero20 Pilot Elite check car) include an all-new Eight-inch touchscreen that features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and — fortunately — an actual quantity knob.

    The Pilot provided Apple CarPlay and Android Auto final 12 months, however Honda has upgraded its infotainment interface to raised mirror the performance of these smartphone-based programs. The result’s a show that’s extremely sharp and simple to make use of. This 12 months, you’ll be able to reorganize system icons to your liking similar to you’ll be able to in your smartphone and since Honda’s working system is Android-based, its total really feel is acquainted.

    Much more becoming with the instances, Honda’s new infotainment system can obtain over-the-air updates similar to a Tesla — so long as you have obtained one of many prime two trims that include an embedded 4G LTE connection.

    The get together piece of the 2019 Pilot’s tech transfusion comes within the type of this new touchscreen, which mimics the texture of your smartphone.

    Sam Bendall/Roadshow

    4G LTE can be new to the Lincoln, Alabama-built Pilot. With information providers offered by AT&T, the Pilot can develop into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot for as much as seven gadgets. As well as, Pilots outfitted with an obtainable rear leisure system can stream information straight from the SUV’s built-in Wi-Fi connection.

    In entrance of the driving force is a brand new 7-inch TFT instrument show that replaces final 12 months’s four.2-inch unit. The brand new display screen integrates velocity and RPM information with telephone, music, journey or (on the highest three trims) navigation data. All of that’s managed by an up to date steering wheel with a simplified set of buttons I discovered simple to get used to.

    Different new tech options on the 2019 Honda Pilot embody CabinTalk — a characteristic already discovered within the Honda Odyssey minivan. Out there on the Pilot’s prime three trims, CabinTalk makes use of the SUV’s Bluetooth microphone to amplify your voice by the cabin’s second- and third-row audio system so you will not lose your voice when incessantly commanding little Billy to cease slapping his sister upside the top.

    The up to date Pilot (once more on the highest three trims) additionally options Honda’s “How A lot Farther” app, which is built-in into the rear leisure system. Basically, it retains your children from asking the world’s most irritating query: “Are we there but?” Actually, that query is without doubt one of the few issues extra annoying than the shortage of a quantity knob.

    Rounding out the Pilot’s new tech conveniences is wi-fi smartphone charging, which is normal on the top-spec Pilot Elite, however will be dealer-installed on decrease trims aside from the bottom LX.

    All these developments are packed right into a wrapper that is acquired a couple of visible tweaks for 2019. The entrance finish will get an up to date fascia together with normal LED low beams and extra aggressive-looking fog mild housings. Out again, there is a new bumper and rear lights with built-in LED back-up lights. All of the aesthetic upgrades assist to butch up an already good-looking (if considerably bland) exterior design.

    Inside, the extra modern-looking touchscreen, in addition to the TFT driver’s show and up to date steering wheel complement a high-quality cabin that was already well-built, snug and spacious, providing 150-plus cubic ft of house for as much as eight passengers.

    A kick-to-open energy liftgate is out there on the Pilot’s prime two trims, however we discovered it to be finicky.

    Sam Bendall/Roadshow

    Extra security and comfort, with one catch within the hatch

    Even if you happen to determine to go together with a bare-bones Pilot LX, you will nonetheless have a fairly well-equipped crossover. Honda’s Sensing suite of superior driver help programs, which incorporates adaptive cruise management, lane-keep help, highway departure mitigation, forward-collision warning and collision-mitigation braking, are normal throughout the board, however you will must improve to EX trims and above in an effort to get normal blind-spot monitoring.

    Rear cross-traffic monitoring, which final 12 months was outfitted with the highest two trims, is now provided on all Pilots besides the bottom mannequin. All Pilots now include automated excessive beams normal.

    The Pilot’s prime two trims include a hands-free kick-to-open liftgate, but it surely proved to be problematic. From the driving force’s seat, with the car in park both working or with the engine off and the ignition switched on, my urgent the rear hatch button wouldn’t open the liftgate.

    From exterior, if you happen to attempt to pull the hatch open, the liftgate’s motor will combat you rather than considerably yielding like with rivals’ hatches. That may influence your capability to shortly load groceries or baggage into the car.

    Honda says 65 % of Pilot’s patrons will go for the underside three trims, which suggests a majority of householders shall be spared frustrations much like ours when accessing this SUV’s 80-plus cubic ft of max cargo capability.

    For a three-row SUV, the 2019 Honda Pilot corners with a surprisingly minimal quantity of physique roll.

    Sam Bendall/Roadshow

    Piloting the Pilot

    With regards to the stuff that makes the Pilot transfer, not a lot is new except for some up to date software program programming for the nine-speed automated transmission (on the highest two trims) and a few quickening of the auto-stop system.

    The pre-refresh Pilot was derided for the nine-speed’s tendency to hunt for gears. For 2019, although, evidently’s been mounted. For probably the most half, the up to date nine-speed fades into the background. Solely as soon as did the transmission appear sluggish, taking a couple of second to activate kickdown throughout freeway cruising, however makes an attempt to repeat that sluggishness proved futile. For the remainder of my day of testing, the transmission was all the time ready to drop a couple of gears, permitting all the three.5-liter V6 engine’s 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque to pound its method to all 4 wheels.

    The stop-start system hiccuped on me as soon as as effectively. Continuing from a cease signal on a hill, the Pilot took a couple of second to start out after I lifted my foot off the brake and hit the accelerator. Throughout that second, the Pilot rolled again for what felt like a foot earlier than continuing ahead. In that occasion, the stop-start characteristic felt extra like a stall-start system, however except for that one misstep, for the remainder of my day with the Pilot, the setup carried out on par with different such programs.

    With obtainable torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, the Honda Pilot makes sharp administration of its four,319 kilos.

    Sam Bendall/Roadshow

    Apart from these one-time points, the Pilot delivered a powerful driving expertise throughout my check. I am not sure how Honda did it, however someway it found out a method to make a four,319-pound SUV nook with minimal physique roll. That stage cornering pairs effectively with the Pilot’s non-compulsory torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, which may visually relay its energy apportionment in actual time to the car’s TFT instrument cluster… a cool contact, certainly.

    The Pilot may use a faster steering ratio with extra really feel by the wheel, although. Because of this, it nonetheless seems like a heavy SUV, but it surely manages its weight effectively with respectable brakes, extremely composed, but still-comfortable suspension and chassis-tucking torque vectoring, all of which contribute to a assured driving expertise.

    That is appreciated whenever you’re driving the Pilot in a rush, however even whenever you’re taking it simple, the Pilot gives a stage of cabin consolation, solitude and class that is above common in a category populated with rivals such because the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander.

    Additionally, in line with EPA estimates, taking it simple will internet you anyplace between 21 and 23 miles per gallon mixed relying on trim, transmission and drive configuration.

    The Honda Pilot is poised to stay on the three-row crossover-buyer’s brief listing for years to return.

    Sam Bendall/Roadshow

    A greater best-buy

    The third-generation Honda Pilot has all the time been a house run within the three-row, midsize crossover class, and the updates it will get for 2019 solely solidify that footing. The refreshed Pilot is nice the place you anticipate it to be, with its ample roominess, consolation and tech, but it surely’s additionally surprisingly polished the place you least anticipate it to be, with its flat cornering habits and dexterous torque-vectoring character.

    Household haulers can simply fall into the basic-transportation/equipment rut, however with the Pilot, Honda has constructed one thing your complete band can get enthusiastic about. This SUV, which is on sale now, does just about every part effectively: It seems to be good inside and outside, it drives effectively — and when the going will get fast, it even handles higher than it is alleged to. Total, the up to date 2019 Honda Pilot is massive on utility and small on annoyances. It is simply the correct mix of sugar, spice and every part good that midsize crossover buyers need.

    Editors’ observe: Roadshow accepts multi-day car loans from producers in an effort to present scored editorial evaluations. All scored car evaluations are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases. Nonetheless, for this characteristic, the producer lined journey prices. That is widespread within the auto trade, as it is extra economical to ship journalists to vehicles than to ship vehicles to journalists.

    The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial staff are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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