2020 Honda Pilot Black Edition review: Embracing the darkness

    This SUV is ageing gracefully.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Living as much as its title, the 2020 Honda Pilot Black Edition is, effectively, black. Giving this three-row SUV its murdered-out look is particular Crystal Black Pearl paint, black-finished 20-inch wheels and a blacked-out grille. There’s black headlight and facet trim, plus the door handles and fog-light accents are rendered on this pitch-dark hue. Black Edition badges are discovered on the grille and liftgate, plus the entrance bucket seats are embroidered with the identical textual content, stitched with black thread via the black leather-based. You get the purpose; Honda has gone overboard with black. But even should you favor extra visually vibrant automobiles, there’s nonetheless a lot to like about this Pilot.

    LikeDecent consolation in all three rowsSupple journey qualityCrisp steering feelSnarling VTEC V6

    Don’t LikeTransmission might be extra responsiveInterior beginning to look datedHomely instrument cluster

    It is probably not probably the most thrilling mannequin in its class, however Honda’s venerable household hauler remains to be good-looking and cleanly designed. Its entrance finish is pleasant and approachable whereas the rear is a straightforward, no-nonsense affair. Too dangerous its wheelbase is towards the smaller-end of the three-row crossover SUV phase. In profile, this makes the Pilot look a bit awkward, like its entrance and rear overhangs are too lengthy. A comfortable inside that is exhibiting its ageBut what’s inside is way extra necessary and this three-row utility is beginning to present its age. No, there’s nothing inherently mistaken with the Pilot’s cabin — effectively, apart from its awkward foot pedal-operated parking brake that appears like one thing pulled from a car constructed within the 1970s. It’s truly fairly good inside, spacious, effectively constructed, comfy and loaded with expertise. It’s simply different automakers are going above and past nowadays.

    The new Toyota Highlander, as an illustration, has a trendy inside that is extra upscale than the Pilot’s. The Subaru Ascent’s cabin trimmings have an edge as effectively, however the fashions which have actually raised the bar for inside high quality each hail from South Korea. The Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride really feel extra premium than the rest within the three-row crossover phase, with engaging designs, considerate touches and top-notch supplies. Despite its age, the Pilot nonetheless has an edge over the brand new Explorer. This Ford’s inside is disappointingly slapdash, with a considerably uncommon design and loads of low-rent supplies.

    A easy total format and high-quality supplies are hallmarks of the Pilot’s inside.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    My test-model Pilot’s leather-based seating surfaces are fairly good, gentle and easy, plus the plastics used on the dashboard and door panels are squishy to the contact and attractively grained. 

    As for consolation, the Pilot is suitably coddling. Its entrance seats are supportive, no complaints there, however the second-row is lower than preferrred. Those buckets are too flat for long-distance consolation and their decrease cushions are tipped ahead at an odd angle.Surprisingly, this car’s third-row seat is extra grownup pleasant than what you get in some rivals. There’s ample headroom within the Pilot’s way-back and even respectable quantities of legroom, that means grownups will not undergo undue hardship if seated there. Reducing the gymnastics required to entry that third-row seat, this Honda’s second-row buckets tilt and slide ahead on the push of a button, offering a comparatively large pathway.When it is time to haul freight as a substitute of oldsters, these backseats fold simply, opening up a generously portioned cargo maintain. Behind the third row, you rise up to 16.5 cubic ft of house. Fold these backrests down and that determine grows to round 47. Drop the second-row seats and the Pilot tops out at simply shy of 84 cubic ft. These figures evaluate very favorably to most rival fashions.
    Checkin’ the techWhen it involves expertise, there’s a lot within the Pilot, although the Honda Sensing suite of superior driver help methods is the headliner. Graciously, it’s customary throughout the mannequin vary. This bundle contains issues like computerized emergency braking, lane-keeping help, road-departure mitigation and adaptive cruise management with lane centering. That final merchandise is especially helpful. Not solely does it robotically regulate car velocity based mostly on site visitors situations, it additionally helps maintain the Pilot locked in the course of its lane, decreasing the quantity of enter required and serving to curb driver stress on lengthy journeys. Furthermore, Honda has achieved a greater job implementing this expertise than many different automakers. Not solely is it fast to reply, it is extraordinarily easy, as effectively.The Pilot’s infotainment system is colourful and principally nice, with a crisp, 8-inch touchscreen mounted excessive on the dashboard. The fundamental menu has a variety of huge, finger-friendly icons that may be simply rearranged. The total responsiveness of this technique is usually praiseworthy, although a cleaner consumer interface with a tuning knob may be good. Of course, HD and Sirius XM radio are included within the Pilot Black Edition, ditto for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a wi-fi telephone charging pad and an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot.Among many different options, push-button begin and a huge middle console are customary in each model of the Pilot, although my tester additionally options three-zone local weather management and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, plus heated and ventilated entrance chairs. There’s even a rear-seat leisure system with a 10.2-inch show and a Blu-Ray participant to maintain the kiddies occupied on lengthy drives.This shouldn’t be my favourite infotainment system, but it surely works effectively sufficient.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    VTEC energy to the folksHonda is arguably most well-known for its engines, from high-winding four-bangers to single-cylinder industrial examples utilized in moveable turbines and garden mowers. I imply, “motor” is true within the firm’s official title. True to type, the Pilot’s powertrain is a beautiful piece of labor.All variations of this household hauler characteristic a 3.5-liter V6. With single overhead camshafts, i-VTEC variable valve timing and direct gasoline injection, it pumps out a wholesome 280 horsepower with a class-competitive 262 pound-feet of torque. Helping cut back gasoline consumption, it additionally options cylinder deactivation in addition to each noise cancellation and lively engine mounts to quell undesirable sounds and vibration when it is operating on fewer than a half-dozen cylinders. Curiously, Honda presents two transmissions within the Pilot. Higher-volume trims together with the LX and EX household variants soldier on with a six-speed computerized, however Touring, Elite and Black Edition fashions characteristic a highfalutin’ nine-ratio cog-swapper. A well-known ZF-sourced unit, I’ve truly skilled this transmission in three completely different functions just lately. In addition to Honda, each Chrysler and Land Rover use this transmission. Unexpectedly, I discovered it shifted the smoothest and was most responsive within the Pacifica I just lately reviewed, although the efficiency, whereas nonetheless OK, was least fascinating within the Discovery Sport I additionally examined a couple of weeks in the past. The Pilot falls someplace in between, trending extra towards the minivan than that SUV. This transmission feels a bit gradual to enter gear when you choose one, and downshifts generally is a bit torpid as effectively. At least it is fairly easy.On the flip facet, the  Pilot’s acquired loads of mojo, scooting while you nail the accelerator. In typical Honda style, the engine sounds higher than opponents’ choices, emitting a wholesome snarl, notably because the tachometer needle sweeps previous the five-grand mark and VTEC switches over to extra aggressive camshaft profiles. Driven in a extra cheap method, that V6 stays hushed and is sort of freed from vibration. Enhancing traction in a variety of situations, all-wheel drive is customary on Pilot Black Edition fashions. It comes with 4 selectable modes together with Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand, so you may tailor the car’s response to numerous driving conditions. You can name this the corral as a result of it is the place the horses reside.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Resist the temptation to wind that V6 engine out and the Pilot is estimated to return 26 miles per gallon on the freeway. Around city you may count on 22 mpg. Combined, it is rated at 19 mpg.Of course, should you plan on towing together with your Pilot, these figures go proper out the window. All-wheel-drive variations of this SUV can drag as much as 5,000 kilos, a class-competitive determine. Front-drive fashions can solely deal with 3,500 kilos. Protecting homeowners from surprising points, the 2020 Honda Pilot comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile restricted guarantee. In the US, Puerto Rico and Canada, 24-hour emergency roadside help is included throughout that interval. As for the powertrain, it is assured for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.Over-the-road refinementDespite rolling on generously portioned 20-inch wheels, the Pilot’s journey is surprisingly limber. Impacts are properly absorbed, with little harshness from the street felt by passengers. Suspension tuning is on the softer facet, as evinced by a little bit of float when driving over massive bumps or heaves within the street. Given its unexpectedly supple journey, you’d in all probability suppose the Pilot’s dealing with can be sloppy and ponderous, however this is not the case. Its steering is gentle and fairly crisp, with uncommon accuracy for a car on this phase.Matching its journey high quality, this Honda’s inside is effectively insulated towards wind and tire noise. Even at freeway speeds, the cabin stays good and quiet.There’s rather a lot to love in regards to the Honda Pilot.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Back in blackThe Black Edition mannequin is the top of the Pilot vary and it is priced accordingly. My tester rang up at $50,840, together with $1,120 in vacation spot and dealing with charges. That’s akin to top-end variations of the Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas and Kia Telluride, although a Ford Explorer Platinum is considerably pricier. Of course, if that is too wealthy in your blood, you may at all times seize a Pilot LX, Honda’s entry-level mannequin. Including supply costs, it begins at proper round $33,000. There’s no scarcity of three-row crossovers obtainable immediately. Despite its advancing years, within the face of withering competitors, the Honda Pilot stays a wonderful choice. Yes, its inside might be a bit snazzier and I want that nine-speed transmission had been a bit extra attentive, but it surely drives effectively and is each roomy and surprisingly comfy in all three rows. What extra might you ask for in a big crossover?

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