2019 Honda Pilot Review

Lets face it, it is 2019, and being seen inside as mini-van is no longer cool. What do you do when you need the utility of a mini-van but doesn't want to be seen driving one? You get the next best thing, a 3-row SUV. For Honda, the third generation Pilot is that vehicle.

The 2019 Honda Pilot is refreshed both inside and out with a long list of upgrades including a new infotainment system, a bolder exterior, and a Canada exclusive Black Edition trim. Thanks to Honda Canada, I was loaned the 2019 Honda Pilot Touring for one week. Below is my unbiased review.

The exterior of the 2019 Pilot has gotten some upgrades to look less mini-van like. In the front, there is a new grille that looks similar to the one on the Accord. There is a pair of new LED daytime running lights and new set of jeweled eye LED headlights. A chrome looking skid plate makes the pilot look more off-road worthy, although it is purely decorative.

The rear profile of the Pilot mirrors its front fascia with slimmer taillights and chrome looking skid plate on the bumper. The hands-free electric tailgate is long and wide for easy access to the trunk. The electric tailgate can be activated by foot to both open and close.

The side of the 2019 Honda Pilot looks very similar to the 2019 Passport that we have recently reviewed. Being 6 inches longer and 1 inch lower, the Pilot doesn't look as rugged as the Passport. I think Honda does a reasonably good job of not reminding us how big the Pilot is. While the exterior might not standout among the crowd, the Pilot certainly distances itself from a mini-van.

The 2019 Honda Pilot comes as either a 7-seater with two seats in the second row, or as a 8-seater with three seats in the middle. The front cabin of the Pilot is identical to that of the Passport. The lack of a physical shift stick gives the cabin a roomy, modern vibe.

The blend of material chosen for the cabin is a combination of premium, soft-touch material and hard plastics. Gloss piano black trims are used everywhere, even on the steering wheel. They are finger print magnets and can be easily scratched. It might be a problem for a heavily used family vehicle.

There are dedicated physical buttons for the climate control system. They are smartly designed and provide great tactile feedback. The captain style front seats are both heated and cooled. They are exceedingly comfortable even on long drives. Racketing armrests are a nice way to accommodate  physiques of different drivers.

The second row seats in our 7-seater are the same comfortable captain style seats. There is plenty of legroom for the passengers in the middle, and a huge grippy tray table between the two seats. The middle windows come with roll-up sun screens. They provide a great theater like experience when enjoying the fold-down infotainment display.

The third row can accommodate three people albeit not very comfortably. It is best reserved for the little ones in the family. A massive sunroof in the rear makes the second and third row cabin feel roomier than it already is.

The infotainment system of the Pilot has been upgraded for 2019. The 8" display located in the center console is large and crisp. The screen is tilted up slightly, and can become hard to read in direct sunlight. The overall system response is fast, but the navigation map is slow to zoom in and out. There is finally a physical volume control knob instead of the touchscreen slider. It would be awesome if they can make one for the tuner as well.

Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are finally standard. There is a wireless charging pad in the center console, and plenty of USB charging points throughout the cabin for both the front and rear passengers.

The Pilot comes with a feature called Cabin Talk, which allows the driver to become a PA announcer with the touch of a button. The message would be broadcasted even through the connected headsets, which means no more shouting to your kids watching their favorite shows. The fold-down entertainment screen can display content of a DVD loaded in the front center console, but it also comes preloaded with shows and animations for children. You can also cast contents from your computer or smart phone through wireless screen mirroring or the HDMI port.

The 7" TFT gauge situated in the middle of the instrument cluster is large and simple. It displays real time vehicle information such as vehicle speed and RPM, as well as customizable features such as audio information, phone information, and turn-by-turn route guidance.

Safety and Driver Assistance
Honda Sensing is standard on all Pilots. They include:
  • Brake Assist
  • Multi-Angle Rearview Camera
  • Tire Pressure Monitor
  • Collision mitigation Braking System
  • Road Departure Warning 
  • Forward Collision warning
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Automatic High Beams
Blind Spot Monitoring System is provided for all trims above EX-L.

It earns 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.

Regardless of the trim, all Pilots are propelled by the same 3.5-liter V-6 engine from last year, which provides 280 hp of power and 262 lb-ft of torque. Depending on the trim, it comes with either a 6-speed or a 9-speed automatic transmission. The 9-speed transmission have been reworked to be smoother and more responsive. In most situations, the car starts in second gear to prevent jerkiness that some have complained about in the previous generation. That changes when the car is pushed harder, or when the Sport mode is selected. There is also a dedicated Eco drive mode button. I find the engine to be too muted in Eco mode, resulting in me pushing harder on the acceleration pedal.

For a car its size, the Pilot doesn't feel slow. The engine is responsive, and the V-tech engine provides a pleasant note when pushed hard. The start-stop system has also been reworked. It now activates just a fraction of a second quicker as your foot leaves the brake pedal. It is much appreciated when trying to make a left turn in the intersection.

The suspension is definitively tuned for comfort, but the car remains composed in corners. The steering is easy and lacks feedback, great for casual urban drives. The Pilot is equipped with an intelligent AWD system that can send up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and 100 percent of that torque to either the left or right rear wheel. The driver can select from four drive modes: Normal, Snow, Mud, and Sand. It is also capable of towing up to 1588kg without a transmission cooler, or 2268kg with the factory installed tow package.

The 2019 Pilot is rated at 12.4L/100km city and 9.3L/100km highway. Our mostly city test drive returns a fuel economy rating of 12.7L/100km.

Cargo Space & Storage
One of the most important jobs of a 3-row SUV is to haul cargo, lots of it. And the Pilot achieves that beautifully. Behind the third row seats is a fully carpeted area that provides 510L of useful cargo space. With the third row seat-backs folded, the cargo volume is increased to 1583L. To fold the second row seats completely flat, you will have to remove the headrests. With that done and the second row seat-backs folded flat, there is a whopping 3072L of cargo space, 867L more than the Passport.

There is a hidden storage compartment under the cargo floor near the rear bumper. It is easily accessed by lifting the floor board.  

There are also plenty of storage options for smaller items in the cabin. They include a large center console storage bin with a rolling cover, a large table tray between the 2nd row seats, and deep door pockets. 

The Honda Pilot has always been a solid 3-row SUV, but the 2019 upgrades make it even more appealing. The upgraded infotainment system helps the Pilot to fend off some of its newer competitors like the Volkswagen Atlas and the Hyundai Palisade. Although I prefer the look of its little brother, the 2019 Honda Passport, the Pilot offers everything the Passport does and more. It provides more seats and more cargo space with minimal increase to the price and fuel consumption. The 2019 Honda Pilot remains one of the best 3-row crossover on the market.

Test Vehicle
2019 Honda Pilot Touring 7P
$55,930 CAD with Freight & PDI
Platinum White Pearl


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