Review: 2019 Honda Pilot gets a new attitude, included tech, improved shifts

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The 2019 Honda Pilot has been refreshed, with an updated appearance and improved innovation. Many innovative safety systems that were optional previously are standard now, and transmission moving is smoother in the 9-speed alternative. Infotainment is also more usable.

These are modifications to what was currently a well-done family three-row crossover-SUV. The Pilot is one of the very best sellers in the sector for excellent reason, though we do have some gripes about a couple of improvement misses out on– particularly in its noise levels on the highway and not-so-smooth shifting in the upgrade transmission.

The 2019 Pilot comes in five trim levels, all of which are powered by the exact same 3.5-liter V6. This engine outputs 280 horsepower (209 kW) and 262 pound-feet (355 Nm) of torque. That power goes into a six-speed automatic transmission in the very first three trim points, and into a newly-remapped 9-speed automated in the top 2 (Touring, Elite). Front-wheel drive is basic and all-wheel drive is optional.

The 6-speed automated transmission, which we drove last year, was an outstanding match for the Pilot. It’s smooth and quick about entering the correct equipment; more so when the drive mode is set to Sport for a more aggressive feel. The upgrade transmission did not have that credibility, but has seen some changes for this 2019 design year to enhance its shift patterns. We still felt some hesitation and occasional “clunk,” however– particularly when pressing the Pilot to get moving for a pass or when speeding up to survive an intersection. There is a hesitation to downshift in most drive modes (Sport excluded) and shifting can, particularly in the lower and middle gears, be rough in feel.

There are advantages to the Pilot’s 9-speed transmission, nevertheless. Gearing in the nine is much more aggressive and progressive than it is in the 6-speed. The lower equipments in the 9-speed start with a strong 4.7:1 versus the 3.4:1 in the 6. In addition, there are two times as numerous (the four uppermost gears) equipments with a sub-1:1 ratio for highway effectiveness in the 9-speed.

We had actually anticipated these gearing distinctions to indicate fuel economy differences as well. They are much less pointed than expected, however, with the 9-speed having only about a point more than the 6. The best fuel economy figures for the 2019 Honda Pilot are 20 mpg (118 l/100 km) in the city and 27 mpg (8.7 l/100 km) on the highway when geared up with front-wheel drive and the 9-speed automated. The very same setup with the 6-speed is EPA-rated at 19 mpg (124 l/100 km) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Another point is lost when going to the AWD drivetrain with either transmission.

In the real life, with the 3.5 L, 9-speed, AWD-equipped 2019 Pilot, we saw an average of 21 mpg (112 l/100 km) total in a week’s worth of mixed driving. That consisted of varied guest loads, some light cargo hauling, and a little off-pavement driving.

The other note we made during our week with the Pilot was with interior sound levels. Around town, the Pilot is smooth and good to drive with a fairly quiet interior. On the highway, however, sound levels raise significantly as tires spin and pavement discrepancies equate into the cabin. These sound levels were acceptable 10 years earlier as the standard for a lot of cars, today stand out in a sector of household haulers that’s becoming a lot more refined. The Pilot’s engine noise is smooth and inconspicuous, we did note.

An up side to the spacious interior of the 2019 Pilot is its well-designed ergonomics and outstanding new infotainment interface. The Pilot has comfy front row seating, excellent middle row captain’s chairs (a choice), and a usable (if constrained) 3rd row to accommodate seven or eight guests in all. Tri-zone environment control (standard in the Pilot) is also a benefit. Parents will like how simple it is to access the ingrained LATCH anchors in the second row of seating for kid security seat installs.

Trip convenience, in terms of how well the Pilot takes in the road, is really excellent, particularly on the highway. The Pilot is also well maneuverable in spite of its bulk, making it an excellent around-town goer. Visibility for the chauffeur is excellent, thanks to a big greenhouse and high seating position.

Interior storage is well carried out in the 2019 Honda Pilot, with lots of places to stash different items like beverages, water bottles, devices, and so forth. Cargo area is likewise great, with a wide, square rear hatch opening that uses 16 cubic feet (453 liters) behind the third row and 84 cubic feet (2,379 liters) with the second and 3rd rows folded down. They fold perfectly flat, we noted. Another boon.

For infotainment, the 2019 Pilot has low performance in the base trims, but upgrades quickly. Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are basic in the mid-level infotainment, as is an 8-inch touchscreen. So are Honda’s CabinControl and HondaLink app integration system, which includes in-car Wi-Fi and some comfort items. Amongst those is a cool “social playlist” option which adds music from a device to the Pilot’s in-car playlist for everyone to delight in. We had 2 devices easily including songs to that playlist on the infotainment screen. Users in the cabin can also send navigation to the motorist’s screen through their connected phones (the driver can pick to accept or decrease).

Many other infotainment products are well done, with the new user interface in the Pilot having a much more user-friendly feel than did the previous generation. There are four USB ports (two in advance, 2 in the back) as requirement in the Pilot and 3 12- volt plugs throughout the cabin. A 115- volt home outlet and HDMI plug featured the rear seat home entertainment upgrade.

The motorist has access to a number of chauffeur’s aids, depending upon the 2019 Honda Pilot’s trim level. At the upper-most Elite, these include a full suite of active security systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping help, and more. We noted that the collision alert and automated emergency braking system in the Pilot can be a bit aggressive and the adaptive cruise is tense, decreasing at the last minute and requiring time to speed back up when the method clears. The adaptive cruise likewise does not operate in stop-and-go traffic, shutting down when speeds go below 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).

In all, the makeovers for the 2019 Honda Pilot are a good upgrade from the conformist previous-gen of the crossover-SUV. We likewise liked the much better shift mapping for the 9-speed transmission, though it still requires some refinement. Drive quality is great in the Pilot, and few can boast the sort of interior spaciousness and ergonomics that Honda has actually perfected with this crossover. It’s comfortable, if loud, on the road and the infotainment is now among the more innovative in the sector.

The 2019 Honda Pilot is a solid family hauler with a lot going all out. Manufacturer’s retail at base is US$31,450 We drove the upper-most Elite bundle priced at $49,015 delivered.

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