Pros-More stylish. Strong engine. Smooth ride. Stable handling. Roomy. Improved transmission. AWD. Better touchscreen. Safety features.
Cons-Fairly high step up. Narrow third-row access. Odd small horizontal tachometer.
Bottom Line-One of the top midsize SUVs.
The 2019 Honda Pilot
Elite AWD has far more pros than cons and is among the most accomplished midsize SUVs.
This SUV has more aggressive front and rear styling, a smoother 9-speed automatic transmission, a new display audio touchscreen system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto integration, and a volume knob.
The Pilot comfortably seats eight with a second-row bench seat, or seven with the heated second-row captain's chairs, which were in my test Pilot.
It takes extra effort to climb into the Pilot. And I found reaching the third seat to be a trial, even with the "one-touch walk-in feature," which involved sliding a captain's chair forward. I found it best to reach the impressively roomy third row seat by sliding between the two captain's chairs. But I'm relatively thin and nimble, so that helped. While the split third-row seat area provides good legroom, adults could use more thigh room.
There's plenty of cabin space, and the cargo area is roomy enough for a week's worth of groceries, even with the split 60/40 third-row seat fully in place. Both the captain's chairs and third row seats flip forward to provide an impressively spacious cargo area. It almost makes me think, "Who needs a pickup truck?"
The Elite AWD, which I tested, is the most expensive Pilot at $48,020, but there are a variety of front and AWD Pilot models that start at $31,450. All Pilots have Honda's sensing suite of advanced safety and driver assistance technologies, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, collision mitigation braking system and three-row side curtain air bags.
Occupants sit high in the quiet Pilot AWD Elite, which has a driving position some may find overly upright. It has such features as very supportive power front seats that will be comfortable on long trips, a leather-trimmed interior, premium audio system with 10 speakers, push-button start, tri-zone automatic climate control, tilt wheel, wireless phone charger, rear camera, panoramic sunroof, blind-spot information system and a power tailgate.
Dashboard gauges can be quickly read, and dash controls are easy to use. But the small tachometer that gives horizontal r.p.m. readings seems odd, as if an afterthought.
The Pilot is powered by a responsive and fairly quiet 3.5-liter V-6 280-horsepower engine with variable cylinder management and 262 pound/feet of torque. It works with a much- improved, responsive 9-speed automatic transmission, which can be manually shifted with quick acting steering wheel paddle shifters. Acceleration is quick in town and strong on highways.
Estimated fuel economy of the Elite AWD is 19 in the city and 26 on highways, and only 87 octane fuel is required. An improved idle-stop feature helps improve fuel economy if, say, you're stuck at a railroad crossing. For the who want to squander fuel economy on cold mornings can use the remote engine start as they drink their wake-up coffee.
My test Pilot's quick steering is generally light with some road feel, the ride is smooth and handling is good. Curves can be comfortably taken at above-average speeds, thanks to such items as vehicle stability assist, fairly low profile 50-series tires, "intelligent" traction management and the AWD system.
The brake pedal has a nice linear action, and the anti-lock brakes brakes have electronic brake distribution and brake-assist features. That's reassuring to know when driving a high, 4,000-plus SUV.
Honda has removed major faults of the 2018 Pilot, leaving the new version better than ever. As a bonus, the resale value is good.