• Car Review

2019 Honda Pilot Review

By Autolist Staff | June 21, 2019

Summary

The 2019 Honda Pilot is a mid-size, three-row crossover SUV capable of seating up to eight passengers. This year's Pilot gets some minor styling updates, a revised infotainment system and some other new features as part of a mild revision.

The 2019 Pilot is part of the third generation introduced in 2016. It competes in a class alongside the likes of the Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse Subaru Ascent, Nissan Pathfinder and the Volkswagen Atlas.

The Pilot is available in five different trim levels, LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Elite.

Exterior

The Pilot's exterior styling update includes a facelift which restyles the front grille and headlamps with available LED headlights and auto on/off feature. The front bumper styling also has been updated and simplified. The rear bumper and taillights received minor updates. The taillights now feature a clear section to highlight the turn signals and the reverse lights mounted in the rear bumper have moved to the tailgate.

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Now available on the Pilot Touring and standard on the Pilot Elite trim is a hands-free power tailgate. Honda redesigned the standard aluminum alloy wheels to give a more rugged appeal, the Pilot Touring and Elite model are equipped with larger 20-inch wheels.

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Interior Quality and Comfort

Soft touch plastics on the dashboard and quality materials offer a high-quality feel but not quite as in the realm of high-end luxury SUVs.

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The controls are easy to reach and laid out ergonomically. The newly redesigned touchscreen on the Pilot has been received well and praised by online reviewers as a vast improvement over the previous models. A new steering wheel design also cleans up the layout of the controls, but drivers will mostly interact with the centrally mounted touchscreen and some physical controls for the climate control.

The front and second-row seats are comfortable and offer plenty of space especially if you opt for the 2nd-row captain's chairs available on the Pilot Touring and Pilot Elite trim models. Access to third-row seats is a bit narrow; however, the third-row seats are large enough for adults. Heated front seats are standard on the EX trim model while heated second-row captain's chairs are standard on the EX-L trim model.

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The second row offers plenty of space to install and remove car seats and the LATCH anchors are easily accessible.

Utility and Practicality

The Pilot is definitely a utility vehicle. It has an adequate amount of cargo space despite trailing in this category in the mid-size segment. Honda utilizes space as much as possible by equipping the Pilot with plenty of door pockets, cup holders and a nice small item cargo space in the center console.

With what appears to be lots of cargo space the Pilot offers just 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the third-row seats occupied, with the third row folded flat you have access to 46.8 cubic feet, fold the second and third-row seats flat, and the Pilot allows for 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space.

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Newly added for 2019, the Pilot Touring and Pilot Elite get a hands-free, powered liftgate as standard equipment. A person can wave their foot under the rear bumper to open the tailgate as long as they have the key in their pocket or bag.

The base model front-wheel-drive Pilot LX trim is capable of towing 3,500 pounds. The all-wheel-drive equipped models are competitive with the majority of V6 three-row SUVs by towing up to 5,000 pounds.

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Technology and Infotainment

The Infotainment system on the base model Pilot LX is equipped with a 5-inch display, Bluetooth, two USB outlets, a seven-speaker audio system, and a multi-angle, rearview camera standard.

The newly redesigned Infotainment system on the Pilot EX, EX-L, Touring and Elite all sport an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM and HD radio.

The Pilot EX trim model is also equipped with tri-zone climate control, remote start, smart entry, walk away auto lock, traction management and cabin control which permits connected users to control climate and radio controls from their compatible smart device standard.

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The Pilot EX-L model offers the option of Honda's navigation system paired with a Blu-ray rear entertainment system, cabin talk which is an in-car PA system, available HDMI interface and 115-volt, household-style power outlet.

The Pilot Touring is equipped standard with navigation and the rear entertainment system, 10-speaker 590-watt premium audio system and mobile hotspot capability with a subscription.

Safety and Driving Assistance

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2019 Honda Pilot was chosen as a Top Safety Pick. The Pilot scored the highest rating in every category except for front passenger crashworthiness in which it received the second highest rating of Acceptable. In the category of ease of use of the LATCH anchors the Pilot also received the second highest rating of Acceptable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Pilot a five-star overall safety rating. In frontal crash ratings, the Pilot received five out of five stars for the front driver side and four out of five stars for the front passenger side for an overall score of four out of five stars. In the side crash rating, the Pilot received five out of five stars in each of the sub-categories for side crash ratings. In the rollover category, the Pilot gets four out of five stars.

For the 2019 model year, all Pilots are equipped all with Honda sensing, which consists of both active safety and advanced driver assistance technology features as standard. First is the collision avoidance braking system. The Pilot can detect if a possible collision is present and will initiate emergency braking if the crash appears unavoidable. Next is a road departure system that can detect lane changes without using the turn signal it can steer the vehicle back into the lane and apply the brakes if necessary. The third is Honda's version of adaptive cruise control which monitors the vehicle ahead and adjusts the speed accordingly while cruise control is active, this function only works at speeds over 20 mph which can result in needing to reset the cruise control after coming to complete stops in stop and go traffic. The last standard safety feature is a lane keeping assist feature which will adjust steering to keep the vehicle in the center of a detected lane all while the driver's hands never leave the steering wheel.

Driving Experience

The Honda Pilot is available in only three different powertrain configurations. The base model Pilot LX is equipped with front-wheel-drive and a 3.5-liter V6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Pilot EX, EX-L and Touring all have the available option of pairing the V6 engine with an all-wheel-drive system and a nine-speed automatic transmission. On the Pilot Elite, the standard configuration is all-wheel drive paired with the nine-speed transmission.

The Pilot's V6 engine produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is described as abundant by reviewers but designed to conserve fuel. The Pilot is far from underpowered, yet will require extra effort at the accelerator to fully open the throttle. The once sluggish and awkward shifting on the previous model year Pilot's nine-speed transmission received heavy criticism, and Honda engineers have said they've addressed the concerns. The Pilot can sprint to 60 mph in about 7 seconds, shifting quickly and efficiently on its own or you can use the provided paddle shifters. The 7-second 0-to-60 time beats both the Subaru Ascent and the Volkswagen Atlas.

Steering on the Pilot is well-defined and above average for this class, the only critique among reviewers is the steering wheel lacks road feel. The handling is capable of changing lanes with ease and feels remarkably light on its feet compared to other three-row SUVs.

The interior cabin is quiet and does a great job of canceling tire and wind noise better than the majority of competitors in the class.

The Pilot has an all-wheel-drive system that when selected can adjust power delivery for different types of road conditions to improve handling and traction in snow, mud, and sand. Handling and steering are easy to maintain at significant speeds on off-road trails but lacks clearances and off-road assistance features such as hill descent.

As far as visibility is concerned the Pilot doesn't have any standout strengths or weaknesses, and visibility is average for this size SUV but could likely benefit with a 360-degree camera system rather than the multi-angle rear camera paired front and rear parking sensors.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel economy on the base model does not differ much from the four different powertrain configurations. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pilot LX with front-wheel-drive and the six-speed automatic transmission achieves 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway for a combined total of 22 mpg. The same Pilot equipped with an all-wheel-drive system and nine-speed automatic makes one mile per gallon better than the base model FWD for a combined total of 23 mpg. The powertrain configuration on the top trim Pilot Elite is a 3.5-liter V6 AWD paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission achieves 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway for a combined total of 22 mpg the same as the base model with a different powertrain configuration. The Pilot compares well to the rest of the competitors as just one of the competitors listed below achieve better fuel economy. Below you will find EPA estimates listed for comparable competitor powertrains in the class.

Mazda CX-9 AWD

2.5 Liter 4-Cylinder Turbo, 6-speed Auto; 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, combined total 23 mpg.

Ford Explorer 4WD

3.5 Liter 6-Cylinder Turbo, 6-speed Auto; 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, combined total 18 mpg.

Toyota Highlander 4WD

3.5 Liter 6-Cylinder, 8-speed Auto; 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, combined total 22 mpg.

Chevrolet Traverse AWD

3.6 Liter 6-Cylinder, 9-speed Auto; 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, combined total 20 mpg.

Subaru Ascent

2.4 Liter 4-Cylinder Turbo, 8-speed Auto; 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, combined total 22 mpg.

Nissan Pathfinder AWD

3.5 Liter 6-cylinder, Variable Gear Ratios; 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, combined total 21 mpg.

Volkswagen Atlas 4Motion AWD

3.6 Liter 6-Cylinder, 8-speed Auto; 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, combined total 19 mpg.

Despite already having various hybrid, electric and alternative fuel vehicles Honda has not yet entered the ring with a crossover SUV competitor.

Pricing and Value

The base model Honda Pilot is equipped with a 280-horsepower V6 engine 6-speed automatic transmission, seating for eight passengers, multi-angle rear camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, auto high beam headlights, hill start assist, rear privacy glass, push-button start and Honda's sensing suite which includes forward collision warning, emergency braking, road departure mitigation, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control standard. MSRP for the base model is listed at $31,450 plus the $1,045 destination fee brings the total to $32,495 before additional options and accessories.

Moving up the lineup the Pilot EX adopts several features which include intelligent traction management, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, 10-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, one-touch 2nd-row seats, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Sirius XM and HD Radio, remote engine start, smart entry with walk away auto lock, tri-zone auto climate control and fog lights bring the cost of and Pilot EX to $35,375 including destination before additional options and accessories.

Next in line is the Pilot EX-L which gains a leather-trimmed interior, power tailgate, one-touch power moonroof, two-position memory for driver's seat, 4-way power passenger's seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 2nd-row sunshades bring the cost to $38,805 including destination fee before additional options and accessories.

The next model is Pilot Touring which includes a 9-speed automatic transmission with idle-stop, hands-free access power tailgate, mobile hotspot capability, Blu-ray rear entertainment system, 20-inch alloy wheels, Honda navigation, 10-speaker 590-watt premium audio system, LED headlights with auto-on/off, roof rails, side mirrors with memory and LED turn signals, body-colored parking sensors, blue LED ambient lighting and HondaLink bring the total to $43,565 including destination fee before additional options and accessories.

Lastly the Pilot Elite gets equipped with AWD standard, a panoramic roof, wireless phone charger, heated 2nd-row captain's chairs, heated and ventilated front seats, perforated leather front and 2nd-row seats, heated steering wheel, multi-zone audio, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, illuminated front and 2nd-row beverage holders and LED front-row map lights bring the total to $49,065 including destination fee before additional options and accessories.

The Honda Pilot offers a solid, capable crossover SUV that provides value for the new car buyer seeking performance and capability without extra bells and whistles while still offering the must-have safety features which are becoming more common on late model vehicles.

More Photos

See more 2019 Honda Pilot Photos.