2019 Honda Pilot Review


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2019 Honda Pilot Overview

Honda introduced the current third-generation Pilot for 2016. In keeping with its traditional timelines, Honda brought a major refresh to 3-row crossover in 2019, with important styling, technology, and configuration updates.

Honda completely redid the Pilot’s front end, implementing its new “flying wing” grille motif that’s also featured on cars like the Accord, Civic, and Insight. The new grille is flanked by new headlights. Below that, there’s a new simulated silver skid plate and pronounced corner accents, with optional LED fog lights. At the rear, there are new LED taillights with amber indicators and a resculpted bumper. The Pilot also benefits from new wheel designs meant to suggest ruggedness.

Inside, there are also some changes, the most prevalent of which is a new steering wheel with enhanced controls. Other than that, the technology stack receives all the upgrades. The improved instrument cluster gets a large 7-inch multifunction display that gives crucial information about the car’s speed, but can also call up audio, trip details, and navigation information. The Pilot’s optional 8-inch Display Audio system was comprehensively redone; drivers of the 2018 and later Accord will recognize the new interface and its smartphone-like controls. It continues to come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Critics of the pre-refresh model will be happy to note that a physical Volume knob resides beside the touchscreen in the updated Pilot. Even the available rear entertainment system received an update, with a 10.2-inch widescreen LCD that swings down from the ceiling.

Honda offers plenty of first-time features for the Pilot, including 4G LTE connectivity, with a free 90-day/3-gigabyte data trial, and wireless smartphone charging. One exciting new feature is CabinControl, which lets several connected smartphones control the audio, optional entertainment system, and rear climate controls via an app. CabinControl users can also contribute music to a jukebox-like playlist that the front-seat occupants can access.

Leaving no stone unturned, Honda has made refinements to the Pilot’s mechanicals. The 3.5-liter V6, with its 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, returns for 2019, along with a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. Higher trim levels see an improved version of the 9-speed automatic transmission. Under most conditions, the 9-speed will start in second gear for smoother take-offs, using first gear only when large amounts of traction are needed. There’s also an improved stop-start system, which switches off the engine at stops to conserve fuel. The 2019 version is able to restart quicker, and thus is less noticeable, during traffic crawling. It also reduces engine deactivation when air conditioning demands are high. As before, the Pilot comes in standard front-wheel drive (FWD) and optional torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (AWD) variants. Fuel economy is identical to last year, reaching 20 mpg city, 27 highway, and 23 combined with FWD, or 18, 26, and 21 with AWD.

The LX, EX, EX-L, Touring, and Elite grades all return for 2019. The basic LX trim comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, 8 seats, new headlights with LED low beams and LED daytime-running lights, heated mirrors, and a 5-inch color audio display.

The EX trim gets keyless access, fog lights, remote start, automatic dual-zone climate control, separate rear controls, an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, body-colored exterior door handles, and a conversation mirror. 2019 brings new features to the EX, like HD Radio, automatic power windows, heated front seats, and an 8-way driver’s seat.

Next is the EX-L trim, which offers a moonroof, leather upholstery, a power tailgate, a 4-way power passenger’s seat, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and two more USB ports. For 2019, it also carries driver memory settings, a garage door opener, and a second-row sunshade. Opt for the optional navigation and the EX-L trim also throws in the rear entertainment system.

The Touring trim comes with navigation, 20-inch wheels, the 9-speed automatic transmission, heated second-row seats, full LED headlights, a roof rack, paddle shifters, premium 10-speaker audio, automatic stop-start, and chrome exterior mirrors. New features for 2019 include a power liftgate with gesture recognition, ambient tri-zone lighting, and optional captain’s chairs.

Finally, the top-spec Elite trim comes with a panoramic moonroof, a wireless charger, power-folding outside mirrors, captain’s chairs, cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, third-row floor mats, and ambient lighting.

Already competitive in the safety arena, the improved Pilot is full of the same safety features as before, only you’ll pay a lot less to get them for 2019. Honda Sensing is now standard across the range, bundling forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, road-departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control. The blind-spot monitoring system that was previously reserved for the Elite trim is now standard on the EX, EX-L, and Touring trims as well. Automatic high beams and a surround-view camera system are also on every trim. The Pilot achieves a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The 2019 Pilot brings a giant list of improvements and tweaks to an already competitive vehicle. These thoughtful touches and features are designed with drivers and their passengers in mind. Anyone shopping the large crossover segment would be remiss in not checking out the Pilot, as it is at or near the top of its class in nearly every metric.


Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.

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