The 2019 Honda Pilot is refreshed this model year to give it more appeal for families. This includes a new look, new safety, and new technologies that will keep this already popular 3-row SUV at the top of the family shopping list.
The thing about having a family is that even if you only have one or two kids, those kids will have friends, which means you could find yourself hauling a small brood home after school or soccer practice. It’s what makes large SUVs such a popular choice for families.
Not only can they handle lots of passengers, they can handle lots of cargo. As kids grow, so do their backpacks and sports equipment. A vehicle like the Honda Pilot provides all the room you need to handle everything.
The Pilot has room for 8 passengers with the option for second-row captain’s chairs on the top Elite trim if you only want seating for seven. Most of the time, that’s probably more than enough and it does make for a more comfortable and squabble-free ride for the kids.
Even with the bench seat, however, there is plenty of room for three in the second row, even for adults. There’s also room for three in the third row, but it’s a tighter squeeze for grown-ups so make the kids squish in back. They won’t really care.
On the outside, the Pilot still looks like a Pilot, but with a more rugged façade. It’s not quite as curvy and is more aggressive and less minivan-like than last year’s Pilot. Honda is playing up the Pilot’s capability with its new look because, believe it or not, this thing can handle more than paved roads.
Not every SUV can manage off-road conditions. Some will flat-out fail confronted with anything more than the field turned parking lot at the local fair. The Pilot actually has off-road chops.
Now, this isn’t an off-road beast that’s ready to take on the Rubicon. There are SUVs that can do that, but this is not that SUV. What the Pilot can do is manage much tougher off-road terrain than you’d expect.
You really can take it up a steep dirt road with loose gravel and deep ruts. You really can manage uneven surfaces that pitch the Pilot forward so one wheel is in the air and it will recover beautifully. Is it likely that you’ll do this? No. But the capability is there.
Adding to its capability is a drive mode selector that toggles between normal, mud, snow, and sand modes. Each setting customizes the throttle response and shift mapping to match specific road conditions so you don’t lose traction. No one wants to get stuck in the snow with a car full of kids and the Pilot makes it less likely you’ll ever experience that misery.
Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, which is unchanged from last year. Base trims get a 6-speed automatic while the Touring and Elite get a revised 9-Speed automatic that’s smoother. It’s a subtle difference, but it does make for a more pleasant ride.
There’s plenty of power to get the Pilot moving despite its bulk. Three-row SUVs aren’t lightweight and an underpowered engine can make the drive experience lackluster. The Pilot suffers no such problems, even when you need extra power for highway passing.
Infotainment gets a boost with revised menus that are easier to navigate and include icons you can rearrange the same way you do on a smartphone. The kids get a larger rear seat entertainment system and there’s available 4G LTE to keep everyone connected.
On the safety front, Honda Sensing is now standard on every trim. It includes road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Even if you can’t budget for the fanciest trim in the lineup, Honda makes sure you still have a solid suite of safety features for you and your family.
The 2019 Honda Pilot continues to offer the amenities families want in a comfortable and responsive SUV. The five-trim lineup is priced from $31,450 to $48,020 and is available at dealerships now.