Entering its fourth year on the market, the third-generation Honda Pilot gets a substantial redesign and a whole lot of new features and technologies for 2019. These were necessary to keep up with fresher, more modern midsize SUVs like the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas.
Let’s start with the new, Canadian-exclusive Black Edition trim featuring gloss black accents, black wheels, darkened headlights and taillights as well as red ambient lighting and red accent stitching inside.
Other design highlights include a bold new front fascia with standard LED low-beam headlights, a redesigned grille and larger fog light housings, plus new taillights, a new bumper and available chrome accents at the rear. Touring and Black Edition models get multi-element full LED headlights, power-folding mirrors with automatic dimming and some pretty slick-looking new 20-inch wheels.
In terms of practicality, the 2019 Honda Pilot remains one of the few models in its segment to offer seating for up to eight, with three-person capacity in both the second and third rows. Access to the latter is made simple and easy by the available One-Touch Walk-In feature.
A hands-free power tailgate can be had for the first time on Touring and Black Edition models. With the key fob in your pocket or handbag, you simply swing your foot under a designated area of the rear bumper to open the tailgate.
Wait, there’s more…
Updates to the 2019 Honda Pilot’s interior also include new trim around the vents, standard three-way heated front seats and wider fold-down armrests for the driver and front passenger. The new instrument cluster uses a seven-inch TFT display that can be accessed via a redesigned steering wheel with enhanced controls allowing more intuitive operation.
Connected to the user’s smartphone through Bluetooth, the HondaLink phone app provides convenient access for free services including roadside assistance, vehicle health report, service scheduling and access to the vehicle Owners Guide. Additional fee-based services such as automatic collision notification, remote door lock, security alarm alert and personal concierge are also available. Meanwhile, there’s CabinControl, a downloadable app for iPhone and Android phones, which allows passengers to use their smartphones to control a range of Pilot features. Let’s not forget Social Playlist, kind of like a virtual family jukebox, allowing up to seven connected phones to share music on a playlist that appears on the touchscreen.
For the first time, the 2019 Honda Pilot offers wireless smartphone charging as well as an embedded Telematics Control Unit on Touring and Black Edition models that can provide an LTE connection inside the vehicle. The system includes a 90-day/3GB (whichever comes first) free trial and once the trial period ends, customers will need to obtain a data plan to continue service. The system enables “Smart TV”-style video streaming of select video content directly to the rear-seat entertainment system via a Wi-Fi connection.
Similar to the Odyssey minivan, a fun, kid-friendly app called “How Much Farther?” functions as a “flight tracker” with a colorful on-screen animated marionette play that counts down time and distance to the destination that has been set into the navigation system. Pretty thoughtful, Honda.
There are no changes to the engine per se (a 3.5-litre V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque), but the nine-speed automatic transmission available on higher trim levels (a six-speed unit still comes standard) has been recalibrated for enhanced drivability and smoother shifts. It actually defaults to second-gear launches when the Intelligent Traction Management switch is in Snow mode. Meanwhile, the auto start-stop system now provides quicker restarts and more seamless operation, even when the A/C is on. All models use Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system and Intelligent Variable Torque Management AWD system with true torque-vectoring.
When can you buy it?
The 2019 Honda Pilot will go on sale on August 24 with prices ranging from $41,090 for the base LX model (a mere $500 increase compared to 2018) to $53,990 for the new Black Edition.
Come back later for information on the smaller Honda HR-V, also refreshed for 2019.