The Third-Generation Honda Pilot Leads the Pack

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2019 Honda Pilot

Sometimes a new vehicle is introduced, and in the nanosecond a Bugatti Veyron accelerates to 100 miles per hour decades have passed. So it is with the Honda Pilot.

The 2019 edition marks the fourth year of the Pilot’s third generation, and its tenure has seemingly advanced in a flash. Changes are plentiful as competition remains intense among SUVs, the industry’s selling beacon. The Pilot is top-rated among mid-sized, three-row SUVs. The Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander and Volkswagen Atlas are in close pursuit.

Last year marked the Pilot’s 25th year, and for 2019 Honda’s largest SUV has a lot new: front and rear fascias, LED headlights, bumpers and revised tail- lights. A hands-free tailgate is now available.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now included as standard features in conjunction with the eight-inch navigation system. New also is an improved menu structure with a small row of shortcuts to access commonly used functions.

Honda Sensing, the suite of features to alert drivers of impending risk and assists in dangerous driving, is now standard on all trims. There’s also a keen new steering wheel design. It complements the overall high-quality materials featured on the dash, console and inside door panels.

The Pilot is offered in five trims, configured with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The most expensive Elite trim (just shy of $50,000) features the best of other levels. But it’s designated by captain’s chairs, a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, power-folding wipers, a wireless charging pad, automatic wipers and ventilated front seats.

With captain’s chairs, seating is reduced to seven, and it presents a tough call. Second-row passengers riding is spacious comfort is great. But also appealing are two back rows of three passenger seats each. It’s more practical for transporting larger groups of neighborhood kids.

The Elite model also inherits attributes of the Touring trim. Twenty-inch wheels, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a Wi-Fi hotspot and a multi-zone, 10-speaker premium system are all in the mix.

Three-row SUVs aren’t performance-oriented, but the Pilot accelerates with confidence. Paddles shifters add to the variety but aren’t necessary on an SUV. The Pilot is steady and quiet, with little wind rush or tire noise. Steering is precise, maneuverability nimble. The traits are surprisingly strong for a rugged family hauler. Honda’s idle-stop engine feature shuts off when the Pilot brakes for at least two seconds at a stop sign or intersection light.

Strong resale is an enduring attribute throughout the Honda lineup. The Pilot is no different. Its used value further adds to the SUV’s position on the front row of its class.

—James Raia, a syndicated automotive columnist based in Sacramento, Calif., publishes the website and its corresponding podcast. Contact him via


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