The Honda Pilot is easily one of the best three-row crossovers out there primarily because it's just so danged utilitarian. The inside is huge, the Pilot drives smaller than it is, and there's enough storage for a small army. Too bad it's been accused of looking a bit like a minivan, which isn't great since buyers tend to flock to big three-row crossovers in order to avoid minivans. Well, it looks like Honda's changed that with the 2019 model.
The fascia has been tweaked to look more rugged with faux skid plates in silver along with a brand new grille that's less like the actual Honda minivan, the Odyssey. The result is a more masculine, tougher look than before. Though it's by no means dramatic, it is a welcomed change. The backup lights have been moved up from the rear bumper to the actual taillight housings. It's a seemingly small change that makes the back end look more cohesive, if not more rugged.
Though the changes are small, the overall look is improved, at least we think. No one will ever mistake the Honda Pilot for a Toyota 4Runner in terms of toughness, but every little bit of image improvement helps. After all, there's only so much you can do without losing utility and space, the primary strengths of the Pilot in the first place.
Under the hood, the Pilot's (in higher trims) nine-speed has been updated to be more responsive, and that's a good thing. The result is less hesitation while downshifting. The stop/start system is also better and smoother. Since we absolutely loathe start/stop systems, this is a welcomed change. The whole idea is to save fuel and to be less intrusive. Let's hope the change is palpable.
And in what might be our biggest gripe about some Hondas is the lack of a physical volume knob. The Pilot had a crappy slider touch-a-ma-jigger thingy that was about as easy to use as a shaving with a straight razor while driving. It sucked. Well, Honda figured out that this method was stupid and brought over the one from, ironically, the Odyssey. The infotainment system is now also from the Odyssey and works far better with less lag. It really is about the little things when you have a gaggle of screaming kids in your car.
To the joy of parents everywhere, the Pilot also now has CabinTalk, a system that allows the front row folks to voice their commands to the second- and third-row passengers over an intercom. But the best part is that any rear seat entertainment can now be paused from the front row. Talk about control and conquer. There's also a “How Much Farther?” app that displays the time and distance to a destination when the navigation system is used. Even more, there's now wireless phone charging and a super-convenient 4G LTE Wi-Fi. All trim levels now also get the Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistance systems that include intelligent cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane keep assist, just to name a few.
Prices start at $32,445 for the front-wheel-drive LX all the way up to the top trim $49,015 all-wheel-drive Elite, increases of $550 across the board. The 2019 Pilot presents an even more attractive family option for big crossovers with more inside and out and a diminished likelihood that you'll be mistaken for a minivan soccer mom. How's that for improvement?