Midsize SUV Best Buy of 2019
- Seating for 7 or 8 passengers
- Honda Sensing advanced safety suite comes standard
- One-touch seats make third-row access very easy
- Pricing starts at $32,445 (including $995 destination charge) | Price yours
- On sale now | See Pilot models for sale near you
Family-Friendly in Every Row
For the fourth year in a row, the Honda Pilot is KBB’s Midsize SUV Best Buy. This category has never been an easy one to win, especially with an ever-present rival like the Toyota Highlander looming. And every year newcomers arrive, such as the new-for-2019 Subaru Ascent and the recently introduced Volkswagen Atlas -- and the Chevrolet Traverse, a familiar SUV mainstay, underwent a full redesign just last year. But Honda continues to fine-tune its already impressive Pilot, making minor changes that continue to fend off the competition. Add those evolutionary bits to the Pilot’s versatility, thoughtful features, style, and a strong reputation for reliability and durability, and the Honda Pilot reinforces its position as the most recommendable SUV in its class.
To be a vehicle that is compatible with a family’s needs, an automaker has to start by getting the basics right. The Honda Pilot comfortably seats seven or eight people. Seating is comfortable in all three rows, and buyers have a choice of a 7- or 8-passenger layout. With that many people on board, storage options are key, and Honda nails it: there’s a large center console up front, plus plenty of cupholders, cubbies and storage bins throughout the interior. That attention to interior packaging continues to the cargo area, where in addition to plentiful cargo space behind the third row, there’s also a spot to store smaller items under the cargo floor, out of sight. If you need more space, all you have to do is pull a strap on each of the rear seatbacks, which folds down the headrest and the seat. A hands-free power tailgate is also available.
When it comes to passenger access and space, the 2019 Honda Pilot’s interior is just as well thought out. There’s ample head- and legroom in the second row, even for tall people, and passengers in the second row can make seat adjustments if they like. The one-touch second-row seats, standard on all Pilots except the base LX, angle and slide forward with the push of a button. Doing that opens access to one of the roomiest third rows in the segment. Making it easier to get out of the third row is another one-touch button at the back of the second-row seats, which passengers can push to slide that second row forward and out of the way.
Features and Value
That ease of use can be seen throughout the interior, where a smartphone-inspired 8-inch touch-screen interface – with a volume knob -- is an easy way to toggle through navigation, phone and audio features. It’s also where you can use CabinTalk, an available PA-type system for speaking with people in the third row. It’s easy to reach the touch screen and the climate control buttons and toggles below, and the logical placement and large icon size ensure you can keep your eyes on the road more while using it. In addition to being functional and easy to use, the interior is tastefully designed and has quality materials with excellent fit and finish.
Also impressive is what you can get at a relatively low price point. For example, the popular Pilot EX trim starts at about $35,000, and that model comes standard with a 10-way power driver’s seat, front heated seats, tri-zone climate control, the aforementioned 8-inch screen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. And every Honda Pilot comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety technology, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and automatic braking, road departure mitigation, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Available options include Honda’s navigation system, a 115-volt power outlet, rear-seat entertainment, second-row Captain’s chairs, heated and ventilated front seats, and an upgrade to a 10-speaker, 590-watt audio system.
Driving Ease and Ride Comfort
The 2019 Honda Pilot offers the kind of ride quality you’d want in a midsize SUV: Available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive iterations, it’s comfortable and refined, and the suspension easily settles bumps and ruts at speed. However, the easygoing ride doesn’t feel mushy or too soft, retaining precision and never feeling floaty. The interior remains quiet, even when on rougher roads. The Pilot comes with only one engine, but it’s an excellent 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. Acceleration is good, and whether you choose a Pilot that uses the 6-speed automatic (LX, EX, EX-L) or the recently retuned 9-speed automatic transmission (Touring and Elite), shifts are smooth without feeling slow. With either transmission, fuel economy is better than that of many of its competitors. Steering feels natural, and the brakes offer a nice balance of good response and smooth operation.
With the Pilot, outward visibility is excellent and the side mirrors are large, so it’s easy to make lane changes with confidence. The blind-spot information system, which also comes with a rear cross-traffic monitor (standard on all but the LX), is also extremely helpful on the highway. It’s easy to maneuver around town, too: between the Pilot’s tight turning radius, rearview camera, and available parking sensors, you can negotiate tight parking lots as if you’re driving a much smaller vehicle. Another nice touch: if you need to tilt down a side mirror to make sure you’ve parked within the lines of a parking space, just slide the left/right mirror switch to the side you want tilted and put the Pilot in Reverse.
When you buy a Honda Pilot, you get a lot of useful features for the money. As you own the Pilot, you’ll enjoy the comfortable ride -- one of many reasons this is a terrific road-trip car -- and the family-friendly attention to detail throughout. You’ll also enjoy the Pilot’s reliability, as reflected in its impressive long-term cost of ownership. And when it’s time to sell, the impressive resale value gives you back more on your initial investment. The Honda Pilot, the Midsize SUV Best Buy of 2019, offers many forms of value from day one, and little to no compromise in the process.
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