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2019 Honda Pilot Drivers’ Notes Review

On Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

The Honda Pilot three-row crossover was refreshed for 2019 with updated exterior styling and a few tweaks to the interior and tech.

2019 Honda Pilot

The Pilot shares a platform with the upcoming two-row Honda Passport and Ridgeline pickup truck. Our tester is the top-tier Elite trim, meaning it’s loaded with plenty of goodies like leather, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, blind-spot monitoring, LED lighting and an updated infotainment system. All in, this tester came out to $49,015.

Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: The Pilot and the Ridgeline definitely are similar, but I came out preferring the Pilot. The primary reason is that the Pilot felt more engaging because of the handling. It feels lighter, has a bit less body roll, and turns in more eagerly. The ride isn’t as cushy, but considering the Ridgeline’s couch-like feeling, the Pilot’s stiffer tuning still leaves plenty of comfort. And to get something that’s livelier in corners is worth the minor sacrifice to me. I actually didn’t mind the 9-speed automatic that much, but it’s easy enough to opt for the 6-speed unit.

A secondary reason for preferring the Pilot is for the revamped infotainment system, which has more to offer than just the physical volume knob. With crisp graphics and text, fast responses and logical menus, it’s a quantum leap over the ugly, sluggish system in the Ridgeline. I’m shocked Honda hasn’t added the system to the pickup and the Civic.

My complaints are few. The updated styling is OK, but I wouldn’t call it pretty. The 9-speed is fine at best and infuriating at worst. It never seems to be in the right gear when I need some power. That said, the 6-speed is standard on most models and I do appreciate that Honda is still using a naturally-aspirated V6.

Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: Honda went at the Pilot with soft brush strokes for the 2019 mid-cycle refresh. There isn’t anything that’s drastically different from before, but that’s because the Pilot was a competent, competitive three-rower already. It drives and behaves similar to our long-term Honda Ridgeline — these vehicles share underpinnings, and a whole lot more too.

The 2019 Pilot’s new tech — updated infotainment, digital instrument cluster and (gasp!) volume knob — all play together to make the refresh worthwhile on the inside. We had the Elite trim (the most expensive one) but it still felt like a non-luxury Honda inside, despite the tech bells and whistles. This car slants more toward making life easier for a large family than treating a driver to an opulent experience. There’s oodles of usable space, cupholders and outlets galore, and it even inherited the Odyssey’s intercom unit to scold children three rows away.

The Ridgeline has always impressed with how uncannily quiet it is at all times. There’s a lot more open space behind you in the Pilot, and I could hear way too much of it in the form of creaks and rattles. If you’re dead set on buying a big Honda, try them both (those in need of seven seats need not follow this advice). I’d grab the keys to the pickup every time.

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