2019 Honda Pilot Elite: Refining the SUV Formula with Rugged Looks, More Tech [Review]

2019 Honda Pilot
[Photo: Arv Voss]
The first generation Honda Pilot bowed in 2002 as a 2003 model, and is now in its third generation as of 2015. It joins the smaller CR-V and HR-V models as the brand’s flagship among its SUV models. While it comes from a Japanese brand, Honda designed and developed the Pilot right here in the United States. Honda manufactures the Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama. Over the past twelve years, Honda has sold more than 1.4 million examples.

2019 Honda Pilot
[Photo: Arv Voss]


The 2019 Honda Pilot hits showroom floors with new front and rear styling cues, powertrain refinements and a host of technology upgrades. The new Pilot is available in five basic levels of trim. There’s LX at the low end, EX, EX-L, Touring and the flagship Elite. Nearly all trims are available in either a FWD or AWD configuration, except the Elite, which only comes in AWD. The 2019 Honda Pilot EX-L is available with or without Navigation and Rear Entertainment system, and the Touring models are available with or without Rear Captain’s chairs.

2019 Honda Pilot

Pricing ranges from $31,450 for a 2WD LX to $49,015 for a fully-loaded Elite, including the $995 Destination charge. The Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver assistance and safety technology is now standard fare for all trim levels.

Up front, integrated into the new front bumper are enlarged fog light housings, now available as LEDs. There’s also a redesigned grille which is a reinterpretation of Honda’s “flying wing” design with its chrome trim band extending above the headlights. Out back, are new taillights as well as LED backup lights. In profile, a chrome trim strip runs along the vehicle’s side, wrapping around the rear bumper.

Wheels benefit from a more rugged appearance, with 18-inch designs for LX, EX and EX-L, and a new 20-inch design on Touring and Elite trim models. New features in addition to the revised styling include an available hands-free power tailgate and a new Display Audio touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.


Entering the Pilot’s cabin, updates include new vent surround trim, available 3-way heated front seats and wider fold-down driver and front passenger armrests. Second-row retractable sunshades find their way into EX-L, Touring and Elite trim levels.

A redesigned instrument cluster serves up a larger thin-film transistor (TFT) screen with a variety of user-selectable displays with driver-selectable customizable features, such as audio system information, a detailed trip computer, phone information, and turn-by-turn route guidance on navigation-equipped models. Drivers negotiate the new TFT menu via a new steering wheel with enhanced controls, redesigned for more intuitive operation. Rear seat occupants benefit from an available updated Rear Entertainment System) with a larger screen and new capabilities. Pilot is now also available with a 4G LTE-based Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Rear Entertainment System includes a fun, kid friendly, puppet-themed “How Much Farther?” app. 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.

Now standard on the 2019 Pilot, the Honda Sensing suite includes Collision Mitigation Braking, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control. Honda’s Blind Spot Information System and Rear Cross Traffic Monitor also helps the driver stay keenly aware of their surroundings.

All 2019 Honda Pilot models use the same naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine. [Photo: Honda]


Supplying power to the 2019 Honda Pilot lineup is the same engine as before. All models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine. That engine produces 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Energy is directed to the either the front or to all four wheels via Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management AWD System. Gearing the engine’s motive force to the driving wheels is a six-speed automatic transmission for lower trim levels (LX, EX and EX-L), or a nine-speed automatic with shift-by-wire and steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

The 2019 Honda Pilot Elite was at home on virtually any surface, delivering a surprising level of stability and capability. The horsepower was more than adequate and the torque delivery was smooth over a broad range.

The car’s steering provided positive on-center feel and the overall handling characteristics were sportier than you may expect from a larger SUV. The Pilot’s ride quality was both solid and comfortable with good seating support.

2019 Honda Pilot


Engineers designed the 2019 Honda Pilot to provide a high level of active and passive safety protection. They’re targeting a 5-Star overall score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Apart from its safety features, it’s also capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. Overall, the 2019 Honda Pilot is reasonably priced, attractive, comfortable and quite a capable SUV, both on and off-road.

My test pre-volume production 2019 Honda Pilot was in Elite trim. The final price came out to $49,015 after adding the Destination and Handling charge. The car had no additional options.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Honda Pilot Elite

On Sale: Now
Base MSRP: $48,020
Price as Tested:
Engine: 3.5-liter i-VTEC® V6 with Direct Injection and remote start
Drivetrain (Layout): Transversely-mounted front engine, all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 280 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Suspension: Front: MacPherson Strut with 25.0 mm solid stabilizer bar

Rear: – Multi-Link with 26.5 mm tubular stabilizer bar

Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel discs (vented front)
Tires: Continental CrossContact Cross LX Sport 245/50 R20 102H (Mud & Snow rated)
Fuel capacity: 19.5 gallons
Fuel economy (EPA): 19 City / 26 Highway / 22 Combined mpg


Wheelbase: 111.0 inches
Length: 196.5 inches
Width: 78.6 inches
Height: 70.6 inches
Turning Circle: 39.4 feet
Curb Weight: 4,319 pounds