The 2019 Honda Pilot is updated for this year with a tweaked exterior, interior, automatic transmission, and a whole bundle of latest infotainment technologies.
The 3.5L V6 engine remains the same. It is still rated at 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. The LX and EX model continue to offer the 6-speed automatic transmission with a lever shifter. The higher-end Touring and Elite models are equipped with a retuned 9-speed automatic. The latest 9-speed allows for second gear starts during light throttle acceleration. Full throttle starts are done in first gear for maximum power delivery.
Driving the new Pilot Elite AWD on a two-lane California highway is a smooth experience. The 9-speed operates smoothly under light or hard accelerations. I could not tell whether the transmission was launching in second or first gear, but the experience felt seamless.
The Pilot does not have a “Towing” mode, but it is rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs when equipped with a transmission oil cooler. If your Pilot does not have the additional cooler, the rating drops down to 3,500 lbs. There is an information sticker right next to the hitch on the rear bumper that lists the maximum towing rating for the Pilot. Honda provided an aluminum trailer with a Civic Si race car on top for a total weight of just under 4,000 lbs (according to Honda). That is one cool tailer load to tow.
The rear suspension squatted some, but not excessively under about 400 lbs of trailer tongue weight. There was still enough suspension travel to cushion the rough pavement during my first Pilot towing experience. I was pleasantly surprised how well it handled the trailer. I felt like there was enough power to accelerate and merge with traffic. Honda added an aftermarket trailer brake controller (the Pilot does not come with a built-in unit). There was plenty of stopping power on the downhill, and I was also able to quickly downshift the transmission to maintain a safe and legal downhill speed.
Honda wanted to show off the i-VTM4 all-wheel-drive system in the new Pilot. They built an elaborate off-road course in the dirt with moguls, steep inclines, and a rock garden. The name of the AWD system decodes to Intelligent Variable Traction Management (I-VTM4). There is a center differential that is capable of sending up to 70% of the power to the rear axle. There is an active rear differential that is capable of true torque vectoring, transferring up to 100% of rear torque from one side to the other. The traction management system is able to brake one of the front wheel that does not have traction to send power to the other side. As a result, the Pilot can easily overcome an off-road situation where one or two diagonally opposed wheels are in the air (with zero traction).
If you turn the traction control off, the Pilot will allow you to have some fun and go sideways through a corner.
Please take a look at this review of the latest infotainment technologies available in the new Honda Pilot. The power-sliding, towing and off-road video review is just below.
Join the fun in this first review video of the 2019 Honda Pilot.