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Mid-size SUVs are where it's at if you have to chauffer a growing family around. At the top of the pack for yet another model year is the Honda Pilot. With its excellent fuel economy, spacious interior, and huge list of standard safety and infotainment features, customers are finding no shortage of things to love about the new 2019 Honda Pilot.
But, with five different trim levels to choose from, how are you supposed to know which one is right for you? From the base LX to the line-topping Elite, each trim offers a mix of powerful performance, safety, and comfort. This year, the Honda Sensing Suite comes standard on every trim level, providing drivers with helpful driver aids that enhance the vehicle's safety while driving.
If you have skipped buying a Honda Pilot in the last few years because of the clunky 9-speed automatic transmission, take note that Honda has revised this transmission for its 2019 line-up. Although it cannot best the 6-speed's smooth performance, it comes much closer than ever before. In fact, it makes the higher trim levels worthy of purchase.
Another significant improvement Honda made from last year is the infotainment system. The once-finicky interface now seems much more user-friendly. As far as layouts go, the updated system presents as being quite intuitive and clearly laid out. The physical volume control knob has returned, replacing the extremely touchy volume slider.
Overall, the 2019 Honda Pilot is a well-rounded vehicle that is worthy of being labeled as the best in its class. Selecting a trim level might not be terribly easy though, given the fact that each one has a lot of desirable features and mechanics. To best figure out which trim is the right fit for your needs, let's compare each trim level and what they have to offer.
Compare the 2019 Honda Pilot LX vs EX - What is the difference?
Honda's base trim, the LX, is probably one of the most well-equipped base models that you will find on the market this year. The 2019 Honda Pilot LX is powered by the same 3.5-L V6 engine (which generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque) that comes standard across the line-up. The powertrain is rounded out by a 6-speed automatic transmission that is known for creating a super-smooth ride quality. As is the case for all trim levels save for the Elite, front-wheel drive comes standard while all-wheel drive is optional.
The list of standard features on the LX is chock full of driver aids (such as lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control) that reflect Honda's emphasis on safety. Of course, if you want even more driver aids, upgrading to the EX is a smart idea. The EX adds a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert among its numerous safety features.
Infotainment features are also to be found in abundance on both trim levels. The LX comes with a 7-speaker sound system and 5-inch touchscreen display, but upgrading to the EX gets you the 8-inch touchscreen, the HondaLink system, and smartphone app integration. For these additional features alone, upgrading to the EX is a good idea.
Compare the 2019 Pilot EX vs EX-L Trims. What is the difference?
Of course, if you want a little bit more than what the EX has to offer, there is the EX-L trim. This trim level takes everything that comes equipped on the EX and adds a number of luxury features to the vehicle. The EX's cloth interior gets swapped for leather upholstery, and the steering wheel is also wrapped in leather. The front passenger seat is given power adjustment, and the driver's seat comes with memory settings.
The Home Link Remote System also comes standard on the EX-L trim level and above. This system is wirelessly operated from within the vehicle and has controls for your garage door, home security system, and front gate. It even allows you to turn your home's electronic appliances and lighting off and on while you are away.
As far as the audio system goes, the EX-L offers the same standard features as the EX but makes more add-on options available. If you want a rear seat entertainment system, you have to equip it as an add-on on the EX-L. This system comes with a 10.2-inch screen and Blu-Ray. Also, it has the ability to stream from entertainment apps.
Other add-on features for the EX-L include an HDMI interface, 115-volt power outlet, and Honda's satellite-based navigational system with voice recognition. The voice controls are surprisingly intuitive and constitute a serious improvement over the technology found in the 2018 line-up and before.
Compare the Pilot EX-L vs Touring - What is the difference?
The next step up from the EX-L trim is the Touring. It comes with everything that is equipped on the EX-L and adds more features. One of the biggest differences between the EX-L and the Touring is that you can opt for second-row captain's chairs. Although this takes the number of available seats from eight down to seven, these seats open up a little bit more floor space and are heated.
Other differences between the EX-L and the Touring include the Touring's larger 20-inch wheels, a hands-free lift-gate, parking sensors for the front and rear of the vehicle, and WiFi hot spot connectivity. Also, a number tech features that are available as add-ons on the EX-L come standard on the Touring. This list of features includes Honda's built-in navigational system with voice recognition, the rear seat entertainment system, a second-row HDMI interface, a 10-speaker premium audio system with a subwoofer, multi-zone audio, and Honda Link.
On the exterior, the Touring gets some additional chrome trim, including chrome door handles, which replace the body-colored door handles on the EX and EX-L trims. Acoustic glass, which comes only on the windshield of the EX-L, is used on the windshield and front doors of the Touring. This helps to keep noise from the road, wind, and engine compartment to a bare minimum. Also, roof rails, LED low-beam headlights with an automatic on-off ability, and memory-linked side mirrors with a reverse gear tilt-down capability all come standard on the body of the Touring.
Compare the Pilot Touring vs Elite Trims. What is the difference?
At the top of the 2019 Honda Pilot line-up is the Elite trim. Unlike the Touring, the Elite comes with standard second-row captain's chairs that are heated. It also includes all of the infotainment features found on the Touring but adds a wireless phone charger to the list.
Inside of the Elite's stunningly designed cabin, you will find a lot of upgraded materials. The leather-wrapped steering wheel (which comes standard on the EX-L and Touring) is given a heating function for additional comfort. Another neat feature that you will find inside of the Elite trim are illuminated beverage holders in both the front and second rows. Also, the front seats have both heating and ventilation functions to maximize your comfort during extremely hot or cold weather conditions.
A few things are also different on the exterior of the Elite. While all of the trim levels below it come with variable intermittent windshield wipers, the Elite gets upgraded rain-sensing wipers. Also, the side mirrors are given the additional capabilities of folding and automatically dimming. To top it all off, the Elite is graced with a panoramic roof.
The biggest difference between the Elite and all of the lower trim levels is that all-wheel drive comes standard on this line-topper. All of the other trim levels come with front-wheel drive but leave the option available for all-wheel drive to be equipped. This means that the Elite's intelligent variable torque management AWD system comes with intelligent traction management. This feature allows the vehicle to adapt when it detects that it is encountering snow, mud, or sand.
The only real downside - and it is a minor gripe - to getting the Elite that can be avoided on the Touring is that gas mileage is lessened by the all-wheel drive system. With the standard front-wheel drive equipped, the Touring gets a combined 23 mpg (20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway). However, when you slap the all-wheel drive system onto the 2019 Honda Pilot, this takes its fuel economy down slightly to 22 combined mpg (19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway). Still, for a vehicle in its class, these are pretty good numbers.
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Which One Should You Choose?
Picking a trim from the 2019 Honda Pilot line-up might be a bit easier said than done. All of these vehicles run on the same strong engine, and either transmission option works well as part of the powertrain. All of the trim levels offer an impressive list of features and, of course, place a heavy emphasis on safety.
As far as getting the most bang for your buck goes, either the EX or EX-L are safe bets. While they do not epitomize luxury in the same way the Elite trim does, they provide a nice balance between creature comforts and affordability.
Of course, if you are going to buy any mid-sized SUV's base trim, the well-equipped 2019 Honda Pilot LX is the one to get.
• Compare the 2018 Honda Pilot Trim Levels