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If you are in search of a brand new family-oriented vehicle with plenty of space and a strong engine, look no further than the 2019 Honda Pilot. This model year, there have been many exciting improvements made to the Pilot, and the roomy and comfortable interior and top-notch fuel economy keep this third-row SUV at the top of the pack. The one draw-back drivers might notice is that the 9-speed automatic transmission is not as smooth as the standard 6-speed when traveling at slower speeds and unladen with cargo.
What's New for 2019?
The 2019 Honda Pilot has been given a few important updates for the model year. The vehicle has received a few small interior and exterior styling changes. A revamped infotainment touchscreen system makes accessing features easier than before, and several new technological features have been added. One of the most exciting changes is that the Honda Sensing suite (which is composed of helpful advanced safety features) now comes standard on every trim level. Finally, the 9-speed automatic that comes on the upper-level trims has been tweaked to improve issues with low-speed shifting on the 2018 version.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2019 Honda Pilot – The Pros
1. Plenty of Space
Even for a large SUV with third-row seating, the 2019 Pilot has plenty of space throughout the cabin. As is typical of third rows, the space is a little bit cramped for adults. However, children can fit in the third row with ease, which is a feat that some of the Pilot's competitors have yet to accomplish. There is plenty of arm, shoulder, and leg room up front and in the second row of seats. As far as cargo space goes, with the third-row seats upright, there is 16.5 cubic feet available. When you flip those seats down, there is 47 cubic feet. Cargo space can be maximized to 84 cubic feet when the second row of seats is folded down.
In addition to the sufficient amount of cargo space you get, there are plenty of small item storage spaces scattered smartly throughout the cabin. The Pilot's center console is an easy location to organize and stash items needed up front. Honda appears to have put a lot of thought into how they designed the storage spaces, going above and beyond the typical bin, pocket, or cup holder you might find in its competitors. In fact, the cup holders are designed to fit differently-sized cups. Also, there are plenty of places to stash cell phones, tablets, and books.
3. An Impressive Fuel Economy
As is typical of a Honda vehicle, the 2019 Honda Pilot gets some of the best fuel economy in its class. Third-row SUVs are not known for their impressive gas mileage, but the Pilot pulls it off. When front-wheel drive is equipped on the LX, EX, or EX-L trims, they are able to get 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/27 mpg highway). All-wheel drive on those trim levels bumps them down to 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/26 mpg highway). On the Touring and Elite trims (which come with the 9-speed automatic transmission), front-wheel drive will garner 23 combined mpg (20 mpg city/27 mpg highway). All-wheel drive only takes these numbers down slightly to 22 combined mpg (19 mpg city/26 mpg highway).
4. Swift Acceleration
Thanks to the plentiful power that gets generated by the standard 3.5-L V6 engine, the Honda Pilot is able to get from 0 to 60 mph in roughly 6.9 seconds. Most vehicles in this class take exponentially longer to get up to speed and are left in the dust by the Pilot. Even when it is ascending hilly or mountainous roads, the Pilot doesn't struggle to accelerate.
5. Smooth Shifting on the 6-speed Automatic Transmission
The 6-speed automatic transmission that comes equipped on the LX, EX, and EX-L trim levels is more than sufficient at providing a smooth and steady ride. Shifting between gears does not feel awkward or hesitant. Instead, shifting feels effortless and light, and there is no confusion about which gear the transmission is in. Overall, the 6-speed pairs exceedingly well with the 3.5-L V6 engine.
6. A Comfortable Ride
There is no doubt to be had that the interior of the 2019 Honda Pilot is comfortable. The overall ride quality from the V6 and the 6-speed automatic transmission is hard to beat, as neither the driver nor the passengers will feel the transmission shifting between gears. Additionally, the seats are wide and offer plenty of lumbar support; they are also easy to adjust as needed. As far as body roll and bumps go, you will have to take the Pilot on a seriously wild ride over rugged terrain to notice any of it. There is not much wind or road noise to speak of since the interior cabin is well insulated, providing a nice, quiet ride for all of the vehicle's occupants.
7. Excellent Visibility
Visibility can sometimes be an issue in larger SUVs and even in the Honda Odyssey minivan, but this is not the case for the Honda Pilot. Rear and front visibility are clear, and the driver can maneuver the driver's seat with ease to find the best driving position. Since the seat is so upright, the driver will not have a problem seeing out the front or the rear window. The Pilot does come with a standard backup camera that provides the driver with multiple views of what is around the vehicle. Also, there is the option to add front and rear parking sensors as an extra safety precaution. This feature can come in handy if you plan on parking in tight spaces quite frequently.
8. The Updated Infotainment System
In previous years, Honda has struggled with making their infotainment system user-friendly. After some major nips and tucks, the infotainment system finally has an easy-to-use interface laden with controls that are not too touch-sensitive. Almost all of the controls are intuitively placed and make sense to the non-tech savvy driver. The upgraded 8-inch touchscreen display panel presents clear graphics and is placed where the driver and front passenger can easily view it.
9. A Large List of Standard Features
Honda does not skimp on its standard features. The 2019 Honda Pilot is loaded with automatic LED headlights, LED taillights, a standard 7-speaker sound system, and the Honda Sensing suite. Honda Sensing is the manufacturer's bundle of advanced safety features, and it comes standard on every single trim level. Included in this bundle are lane keep assist, frontal collision warning with an automatic braking mechanism, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, and automatic high-beam assist.
10. Ease of Handling
It will be difficult to find a third-row SUV that handles as effortlessly as the Pilot. This SUV feels lighter on its feet than most competitors and can remain stable when put through difficult driving situations. Changing lanes also feels simple in this large SUV.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2019 Honda Pilot – The Cons
1. The 9-speed Automatic Still Lacks the 6-speed's Refinement
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback is the 9-speed's inability to swiftly and fluidly switch between gears. While the 6-speed has this down-pat, the 9-speed seems somewhat hesitant despite being tweaked for the 2019 model year.
2. Some Advanced Safety Features Are Touchy
A few of the advanced safety features on the 2019 Honda Pilot can be touchy. This might not be an issue for some drivers but could be a minor annoyance for others. Honda seems to be overly-cautious with some of these features.
3. The Third-Row Seats
The third row of seating can feel cramped for some adults. While it is more spacious than some competitors, those with long legs will notice the lack of space. Also, trying to pass through the cabin into the third row can be quite the challenge with such limited space.
4. Quality of Materials is Just Average
Material quality isn't awful, but it's pretty average. You will find a lot of soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin that, while they look decent, remind you that you are not driving a luxury vehicle. Still, don't expect too much wear-and-tear from the material.
How it stacks up to the competition:
2019 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander
The Highlander is, without a doubt, the 2019 Honda Pilot's biggest competition this year. The Highlander has a standard 2.7-L 4-cylinder engine that doesn't hold a candle to the Pilot's V6. However, the mid-range V6 on the Highlander has a similar amount of horsepower. Also, the Highlander comes with a hybrid variant for the V6 whereas the Pilot does not. The standard 6-speed on the Highlander is comparable to the Pilot, but the 8-speed seems less problematic than the Pilot's 9-speed.
2019 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Mazda CX-9
The biggest difference between the 2019 Honda Pilot and the CX-9 is that the CX-9's base model is a sport model. It features a larger infotainment screen and is also well-equipped. As far as powertrains go, the CX-9 offers several strong engines, each of which is paired with a smooth 6-speed automatic.
If you are looking for dependability, comfort, and a plethora of standard features, the 2019 Honda Pilot is a strong contender in its class. If you get a model that's equipped with the 6-speed, the ride becomes that much more enjoyable.
• Why buy a 2018 Honda Pilot? w/ pros vs cons