Honda's Largest and Smallest Crossovers Go Under the Knife for 2019

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
hondas largest and smallest crossovers go under the knife for 2019

Despite early reviews featured on this site, ones that surely didn’t please Honda PR, the Honda HR-V subcompact crossover is a hit, has always been a hit, and that’s really all that matters to the automaker. American buyers quite enjoy the HR-V, so Honda felt the little ute deserved a mild makeover for the 2019 model year. It isn’t the only Honda-branded crossover to enter 2019 with a new face, however.

The three-row Pilot, always an upright, strong-selling foil to Toyota’s Highlander, sees its own refresh for 2019.

To sum it up, the Pilot now looks more like the Odyssey minivan when viewed from the front, and the HR-V now looks more like the Fit. It’s up to the viewer to determine if that’s a good or bad thing.

The Pilot drops its horizontal grille bars in favor of a tighter, more modern visage. Foglights migrate from the lowest levels of the bumper basement up to the wide, faux mesh-filled side vents, while the lower grille opening is now underscored in shiny plastic. It’s a slightly more aggressive look, and slightly more rugged, as well. The crossover’s flanks remain unchanged, with an upward-sweeping character line breaking up the expanse of sheetmetal.

As for the HR-V, it’s a minor but meaningful change. Like Honda’s stable of passenger cars, the wee crossover adopts a bulky chrome crossbar near the top of its grille, while the lower opening grows in width and, seemingly, depth. The side vents shrink to match the narrow, horizontal LED running lights.

Honda’s keeping many details secret until both models go on sale towards the middle of July, but it did reveal some content changes. The Pilot’s nine-speed automatic transmission, available on upper trims, receives a refinement upgrade, as does the continuously variable unit found in the HR-V. The smaller crossover’s AWD system sees its own unspecified upgrade.

For power, we’re left wondering if there’s any engine changes afoot.

As part of Honda’s effort to shoehorn its Honda Sensing suite of driver assist features into all models, the system is now available on all HR-V trims, and standard in the Pilot. Honda Sensing (which bundles together automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping, and adaptive cruise control) becomes standard kit on EX and higher HR-V trims. Both the Pilot and HR-V open their arms to embrace the return of the volume knob, which joins a new Display Audio touchscreen.

Other Pilot upgrades include available 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, a larger rear-seat entertainment system (with Blu-Ray), CabinTalk PA system, and CabinWatch — a feature you’ll recall from the new-for-2018 Odyssey.

Sales-wise, the existing Pilot’s doing quite well this year, with May volume up 36.1 percent, year over year. Over the first five months of 2018, Pilot sales rose 40.8 percent compared to the same period last year. The HR-V, suddenly finding itself with more competition in the subcompact crossover field, posted an 8 percent year-over-year sales decline in May, with volume over the first five months of the year down 2.3 percent.

We’ll have pricing and powertrain details closer to the vehicles’ launch.

[Images: Honda]

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  • Redapple Redapple on Jun 28, 2018

    Honda makes a nice car. Cant go wrong. I ve had 3. Would have bought a CRV in December but the dealer tried to PUNK me. Toy HON BARU are so good, you d be nuts to buy anything else. Especialy German> They can be good too. But, the cost to buy and service is NUTZ.

  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Jul 02, 2018

    Sadly these are just not worthwhile products -these aren't Hondas. These are bloated and stuffed with worthless items that become snob icons for idiots who don't know how to drive. Oh, how I miss Honda - the one that built svelte and affordable and efficient products that were simple and you didn't have to become a nose in the air driver to appreciate them. Honduh: Our customers are idiots and we know it - they'll buy anything (well, almost everything except our new Honduh Accord Impala).

  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers.