By on August 21, 2018

From 2009-2012, I spent some of the most frustrating days of my life behind the wheel of a Honda Pilot. My good friend Marc and I traveled the entire eastern half of this great nation in a Pilot with a 2008 Honda S2000 Club Racer in tow—literally—as we competed on the SCCA national Solo and Pro Solo circuit. If you haven’t done autocross at the highest level, you don’t know the frustration of having driven 12 hours each way for six minutes of total seat time over two days, only to lose a spot on the podium by less than a tenth of a second. My favorite memory is the time when Marc was so frustrated by the combination of a loss and being lost that he put his fist directly through his windshield-mounted Garmin GPS system.

The point of this opening paragraph is to let you know that I am one of the extremely few people who’ve actually done anything truck-related with a Honda Pilot besides taking it to Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond for a pretty nice little Saturday. The folks at Honda want to change this perception of the Pilot for 2019, and thus I was flown out to SoCal for two days to spend some time getting dirty with Honda’s three-row “light truck” SUV.

(Full disclosure: Honda provided airfare, two nights at a super nice golf resort, and some  pizza served under a heat lamp as well as other food)

Not that Honda needs my help selling Pilots, you understand. They literally sell all that they can make, with days-on-hand supply hovering around 15 days at any given point. If you want a Pilot, you are limited to one or two options at your local dealer. I have a friend who found it nearly impossible to buy a Pilot Elite last year—there simply wasn’t one to be had. For the first time in the company’s history, Honda is on pace to sell more light trucks than passenger cars in 2018.

Nevertheless, if you’ve spent any time around the fine folks from Honda’s PR team, you know that they’re rarely satisfied with anything other than perfection. So for 2019, the Pilot has seen some mild, yet significant changes. Honda Sensing, the wonderful driving assistance package that I enjoyed so much in the Honda Odyssey in my drive from Lexington to Orlando last year (the review on that is coming, like, any day now), is now standard across all trims of Pilot.

They’ve also taken the fantastic, intuitive entertainment system from the Oddy and put it in the Pilot, as well, including the useful CabinTalk system that lets your children watch the Blu-Ray of their choice in the rear while you speak to them through their wireless headphones. Best of all, it has an actual physical volume knob. Additional gizmos like wireless charging and hands-free power liftgates can be had on the Touring and Elite top trim levels.

As I mention in the kickoff, the Pilot has always been a capable workhorse, as well, with significant towing and off-roading capabilities, but the appearance of the last generation of Pilot was always more minivan than truck. Therefore, the 2019 Honda Pilot has been butched the F up, with fewer round edges and more square ones. This first drive was focused largely around those capabilities, with Honda building a rather impressive off-roading course for writers to experience (all with somebody in a blue shirt in the passenger seat, lest a lifestyle “journalist” put the thing on its roof). You can see me taking the whole thing very seriously above.

The verdict is that the Pilot is a capable, if not entirely comfortable, off-roader. Actually, strike that—it’s a bit too comfortable. There’s something a bit bizarre about getting a Honda SUV this dirty, for no other reason than perception. So while the Pilot can go over rocks, plow through snow, and claw through sand with the best of them, thanks to its four drive modes and torque vectoring all-wheel-drive, the Pilot still looks more minivan than Grand Cherokee, no doubt the result of some compromise made in the product-planning department.

So it’s on the road that the Pilot must be most competent. Fortunately, it is. Driving the three-row monster on the curved roads of SoCal is effortless. Handling is much more secure than what you’ll find in the Explorer or Highlander, and the Pilot’s available nine-speed transmission never seems to be in the wrong gear on either ascent or descent. The 280 horsepower provided by Honda’s omnipresent V6 is more than sufficient to motivate the significant bulk of the Pilot—while I wouldn’t call it sporty, it’s capable. Start-stop driving around town is made more pleasant by the fact that the 9AT will start in second gear under light acceleration, which makes for a smoother launch off the line. However, when you need to drop the hammer on some fool at the stoplight, a strong punch of the throttle will still lead to a robust takeoff.

The interior is a pleasant place to spend time, as well. Passenger volume is 152.9 cubic feet, slightly more than the competition from Toyota and Ford, but more to the point, it’s well-organized. There’s no sense that you’ve been confined to the front-left corner of the car, like you are in the Explorer. Visibility is good in all directions from the driver’s chair, which has three-way power adjustability. The aforementioned entertainment system is quite possibly my favorite in any vehicle for sale today—it just works, and the sound quality coming from my Spotify via Apple CarPlay was more than adequately projected by the 10-speaker audio system. Road noise is kept to a minimum, and the cabin feels appropriately isolated from the world around you.

But my true Pilot road test was yet to come.

Of course I had to see if it could tow. While there’s no such thing as a 2019 Honda S2000 (sad sad sad HONDA FIX THIS), they provided me with the next best thing—a trailer with a race-trim Honda Civic Si loaded up. While tow packages are no longer available from the factory on the Pilot, Honda estimates that 10-15 percent of Pilot buyers will opt for the dealer-installed towing package, which is a little bit under a grand all in.

Towing with the Pilot isn’t exactly like it is with something like an F-150—you’re aware that the trailer is back there, at least most of the time. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a capable tow vehicle. In fact, one could make a very good argument that the covered storage capacity and additional passenger space of the Pilot make it superior to any traditional pickup. Pulling the race car and trailer up and down the surrounding hills was a breeze.

Of course, just like all of the competitors in this space, the Pilot isn’t cheap, and Honda isn’t particularly interested in being the cheapest. The best value might be the not-quite Ace of Base special EX, which starts at $35,325, because buyers will still get Honda Sensing, entertainment with CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, and one-touch folding second row. The Elite that I tested? A whopping $49,015. And unlike other OEMs, don’t expect much of a discount here—Honda has the highest transaction price and fewest incentives on their light trucks of any manufacturer.

For my money, I’d buy the Odyssey. I like the transmission better, the passenger space is better, and I even personally find it more attractive. But on Planet Earth, where the SUV is King, the 2019 Honda Pilot is the best option in the segment. You’d be crazy to buy a Highlander, Explorer, or even Grand Cherokee when the Pilot exists.

Of course, you’ve got to find one first. Good luck.

[Images: © 2018 Mark “Bark M.” Baruth/TTAC]

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134 Comments on “2019 Honda Pilot First Drive — A Great Buy That May Be Hard to Come By...”


  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    As much as I’d like to make this my wife’s third Honda in a row, I can’t stomach spending $40,000 plus on a vehicle without a height adjustable passenger seat. What’s your runner-up, Mark

    • 0 avatar

      FLEXXXXXXXXXX

    • 0 avatar

      FLEX

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I wouldn’t pay for this even $35K WITH height adjustable passenger seat

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Honda has lost almost all of the virtues that made it a brand worth a premium, since about 2006.

      They no longer warrant a quality or reliability premium, competitive interior materials, and worse, are going the complex and stupid CVT and turbocharger route on many of their overpriced piles of $hit.

      I geninely believe that Kia and Hyundai are as good, if not better, in terms of ppwertains, quality and reliability as Honda.

      Acura is a dead brand walking.

      The brain dead now buy Hondas reflexively, based on past glory years, and overpay for them, without shopping the competition.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Start the HMC deathwatch?

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Has GM canceled the Buick Walking Dead Division yet? The one composed of leftover products from the Third World and totalitarian states like China?

          “Help a Totalitarian, Buy a Buick.”

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        I recall sitting in an early 2000’s V6 Accord and thinking “wow, I can get all this for this much”. The interior was a step above, powerful and silky smooth, agile. I More recently sat in a 2017 V6 Accord, and almost immediately thought “next please”.

        I suppose never actually owning a Honda in their glory days gives me the ability to look at their products more objectively in more recent times. I think the 2018 Accord is a real looker and will probably give it a try next time I am looking. But this…this nondescript crossover thing. No thanks. It looks like a last gen Kia something or other. I am so turned off by how generic it is I won’t even give it a chance and I know, specced how I would want it, no way I would buy for what they are charging.

        I haven’t written either Honda or Acura off by any means, but the idea that they somehow deserve a premium based on perception or what they used to be, no way. I’ll grab a deal on a competitor that is much more attractive and that is equally reliable for all practical purposes. I agree, anyone paying full MSRP on this hasn’t looked elsewhere. I think Honda relies alot on those folks.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “I suppose never actually owning a Honda in their glory days gives me the ability to look at their products more objectively in more recent times. ”

          On the contrary, those of us that have owned some of the “peak” Hondas have been lamenting their cost-cutting descent into mediocrity for quite some time now. Same thing for Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        Offbeat Oddity

        As someone who’s owned 3 Hondas (and currently owns a 2016 Civic 2.0 CVT), I’d agree with part of this. Based on CR and some forums, it does seem that Honda’s reliability has declined in recent years while Hyundai and Kia’s reliability is creeping closer to Honda’s.

        The Honda CVT seems to have held up very well, so I’m not worried about them, but it’s the 1.5 turbo that worries me. That’s why I picked the 2.0 Civic- no DI or turbocharging, much like the 2.4s I had in my prior cars. I’ve only had the Civic for 1 month, so it’s too early to tell how I’d compare it reliability-wise with my 2007 Accord and 2011 CRV, but so far so good.

        I think Hondas overall- particularly the Civic, CR-V, and Accord-are better vehicles than they were a decade ago in terms of ride, handling, and quietness, and those three vehicles are near or at the top of their class. I still think there are some compelling reasons to buy a Honda- namely that they’re making most of their vehicles more fun-to-drive as Honda’s used to be known for-but I agree that reliability-wise, they need to get their act together. It’s like when they made their vehicles better in 2016/2017, they forgot to maintain the excellent reliability even their most scorned products had- I’m thinking the 2012 Civic here.

        I have hope Honda can improve their reliability in CR, but if not, my next vehicle will likely be a Toyota.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          There is only one reason to buy a Honda today – availability of cheap replacement parts

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Slavuta I was indeed been impressed how reasonable most things were for the ’03 Pilot I was fixing up. Granted Honda is kind of finicky with their own specific formulas for various fluids (VTM-4 fluid, ATF, Power steering), and I did end up using some Moog brand suspension parts and OE-supplier KYB struts, but on the whole they are better than average on OE part prices. The Pilot was also generally fairly easy to work on, excepting pretty tight access to one of the control arm bolts and swaybar bushings iirc. The fluid change on the transmission in particular was an absolute breeze, Honda provided a drain plug and dipstick.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Car ramrod

      Slavuta

      TheGamper

      OffBeat Oddity

      And all others TTACers

      It’s a fact that Mark/Bark Baruth & Jack Baruth are homers and fluffers for Honda vehicles.

      That’s not ad hominem, but an assessment based on the fact that Mark/Bark has an affiliation with HMC apart from “they paid for my flight, lodging and meals” disclosure he included in this review, and based on the fact that Jack has worked for Honda North America in the past (and still does in part, at least in a lowly subcontractor position, I believe, in a place that likely is a cubicle farm as depicted in Office Space), as well as the fact he has a Honda Accord that he often ridiculously, favorably compares to much higher quality, faster, far more prestigious makes.

      These aren’t criticisms of the Baruth Honda & Ford Fanboy club, as much as they are accurate notations of present day realities.

      Don’t ever expect a fair, impartial, honest review of anything Honda by Jack, or anything Honda OR Acura (overpriced garbage with one exception) by Bark/Mark, given their past and present links to the brand and their employers.

      Here’s a reality: Honda is swirling down the toilet bowl, and is a now a cut-rate manufacturer that is resting on past laurels and brand equity, when they actually manufactured outstanding vehicles in their respective segment, and often punched above their weight, having vehicles that favorably compared to much more expensive ones, in terms of quality, reliability, dynamics and durability.

      Honda has almost none of these competitive advantages today, and in fact, is middle of the pack, at best, and has been surpassed in quality, reliability, value, durability and driving dynamics by many competitors, including Hyundai.

      Honda, with its CVTs, fragile convey tional transmissions, turbocharged garbage engines, and cheapened suspensions, along with cheapest-in-industry paint, and Chinese.grade interior materials, is a sad, sad relic and empty, hollow shell of a once proud, excellent company.

      The rot started in about 2006 to 2008, depending on the model for Honda/Acura, and it has been a continuous, tragic cliff dive off K2 ever since.

      Honda needs completely new leadership, engineers and stylists, to be even remotely as competitive as it once was, and Acura…

      …just kill Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        DeadWeight,

        you don’t have to preach to me. If there is one company that does NOT have a car for me to buy – this is Honda. There was QOTD recently, cars to loath. I said – any Honda. Take my 2011 Mazda3 iTouring vs my bro’s ’11 Accord of similar trim. One might think, Mazda3 is more expensive car. From paint to interior, to content. I mean, my car has better controls, materials and holds better over time.

        Honda became dumb-consumer manufacturer. Its like McDonalds burger vs Cheesecake factory burger. To me, Honda also a “dishonest” manufacturer. They withhold necessary features from lower trims to lure you into sunroofs and many-inch wheels, etc. Non of the hondas can be ace of base. A $21K+ Civic Sport Hatch I tested did not even have variable intermittent wipers.

        Today Honda is not the company that produced 1990 Civic 2dr hatch that was $8K and had all around double wishbone independent suspension and the modern engine that sang as you rev it and every curve brought excitement.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Slavuta, I respect the opinions of those who know mechanical systems and the quality/durability thereof, whether in an automobile or aircraft, armored vehicle or watercraft.

          I respect peoples’ opinions such as yours, tresomonos, gtem’s, 28CL, Dan’s, red’s, mikeys, and a bunch of others that would take me a looong time to list completely.

          The truth is that Honda is putting out hot garbage right now. They’ve gutted the things in terms of engines, suspensions, interior details, robustness/solidity (at their respective price point and on a relative basis) that made them either best-in-class or neck and neck with Toyota for best in class mechanical reliability and durability (Toyota was more refined in terms of NVH while Honda was sharper, more dialed-in and sportier make) vehicle maker from approx 1984 to 2004 (again, at the popular price point, but demanding much closer to MSRP along with Toyota, by a wide margin, than competitors) .

          Now, they’re middling, average and anonymous, with no distinguishing attributes.’They’re a puddle that’s melted into a sea of anonymity, and worse yet, they’ve gone in a very un-Honda like direction with clearly unproven DI, turbocharging, CVTs, and other negative-gain/worse reliability systems (total change of traditional Honda philosophy that is crushing Honda’s reliability/durability rankings).

          I had a 2018 Hyundai Sonata rental in Minnesota the last couple of days and can honestly say that.it’s a far more solid, better riding, better screwed together, better thought-out car than lathe new Accord, and with 33,000 miles on the odometer, I would not be the least bit surprised if it were more reliable and durable than the Accord over the long term (the Sonata was tight as a drum even on the worst pavement, without a single squeak, rattle or noise of any kind, with great solidity of chassis and NVH characteristics, with a great transmission . Co,or me impressed, as it made the Accord feel like a wet noodle by contrast).

          It’s really, historically, monumentally sad what has happened to Honda.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Huh. Perhaps much of the auto world finally caught up to what Toyota and Honda drew us in to – fun, reliable cars for a reasonable price. That said, Honda still makes many outstanding vehicles that are class leading.

            This was a good, useful review. I’m still not enamored by the ‘blobbish’ looks similar to the Pathfinder, and not as distinctive as the Highlander, Explorer, Ascent or even Santa Fe.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Sad to say DW, you’re not wrong in this assessment.

            I have a 1996 4Runner and my wife has a 2012 Camry that just kit 79k. The difference in quality is plainly seen anywhere you look. The 4Runner’s interior materials are better, no rattles after 150k miles, the paint has absolutely minimal stone chipping after 22 years. The 4Runner doesn’t burn any appreciable amount of high mileage 5w-30 between 5k changes. My old ‘96 ES300 Lexus had the same level of high quality everywhere you looked (or didn’t look, that was key). That car likewise did not use any oil with 209k miles, the transmission shifted smoother than just about any modern automatic I’ve been in. It also had all of its original balljoints and control arm bushings in good and tight condition without even any signs of dry-rot style cracking in any of the rubber. Our 2012 Camry is definitely much more cost-optimized. Thin fragile paint, many stone chips hit right through the e-coat and start to rust and I have to stay on top of touch-ups. It has a minor dash rattle over bad roads, cheap and nasty interior trim, some of which has now gotten sticky as the plasticizer(?) leeches out of the plastic. The engine uses about a quart of 0W-20 over the course of a 7500 mile interval, and has what sounds like a minor case of rod knock (but probably just the camchain tensioner mechanism) when it’s low on the dipstick. The vertical control arm bushings are showing some signs of small hairline cracks (but still perfectly functional at this point thankfully).

            I’m honestly looking forward to trading it in, I have zero emotional attachment to that car.

            I totally get that the market demand for $20k midsizers in 2018 US dollars has driven us here, combined with Japan ceasing to devalue their currency at some point in the 80s after which it shot up tremendously relative to the dollar. But even Lexus has soft crappy paint these days, and their interiors are not what they were.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Dead, gets a greatful +1000

      • 0 avatar
        pmirp1

        Deadweight, Your commentary is getting awful personal. If you have an agenda take it some place else.

        Comparing Honda to Hyundai is a joke. Hyundai sell for thousands less than sticker. Hondas, you’ll be lucky to get 3-4k off. Do you really think it is all reputation? Hyundai replaces entire engines on Sonatas. Entire suspensions. Their dealerships are at the same low level quality as a Chevy. Perhaps slightly better than a Chrysler dealer, and their sales practices are a joke.

        Have you even sat in the new Pilot? The materials are tops. I personally don’t like the looks, but from a material and fit and finish perspective it is great.

        You constantly complain about GM made in China, yet here is a manufacturer that builds in America and you still complain. Get a grip. Sit in these Honda products that virtually everyone has given good reviews to and sell in large numbers, then talk logically not as though you have an agenda. It is getting very tiring.

        • 0 avatar
          tsoden

          Having owned 2 GM’s, 3 Toyota’s, and 3 Hyundai’s, I feel I have enough credentials to respond to this. You sir, have no idea what you are talking about.

          First and foremost… Hyundai has made tremendous strides in quality, reliability, and value since coming to North America in the 80’s. What took GM over 100 years to do, Hyundai has managed accomplish much more in under 40 years… UNDER 40 YEARS!!!!

          Engine replacements? Yes, there is a TSB for a SMALL NUMBER of vehicles that could have metal filings in the engine. BUT, this is what RECALLS are for. The fact that Hyundai is owning up to this issue and REPLACING AT THEIR COST speaks volumes. All manufacturers have issues…

          You talk about entire suspension replacements? Well what about Honda’s that literally chew through brake pads? My neighbor has a number of CR-v’s over the past 18 years I have known him.. and he is NOT happy with Honda brakes – Honda is not taking any responsibility for OEM pads that are literally crumbing during usage within 20000 KM A break job should NOT be required with such low milage.

          Dealerships at the same quality at Chevy??? Do you live in the projects or something? The dealership experience is often the responsibility of the owner – not the manufacturer. I have had amazing service from where I bought my car’s. I do know of a couple dealers I will not set foot into, but my reason is not brand specific. My reason is due to policies set by the owner of franchise…. in which case that owner may own a Subaru, Mazda and Hyundai, which could operate the same way and NOT provide a good experience fro the customer.

          Oh, and speaking of current models, do tell me when is the last time you set foot in an upper end Hyundai, Kia, or even Genesis?

          The folks here are correct. Honda has fallen down and needs serious help. Styling is slowly improving, reputation is declining along with quality and value. Toyota went through this too in the mid 2000’s and they are working hard to get back to where they once were.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    What is with Honduh building remakes of worthless Chevrolets – this is a Chevrolet Traverse and then there is the new Accord which really is a Honduh Impala.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    I am just trash and don’t deserve to comment any more. So I won’t be.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Pilot still looks more minivan than Grand Cherokee”

    Looks like or *is* a minivan?

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    The 12 through 15 Pilots were great looking vehicles. The base LX with the steel wheels was rugged looking. And, they run great. I have a black 14 LX.

    Then came the 16 Pilot, which looks like the 19 Pilot. It looks like a giant CrV. Of course, a man would rather be caught carrying his wife’s purse than driving a CrV. So, no new Pilot for me. I am hanging onto my 14 Pilot for a little longer. What will I replace it with? Don’t know. Perhaps the VW Atlas?

    What was Honda thinking?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’d argue that the ’16+ is a return to the styling themes of the gen 1 Pilot, which was an overgrown gen 2 CRV from the front. I do like how upright the rear glass was and the priceless addition of a separately opening tailgate glass (just like a “real” SUV!) What I don’t like on the ’16+ Pilots is the busy front end, how many “layers” of bumpers/grills/lips can you have? To say nothing of the crappy approach angle (flies in the face of the “no really, it’s a real offroader” claim).

      • 0 avatar
        Carrera

        I like the 1St generation best. Actually the 2006-2008. The one that followed I hated with passion. Looked like a Chrysler/Jeep faux SUV. The newest one has cooler lights . The 9 speed is getting bad reviews in CR and anywhere else. They say stick with 6 speed. My 2006 with the “glass transmission” and dreaded VCM has 185,000 with oil changes and 2 timing belts.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Bingo! I thought the 06-08 were perfect. The next gen got a little Tonka-toy for me. This one is too….non-descript.

          But of course I’ve never been know for my sense fo style…

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          My ’03 had 181k when I sold it, the transmission only had intermittent fluid servicing and the VTM-4 fluid had not been done in years. I changed both fluids when I bought it, the rear axle unit went from making funny noises on sharp accelerating turns to being dead silent, the transmission showed no signs of ill-health thankfully. Mine had the “bandaid” factory fix of an extra ATF squirter onto one of the planetaries (?) routed through the dip stick hole, same thing they implemented on 2nd gen Odysseys to try and help the transmission issues on those cars. Whatever the case the transmission seemed fine on my ’03. Engine was using some oil, not a whole lot but some, I needed to top it up with half a quart over the course of a 5k interval iirc. Anecdotal internet evidence suggests the Pilots generally have fewer transmission issues out of the 5spd than the Odysseys by a long shot.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      A friend has a boxy “12 through 15” Pilot and I like the exterior a bit better than this. That interior, though. My god the plastics and touch points on hers are just awful. Almost everything is hard plastic and it isn’t the passable kind with nice-looking graining. This new one looks miles ahead. It would be enough to sell me on the new one even if it does look like a CR-V.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        30-mile fetch, At first, I hated the plastics. But, after a while, I changed my mind. The hard plastic gives it a tough look on the inside. I have grown to like it. But, you have to be careful not to scratch it. Some of that scratch plastic is scratch happy.

        If only the exterior styling of the 19 was more like the 12 to 15, while the interior styling of the 19 was more like the 19 … that would be a hit for me.

  • avatar
    kam327

    I disagree this thing handles better than an Explorer. I test drove both before buying the Explorer and was immediately put off on the Pilot test drive with how it teetered around corners. Very soft suspension, as commented on by at least 1 other reviewer of the 2019 Pilot today. The Explorer IMHO handles at least as well if not better than the Pilot, which is impressive given the current gen Explorer was released in 2011.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I thought about a Honda Prelude around 1985 and couldn’t get a test drive because they were so popular. Dealer was kind of rude and I never bothered with Honda again. Sort of anyways, until 2014 when I got my TSX Sportwagon, which was not very popular.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGrieves

      That’s amazing because in 2018 Honda dealers are still rude. Only now they ignore you *after* the test drive.

      • 0 avatar

        Serious comment: which dealers aren’t rude?

        • 0 avatar
          PandaBear

          Hertz used car lot.

        • 0 avatar
          Pete Zaitcev

          Lexus seems okay, although of course it depends. And they lie and deceive like any other dealer, just politely.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          Subaru dealers overall are not rude. Puppies and Love.
          BMW dealers just hand me the keys and say have a good time on a test drive. Extremely laid-back from my experience.
          Ford, Dodgee, GM, Mazda, and especially Toyota on the other hand always have the rudest salesmonkeys and service departments.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Bark – Here in the Houston area I’ve patched together a little network of 10-11 dealers that are fair all around the board. I refer probably 30 or so folks to them each year. The family-owned dealerships are the usually the best.

          But you are right – it’s really hard with all the schmuck dealers out there.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Our local FCA dealer is decent enough, believe it or not.

          The local Nissan dealer is either incredibly incompetent or lies through his teeth. It was so bad we had to contact Nissan NA to resolve the warranty issue.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        I test drove a CRV last December at a dealer that sold me 2 EX V6 Accords.
        The salesman wasnt a dick. But he was not warn, interested and had the air of a guy who wasnt interested in my deal now today. Because he knew he d get this one, or the next or the next. Price was take it or leave it if I can find one in stock.

        So, I bought a Forester. My first Subaru instead of my 5th Honda. Couldnt be happier.

        • 0 avatar
          Carrera

          A lot of new car dealers are like that. Very non-chalant almost bored attitude…like they are all selling Audi S4 with 8 cylinders and a manual transmission and there’s only two in the State. Like they are doing me a favor just for talking to me.
          And yes, I remember the late 90s Audi S4 with small V8 and manual..what a rocket.
          I am pretty sure it had a V8…well I am in my early 40s, my mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Carrera the late 90s would have been a B5 S4, that had the biturbo 2.7L V6. I believe it was the B6 (early-mid 2000s) S4 that got the 4.2L V8. A guy at work used to drive a B7 S4 Avant with the 4.2L and some sort of aftermarket exhaust, man that thing sounded mean.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I’ve gone in a few times to look at an Accord LX, but they always bring around the Touring, or Sport, or whatever is just below the EX and give me dirty looks when I ask for an LX.

        This last time I marched over to my local Mazda dealer and couldn’t be happier. I liked my 03 and 95 Accords, but not enough to overpay because they’re not interested in selling a lower trim level.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I have been unable to convince my wife that we do not need a 3 row vehicle. I think the Pilot hit every ugly tree on the way down, the Atlas is awfully plastic inside, even though it drives great and has great tech fully loaded, and minivans are minivans – the most efficient use of space in wrappers that tell the world ugly is how you roll.

    The only 3 rower I’ve ever been in that I didn’t hate was the GL550, but that swills gas at an alarming rate.

    Any successful stories of married folk persuading your significant other that a 3 rower isn’t necessary?

    Please. I need help.

    • 0 avatar
      JayDub

      jkross22 – see my comments section remarks from the recent Sienna AWD article. I know you said no 3 row vehicle. Curious if you mean all 3 row vehicles, or just SUV’s.

      That stated, lately I’ve been watching reviews on the new 2019 Pilot, the VW Atlas, Subaru Ascent, and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

      It would be nice to find ONE vehicle that does it all…relatively fuel efficient, parent duty-worthy, off road-worthy, decent looking, and affordable.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      jkross try out a Pacifica. I seriously enjoyed my rental, felt head and shoulders above previous van experiences in terms of how it felt to drive and the interior/exterior design.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Thanks gtem and JayDub, we drove the Atlas this last weekend. I liked it because it drove well for a hulking vehicle and because that top line instrument panel is just so cool. I thought our ownership of an older version of iDrive ruined my interest/appreciation for car tech, but VW nailed that IP. Really cool. She thought the Atlas drove like a truck and subsequently took it off the list for now.

        We’re going to drive the Pacifica soon, but to paraphrase my wife, “I just have to get used to the idea of driving something that sort of sucks to drive.” and “My mom had a Chrysler minivan”… meaning she doesn’t want one. We’ve rented the old T&Cs before and while they’re really practical they drove like crap.

        I’m going to try to get her to drive the Durango R/T… hoping that might be more engaging to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I test drove a Durango R/T recently (back to back with an Armada). It’s definitely a raucous sporty feeling car/suv thing compared to the soft luxurious Armada, but felt rather tight in the interior. The one I drove had nasty cheap CarMax grade new tires on it that further soured my impression.

          I vastly preferred the Pacifica rental I had to the Durango in the sense of it being a more serene but still highly satisfying driving experience, with a ton more interior room.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      I was in the same situation. I bought a 2005 Honda Odyssey Touring because I couldn’t stomach $40k+++ on a vehicle whose only purpose was to have a third row.

      $2500 and about $500 in parts for a bunch of minor issues and deferred maintenance from the prior owner, and she loves it. Drives it every day instead of her 2016 Silverado. Somehow, she has been able to live without Apple CarPlay. The horror!

      Seriously – used minivans have ZERO resale value right now. They are great buys. We both like how the 3rd gen Ody looks better than any of the newer vans.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      A three row does have good cargo space with the third row down, or better yet deleted.

      A sedan is better in almost every way than a CUV so get her in a few sedans to try out while they are available and cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      iMatt

      I think a 3 row vehicle is more of a status symbol than anything else these days. Just bought a leftover 2017 Touareg with my s/o.

      In her case, I had to make the arguement that it wasn’t too big a vehicle. The opposite may work for you!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @iMatt

        ding ding…

        That’s why Lexus finally gave in and decided to offer the RX with a 3rd row. I doubt many owners will use it on a regular basis. (Coming from the guy with a 3 row 2nd gen Highlander.)

        The cargo areas are nice with the 3rd row folded and at this point I’ve realized that if I buy a three row SUV/CUV for my next purchase it will be for the same reason I love the old B-body wagons. NOT for the 3rd row, but for the versatile cargo area.

    • 0 avatar
      TimK

      I have a “3-row” Hyundai Santa Fe. After ten years, the third row of seats has been used a grand total of one time. It’s a place for tiny children and Cirque du Soleil contortionists.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Can the Ody tow?

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Yeah, if you get a hitch installed.

    • 0 avatar
      ChevyIIfan

      Yes, but not much (legally at least). The payload capacity just isn’t there, especially if carrying anyone with you. If driving solo you will have some margin for hitch weight, but if carrying your family your free payload will be around 200 lbs max, which gives you a rough trailer weight of maybe 1500 lbs (15% tongue weight= 225 lbs) before you will exceed the van’s GVWR and thus be illegal. Many still do it anyway though.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    A review from the same event just landed on Jalopnik as well. Same one-wheel-in-the-air and Civic-towing photos. I miss the brutally honest rental reviews.

    Looks like a great CUV and it would be hard to find a better engine. Although, other reviews have noted that it wallows and feels disconnected, and has poor brake and steering feel, so it ain’t exactly the Civic R of the class.

    “The verdict is that the Pilot is a capable, if not entirely comfortable, off-roader.”

    This isn’t a credible assessment when made after driving on a course set up by the manufacturer. It isn’t a coincidence the Pilot did well there. The modest clearance, angles, and thin sidewalls suggest this won’t extend far into the real world even if the traction control system is ironed out well. Put an inconveniently located rock under the front axle in that picture and the result would be different.

    • 0 avatar

      Gee, it’s almost like Andrew and I were at the same event. Not exactly the same pics, though—I used my iPhone 7 Plus to take mine.

      And with all due respect to your assessment of why the Pilot performed well, it’s not exactly accurate. I’ve been to several OEM events where their cars got immovably stuck on their off-road courses. I even did it myself once in an AWD wagon video that might be on YouTube somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Well, consider that if a manufacturer led an auto journalist around a racetrack of their choosing in something like the sport trim of a subcompact crossover and he subsequently claimed it was a “capable trackday car”, you might raise your eyebrows.

        Looks like Car and Driver was at the event as well, and despite the long-standing disdain for auto magazines from the TTAC sector, they managed to sound far more like TTAC in their review. Well, TTAC of 3 or so years ago; those days are gone. Perhaps your review in which literally nothing negative was said really is a return to the unvarnished truth and this vehicle is flawless as described, but we’ve all seen you take autojournos to task for writing stuff this complimentary after being flown and lodged at manufacturer expense.

        • 0 avatar

          Hilarious. I’ve been so negative about so many cars in the past that if I say something positive, it must be because I’m ON BIG HONDA’S PAYROLLLL. Never mind the whole thing where I said I’d rather have an Odyssey.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I never accused you of being on a payroll. I just pointed out the irony of writing as if you were.

            But nevermind, you’re you and that’s more than enough to be immune from criticism.

            BTW, recommending a vehicle by the same manufacturer because it’s even more better than the one you just gave a 100% positive review of is a poor way of refuting a payroll accusation.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You can’t keep everyone happy.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            I won’t say anyone is on Honda’s payroll, but I recall the audience turning on a Kool Aide inspired Tim Cain review of the Odyssey not so long ago. I haven’t been in the new pilot and probably won’t, and I’m not nearly as well travelled as you guys when it comes to driving experience. But I do test drive many cars when I’m shopping, give most realistic competitors a chance to earn my business….and sometimes when you read a review, it’s hard to believe that I drove the same car that is the subject of said review. Just sayin.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Mark Bark Baruth has an ongoing relationship with Honda/Acura and is a fluffer for them.

          This Pilot is MEH at best, like a fat, wallowy Buick or Chevy CUV thing of some kine, but Mark Bark Baruth is stretching to make it sound far better than it is in reality.

          ALL PART OF THE PIGGY AT THE TROUGH, CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST, AUTOJOUROSAURIST PLAYBOOK, YO.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I also got the sneaking suspicion that Bark was a little too nice and positive about the whole thing. To be fair on the Honda-groomed offroading segment, I’ve seen some more “real world” testing by TFLcar in Colorado on some trails where the Pilot did indeed make the most of its AWD system to go where other crossovers had failed (most recently a Ford Ecosport fell flat on its face just halfway through the challenge).

      • 0 avatar

        “Nice” and “Positive” aren’t words that are typically thrown around when describing me. I think I’ve more than earned my stripes over the last six years of reviewing cars here. If I say something is good, it’s because I think it’s good. If I say something is terrible, it’s because I think it’s terrible. Period.

        I travel for a living 45 weeks a year. I give exactly zero you-know-whats about junkets—I travel better on my own nickel. If Honda or any other OEM never invited me on another single junket, I’d be JUST FINE. I turn down far, far more press trips than I take in the course of a given year. This one lined up with a week where I wasn’t traveling for my day gig, so I took it.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “Nice” and “Positive” aren’t words that are typically thrown around when describing me.

          Yes, that has been clear over the stripe-earning six years. You’ve also put yourself on a pedestal in which no one can criticize your writing even mildly without this type of aggressive overreaction.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            30-mile, but you (rather politely) questioned the guy’s impartiality. Nothing gets a writer’s back up quicker. Just sayin’.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I think 30-mile and I are picking up on phrases like this:

            “As I mention in the kickoff, the Pilot has always been a capable workhorse, as well, with significant towing and off-roading capabilities”

            Generic and mild positive fluff. “Significant” towing and offroading ability relative to what? FWD based crossovers?

            It might just be a tone/style thing, when we hear about rentals and acquaintances’ cars there’s an entirely different tone to the writing.

            I’m not building some sort of conspiracy theory or accusing Mark of being any kind of Honda puppet. Just that reading this piece compared to his usual work is jarring in how different the style is.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Mike, as you know I can be a grouchy twerp at times. So the polite part was very deliberate.

            I didn’t accuse him of being on the take. But Mark’s review criticized nothing about the vehicle and was nearly effusive in tone. He also made an absolute but specious claim on its off road performance. I don’t think it is unreasonable to bring those two points up considering this site and author have been less than polite in criticizing this type of thing from other outlets.

            It would have been easy to simply reply that despite his efforts to find otherwise, the Pilot really is a fault free entrant in this class from his perspective and it’s rare that he can be so positive about a vehicle. And yes, though not a true off-roader, it was surprisingly good for a CUV.

            Instead, it was this stubborn disdain for any criticism. Dig in, don’t give an inch to this random internet idiot! And nothing gets a reader’s back up quicker :)

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            ..rough crowd.

            Is the 9-speed transmission still wonky?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            “without this type of aggressive overreaction.”

            Oh, you mean like an aggressive overreaction to a mostly positive review of a mostly positive vehicle? Like that?

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            100% =/= “mostly”, John. If you’re having reading comprehension problems you can scroll up and try again.

            I’m guessing you saw the comment on the Ranger thread.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Another meh vehicle. I’m sure it is fine all around, but read this and the Acadia article from the other day, both extremely comptetent and that’s it. No passion anywhere.

    I agree with other posters the last gen actually looked somewhat manly vs this blob of a minivan with rounded edges. Add the Ridgeline as well. I love the concept of the Ridgeline but it too looks like a van!

    Personally would never buy this over a Grand Cherokee (OK no 7 seats but was mentioned in article) At least that car looks great, and can actually manage a real off road course. Guarantee it tows that civic better too. You know, a real utility vehicle. I find it hilarious manufacturers try to push the off road ability of their minivans.

    Or get a Wrangler or 4runner.

    Getting tired of these supposed to be the cooler choice by trying to push them as utility vehicles when they’re not. Minivans aren’t cool but at least they’re honest. I feel the same about sedans with coupe rooflines….youre a sedan for moving people in comfort and efficiently. Quit trying to pretend you’re a sports coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      This, this is not an SUV, you can scream SUV from every roof but it will still never be an SUV. It’s a crossover, which is synonymous with a 4 door minivan. Biggest difference is you don’t look like a loser in the minivan because it’s goal is clear whereas the crossover is pretending to be anything but a minivan. But it’s still a less useful minivan that looks more frumpy.

  • avatar
    a5ehren

    Like you said, it’s kinda hard to justify this from a value perspective when you can get an Odyssey off the same lot for 10+% off MSRP without trying *that* hard (I’m a weak negotiator and got ~12%). If you really bust em you can probably get 15%.

    In the end, I paid less for a 19 Ody EX-L than what a Pilot EX stickers for, and you probably aren’t getting much (if any) discount on those.

    I guess if you really *need* AWD?

  • avatar
    ernest

    Maybe just a personal preference, but when I see $50K in this segment, I see a Durango R/T.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    ” he put his fist directly through his windshield-mounted Garmin GPS system.”

    Man-up. Break the windshield!

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Current minivans have such huge footprints–an Odyssey and an Expedition take up almost exactly the same amount of pavement–that crossovers can be tempting just because they are available in smaller sizes. But when they are as big as minivans, I’ll take the minivan.

    For the record, my three-ton LX 570 is seven inches shorter and over two inches narrower than a 2018 Odyssey.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    I haven’t seen a review of a single 2018 or 19 Honda that has anything nice to say about the push button gear selector. The engine and transmission may be the best in the business, but if you have to look down to change gears, it’s never coming to live in my driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      One of my favorite features of my ’03 Pilot EX-L was the traditional style column shifter. Doesn’t take up space, easy to use. I find them oddly satisfying to use as well.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    262 lb/ft of torque at 4700 rpm, vehicle weight of around 4,300 lbs and I’m going to tow up to 5,000 lbs. with it?

    I’m sorry – no. The 3.5T Explorer with (an underrated) 350 lb/ft. at under 2k rpm is a superior choice for towing.

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    When one of youz guyz is between integrity-wounding junkets could you fix the sign-in?

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    I’m torn.

    As an owner of a Gen 1 (’04), I’m a true believer in the overall abilities of the Pilot – especially the reliability, utility, and extremely low cost of ownership over 140K miles. I drive it hard everyday, and it simply refuses to break. What I like most, is that I can slide sheets of plywood or drywall into the cargo area. That feature allowed me to rid myself of a trailer. My wife and I bought a ’17 Grand Cherokee, which we love. It’s been a solid vehicle thus far, and the Pentastar offers plenty of smooth power for our needs.

    The Gen 2 Pilot didn’t really appeal to me. Mostly, I wasn’t in the market for a replacement during those years, but while I could get past the boxy exterior, the interior was searingly ugly.

    The latest generation has been a letdown for opposite reasons. The interior is great, but the exterior just hurts to look at. Say what you want about minivan-looks, but I actually like the Odyssey’s design, and I’d consider one if it had AWD. We live at elevation where snow can be a major factor in the winter.

    The Durango really appeals to me from a value standpoint. I like the exterior, can live with the interior, but cargo area is the same width as our JGC (shared platform), and I’m just not interested in a Yukon/Expedition-class truck, or a pickup.

    I test-drove a 2017 Pilot and just couldn’t get past the exterior. Maybe I just need to drive the ’19 and take it more seriously.

    Open for suggestions…

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The Toyota Sienna is available in AWD configurations. Personally I would go with the Durango R/T Hemi, but I do agree on the cargo space limitations. Yes, this generation of the Pilot is terribly ugly albeit useful.

  • avatar
    V16

    In day to day driving, a gravel parking lot will be the limit as to off road travel in a Honda Pilot.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    $50K is Tahoe money, would you really want this over a Tahoe?

  • avatar
    ajla

    “So while the Pilot can go over rocks, plow through snow, and claw through sand with the best of them”

    What is “the best of them” referring to?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Good question Honda’s automatic 4WD system is not noted for it’s excellence, although I hear it’s a better system in the Pilot then the CR-V, but what exactly are we comparing the AWD system in the Pilot to?

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        look at Alex on Autos he put up a review in the last 24 hours.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Can’t offer any experience with this generation Pilot, but I will say that the 1st generation Pilot’s slip-and-grip AWD system (i’ve owned an ’08 since new) is far inferior in my experience to the viscous coupling AWD system on my ’96 Previa. I’m talking about use in deep snow with true snow tires at all 4 corners. Only if you engage the “VTVM-4 lock” is the Pilot system at all effective, and that can only be engaged from a full stop and with 1st gear only. The Previa system was transparent in operation and did not need to be “engaged.”

        The Previa was a longitudinal-engine, basically RWD vehicle. I’m guessing that the transverse/FWD layout of the Pilot doesn’t have room for such a system.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Compared to a Flex, he is probably correct. Or any other Minivan disguised as a SUV.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    TTAC sure has gushy reviews these days… that, or “reviews” that read more like a press release.

    Still better than slogging through 3000 words of unedited circle-jerk millennial look-at-me drivel for the same type of content on Jalopnik.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I read that Honda was considering making a Pilot with only two row seating and powered by a turbo 4, in place of the V-6. Any further word on that??

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “If you haven’t done autocross at the highest level, you don’t know the frustration of having driven 12 hours each way for six minutes of total seat time over two days…”

    This is why I run ChampCar. At least there it takes five hours behind the wheel to rack up a frustrating loss!

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Alex on Autos seems to agree on his recent 22 hour old Pilot review (altho not a complete review).

    Alex shows the new Pilot has the Torque Vectoring SHAWD from Acura w/ the ability to transfer more than 50% of the power to the rear and side to side and w/ locking rear clutch packs is a superior system and shows how well it works.

    Has GM canceled the Buick Walking Dead Division yet? The one composed of leftover products from the Third World and totalitarian states like China?

    “Help a Totalitarian, Buy a Buick.”

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Wow.
    Kinda tough crowd here, leaning on nasty.

    Its one thing to bitch about the depth of the review, but another to hit on the reviewer just cause.

    IMO, the Pilot might not be the off-roader it can be with its hardware, but it’s nice having that active system in everyday driving, both weather-related and cornering.
    The system is like that of the SH-AWD that makes it such a great system.
    Its why there is AWD, unlike the slow to react and inability to transfer wheel to wheel when needed on most cars, it really helps in real life driving.

    Personally, I would rather have a Pacifica, but because of the angle of approach into my driveway and the valley created by a garage drain grate, the ride height needs to be SUVish.
    And, again, that full time active vectoring AWD is special.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    p.s – Awesome pics of the interior, awesome reporting regarding on-road ride quality, great details about NVH, interior material and trim and switchgear quality, fuel economy, steering feel, on-road handling and braking, interior noise, seat comfort, cargo space infotainment system, etc., etc.

    REALLY GREAT REVIEW OF A CUV THAT WILL BE DRJVEN 99.9% ON ASLHAKT AND CONCRETE SURFACE ROADS TO WORK, SCHOOL, SHOPPING/RESTAURANTS, AND THE USUAL GRIND!

    VERY INFORMATIVE REVIEW!!!

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Honda pricing has crept up into 4Runner territory. Which means you can get a true RWD/SUV with better tow/haul capability for the same coin. Use cases may vary, but I can’t see picking a Pilot over a 4Runner under any scenario for me.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Both Pilot and Ridgeline swung too far toward rounded, innocuous, Mommyvan styling; it’s why the Highlander is FAR ahead in sales. Pathfinder’s jellybean look has caused a serious sales slump, too.

    • 0 avatar
      TimK

      Look around, the typical buyer these days is a “rounded” pillow pack. Rounded, stretchy-simple, one-size-fits-all is what sells. Honda’s marketing team is selling these folks the car they imagine they need, and the production team is building a vehicle they actually want and are willing to pay for.

  • avatar
    Prado

    ‘Off road’ tests of CUVs like this are just silly. They are trying so hard to convince people that they are not just a minivan, yet pictures like the ones Mark took, just make me cringe. My god, look at that lack of articulation! That’s some pretty expensive damage when that rear comes crashing down.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Way back , we owned a gen 1 MDX, without any issues,and traded it in on an Enclave after 6yrs of trouble free ownership, not that we really needed a new car or more spacious car, but I was enamored with a larger 3rd row and had more than my share of guilt over the recession of 08/09.
    It wasn’t a bad experience but 14-15mpg and the goofy trans. tuning made it easy to transition into a Sienna ,especially when dealers were begging us for the business amidst the suddent accelerating Lexus fiasco at the time in 2011.
    Honestly that Gen 1 was one of the best family haulers we’ve owned. My brother bought a used Gen 1 Pilot with 160k miles on it for the sole purpose of being the mountain vehicle for family ski trips (they live in Denver). To date its over 215k miles without any major issues.
    I sat in one and test drove the current MDX recently and have to admit that the Korean marks aren’t really that far off. I rode in a taxi Hyundai Sonata,that had 200k miles on it in Montreal, that was pretty tight sounding given its current existence.

  • avatar
    deanst

    “And unlike other OEMs, don’t expect much of a discount here—Honda has the highest transaction price and fewest incentives on their light trucks of any manufacturer.”

    Honda is offering $4,000 discounts in Canada on Pilots.

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