The Honda Pilot three-row midsize SUV had a fairly impressive year in 2018. Not only did it boost sales by more than 25 percent during that time, but it also set an all-time annual record for deliveries. Despite those successes, however, it still trailed its key rivals by significant amounts. The Ford Explorer outsold the Pilot by more than 100,000 units in 2018, and the Toyota Highlander outpaced it by about 85,000 sales. The Pilot faces new competition from the Subaru Ascent and the Volkswagen Atlas, too.
With that in mind, the 2019 Honda Pilot has been significantly refreshed with new equipment that makes it more competitive than ever.
Honda Sensing Is Now Standard
As midsize SUVs have become increasingly popular for families, they’ve also become better suited to a family’s needs. For example, the latest models offer a sharp focus on safety with many advanced driver-assistance technologies. However, the 2019 Honda Pilot doesn’t just “offer” those features. It provides them as standard equipment.
Along with a multi-angle rearview camera, all Pilot trim levels now come with the Honda Sensing bundle. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic forward emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keeping assistance and road departure mitigation. The last technology is an enhancement of the Pilot’s lane keeping system. It’s specifically engineered to warn you if you’re drifting out of your lane onto the shoulder of the road.
The standard Honda Sensing package also creates a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The 2019 Pilot has a lower MSRP with those features than many of its competitors does without them.
Mobile Wi-Fi Makes Its Debut
Of course, if you ask the kids in your family which is more important, fancy safety features or a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, they’ll probably pick the latter. So the Honda Pilot also supplies 4G LTE connectivity as an option in the Touring and Elite trim levels. You get a complimentary 90-day/3 GB data package through AT&T when the vehicle is new, and the system requires a data plan from the same company after that.
Per Honda, because the technology has “a better antenna than in typical smartphones, the system often offers superior reception.” This lets up to seven devices go online at the same time while also providing new functionality for the Pilot’s available rear-seat entertainment system. Beginning with the 2019 model year, the setup can stream video from a select number of “smart TV” channels. Honda also includes an animated app for the entertainment system so younger passengers can track your ETA.
Honda Introduces CabinTalk In-vehicle Intercom System
First launched on the Honda Odyssey minivan, CabinTalk is designed to address a practical problem with large three-row vehicles: Those second and third rows can be hard to communicate with when you’re in the driver’s seat. To make sure passengers hear you loud and clear, CabinTalk relies on the Pilot’s voice-recognition microphone to broadcast your message over the rear audio speakers. The system even gets the job done if someone is using the rear-seat entertainment system. In that case, your voice is sent over the entertainment system’s wireless headphones, and other audio is muted.
CabinTalk is activated through a touchscreen icon. The technology is optional for the Pilot EX-L and standard for the Touring and Elite trims.
The Upper Trims Have a Hands-free Tailgate
For another kind of driver assistance, the Pilot Touring and Elite trim levels add a hands-free tailgate for 2019. This makes it less of a hassle to open the tailgate when your hands are full. Instead of fumbling for your keys as you try not to drop your packages, you simply wiggle your foot under the Pilot’s rear bumper.
The Pilot Has a Standard Digital Instrument Panel
The 2018 Pilot has a 4.2-inch information display located in its instrument panel, but that technology has taken a major step forward for 2019. In the newer Pilot, a 7-inch thin film transistor (TFT) display is flanked by analog engine-temperature and fuel gauges. The screen shows the usual vehicle information, such as vehicle speed and engine RPM, and it can display audio and phone details. Pilots equipped with navigation have an extra benefit, as they can show turn-by-turn directions on the screen.
New Audio Systems Are Optional
Both of the Pilot’s optional audio systems are updated for 2019, with the midrange setup being all new. It still has the same sized touchscreen, at 8 inches, but the system is easier to use. For one thing, the screen now recognizes smartphone-style gestures such as pinching, swiping and tapping. You also can create your own on-screen shortcuts for commonly used functions. For an old-school audio benefit, Honda brings back a physical volume knob. The system includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, six speakers, a separate subwoofer and 215 watts of power.
In the Touring and Elite models, the range-topping 10-speaker sound system is now backed by 590 watts of power. That’s a gain of 50 watts over the Pilot’s comparable 2018 audio system.