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2019 Honda Pilot Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.2

The 2019 Honda Pilot is easy to drive and makes you feel confident behind the wheel. Its ride is smooth, and the V6 engine supplies plenty of power while getting class-average fuel economy. You'd never call this SUV sporty, but it's poised on winding roads, and it's not helpless when the pavement ends.

  • "The flip side to the Pilot's ungainly handling is a comfortable ride. This SUV's suspension smooths out bumps with composure. Some road imperfections will rock the Pilot from side to side, but overall a trip in the Pilot is uneventful." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • "It doesn't take long behind the wheel of Honda's 2017 Pilot SUV to determine this might just be the best-riding, best-handling 3-row family transport under $40,000." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "We wouldn't go so far as to call a three-row crossover nimble, but for the segment, it's certainly one of the least cumbersome to drive, with a smooth, willing powertrain to boot." -- Edmunds (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The Pilot features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 280 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard, though the Touring and Elite trims come with a nine-speed automatic. The engine delivers plenty of power to move this SUV, but it's not as powerful as some class rivals’. The nine-speed transmission has been updated for 2019, and it now delivers smoother shifts than in previous models.

The Pilot gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Those are typical fuel economy ratings for a midsize SUV.

  • "We didn't experience the gear hunting [with the nine-speed auto] found in the 2016 model this time, so perhaps the shift map has been updated." -- Autoblog
  • "All models of the 2019 Honda Pilot use a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It's smooth and refined, and at 280 horsepower is quite robust, though not quite as powerful as the Toyota Highlander with its 295 horsepower." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "After taking some criticism for its operation, Honda says it made extensive hardware and software changes to the transmission for the 2019 Pilot, and routine driving is greatly improved. Nine-speed Pilots now accelerate smoothly from a stop, and part-throttle power demands are met with a crisp downshift. Still, it isn't perfect. Stomping the throttle on the highway often led to lazy feeling, two-step downshifts. …The engine to which both transmissions are strapped is a carryover—Honda's well-worn 3.5 liter V-6. Horsepower is 280, unchanged since 2016. It's adequate, to be sure." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

This Honda SUV rides smoothly over most roads, and only larger road imperfections are felt in the cabin. Handling and steering are generally controlled, but don't expect to dive into corners and pretend you're at the track. The Pilot can also hold its own when the pavement ends, though there are better choices for pure off-roading. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • "The 2019 Honda Pilot favors a comfortable, quiet ride. It has a sport mode that tweaks throttle mapping and the transmission, but it can't keep the Pilot from protesting when thrown hard into a corner. This is no canyon carver." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "… on highways the Pilot is blissfully quiet. The suspension conveys just the right amount of information while remaining compliant for a smooth ride quality. Around town, these traits blend with nimble handling to make the sizable Pilot easy to maneuver and a pleasure to drive." -- New York Daily News
  • "Honda didn't change any of the Pilot's hardware for 2019, so the driving experience hasn't changed, either. But that's not a bad thing in the case of the Pilot. That's because Honda's family SUV is actually quite nice to drive with a comfortable suspension, light and accurate steering, and plenty of power from the 3.5L V6." -- Left Lane News
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