2019 Honda Pilot Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide
Honda Pilot has received a mid-cycle update which gives it a better chance to be more competitive against newly refreshed competitors. The front and rear fascia have been changed to make the Pilot look more contemporary. The pilot has been competitively priced and is amongst the top players in the mid-size three-row crossovers.
2019 Honda Pilot offers a single engine choice over all the trims - a 3.5-liter i-vtec gasoline mill that is rated for 280 hp. This engine has enough grunt to keep the driving experience far off from being anything dull. And being an i-Vtec, post 5,000 rpm this engine sounds mesmerizing.
The pilot was first introduced in 2003, and since then it has been a mainstay in this segment. 2019 Honda Pilot competes with Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and the newly introduced Subaru Ascent. The pilot has got a good engine, ample cabin space and excellent safety ratings to its name. And the 2019 model has introduced some great changes.
2019 Honda Pilot Features
Honda Pilot is offered in five trim levels. LX is the base trim and comes in a standard 2WD configuration. It offers a 5-inch infotainment screen and a multi-angle rearview camera. Honda Sensing is a standard feature. EX trim upgrades the infotainment screen to a bigger size and offers amenities like power adjustable seats, one-touch second-row fold seats, and an intelligent traction management system. You can opt for the optional AWD from this trim level.
60/40 Split, Flat-Folding 3rd-Row Bench Seat
Adds or deletes features from LX plus:
Adds or deletes features from EX plus:
Adds or deletes features from EX-L plus:
Adds or deletes features from Touring plus:
6-Speed Automatic Transmission
8-Inch Display Audio with High-Resolution WVGA (800x480) Electrostatic Touch-Screen and Customizable Feature Settings
Advanced Rear Entertainment System with 10.2-inch High-Resolution WSVGA (1024x600) Screen, Blu-Ray™ Player* and Built-In Streaming Apps
215-Watt Audio System with 7 Speakers, including Subwoofer
Intelligent Traction Management
Parking Sensors (front/rear)
Illuminated Beverage Holders
5-Inch Color LCD Screen
Remote Engine Start
Power Tailgate (Hands Free Access)
Perforated, Heated and Ventilated Front Seats
Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with Guidelines
Blind Spot Monitoring System (BSI)
with Cross Traffic Monitor
Front Passenger's Seat with 4-Way Power Adjustment
LED Low-Beam Headlights with Auto-On/Off
LED Low-Beam Headlights with Auto-On/Off
Driver's Seat with 10-Way Power Adjustment, including Power Lumbar Support
Perforated, Heated 2nd-Row Captain's Chairs
One-Touch 2nd-Row Seats
Blue Ambient LED Lighting
590-Watt Premium Audio System with 10 Speakers, including Subwoofer
EX-L offers more luxury by bringing in leather-trimmed seats and a powered tailgate. Touring trim brings in creature comforts like rear seat entertainment, premium audio system, and 2nd-row captain chairs. A most important feature is the revised 9-speed automatic transmission. Elite is the top-spec trim level and takes the luxury to Acura level.
For most of the buyers, we would recommend the EX trim. It balances in-cabin luxury, safety features, and technology. For an increase of $2,880 over the base model, you will get a bigger infotainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto and conveniences like push-button start, electric folding second row. If you plan to use your Honda Pilot in the snow, equip it with the optional AWD system that comes with an intelligent traction management system.
2019 Honda Pilot Engine
“Not all 2019 Honda Pilots are the same when it comes to the way they drive. They’re all comfortable and quiet and they all accelerate well, but our rating here applies to the LX, EX, and EX-L trims with their stout 6-speed automatic transmission. We give them 6 out of 10 points, with one above average for their comfortable ride quality.”– TheCarConnection
Engine and Transmission
Honda Pilot is one few mid-size crossovers that still offers a normally aspirated V6 engine. This 3.5-liter i-vtec belts out an impressive 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft. of torque. This V6 engine has some real depth and a fantastic sound when pushed to its limits. Surprisingly, this V6 block returns a good mpg.
The transmission duties are taken care by a 6-speed automatic in the LX, EX and EX-L trims. The higher trim levels are equipped with a ZF supplied 9-speed automatic transmission. The lower variants are equipped with FWD system. The AWD system is available as an option on all the trim levels.
3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6
2.4-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder
280hp @ 6000
288 @ 6500
260 hp @ 5,600
185 hp @ 5800
262 lb.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
254 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
277 lb-ft. @ 2,000 rpm
184 lb.-ft. @ 4200 rpm
Ford Explorer beats the Honda Pilot at the horsepower game. Ford’s Ti-VCT engine is rated for the segment best – 288 horsepower which is closely followed by Honda’s 280 hp output. When we mention the competition, the Toyota Highlander produces the least power in this comparison. Subaru offers the segment-best torque figures with its turbocharged boxer engine’s 277 lb.-ft. torque output.
Big three-row crossovers aren’t exactly built for the thrill. And conquering 0-60 times isn’t a priority for the majority of buyers. Still, the 2019 Honda Pilot has the best naught to sixty mph time in this comparison. This feat is achieved by the Pilot in 6.2 seconds and the quarter mile is achieved in under 15 seconds.
One thing that doesn’t work in favor of the Pilot is its peak torque delivery. The peak torque of 262 lb.-ft. is achieved at 4700 rpm. So, you need to push a pedal a little too hard when carrying a full load of cargo and passengers.
(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
2.4 L H4
Honda Pilot tips the scales at 4036 lbs., yet it manages one of the best 0-60 time in this segment. Honda’s 6.2-second run is followed by Subaru’s 6.9-second. And finally, the Ford Explorer takes the longest 8.2 seconds to reach 60 mph.
Ride and Handling
There is no doubt that the Honda Pilot is a bulky crossover but it serves it purpose as a comfortable cruiser, well. The ride prioritizes comfort over everything else. The steering is light which makes the Pilot manageable in tight urban space(s). The steering wheel is an aptly sized and offers a good grip to the driver.
The Honda Pilot responds to corners well for its size, and with a curb to curb turning diameter of 39.4 feet. You don’t need to sweat out at those U-turns. Front visibility is good but doesn’t compare to the newly introduced Subaru Ascent. Honda Pilot comes off as bulky while the Subaru feels much smaller and nimbler.
Honda Pilot has equipped with 12.6-inch brake rotors at the front and 13-inch brake rotors at the rear. And under emergency braking, the Pilot is expected to cover a distance of 117 feet to slow down from 60 mph to a standstill. These are respectable numbers for this segment. At 4036 lbs., the Pilot weighs lesser than most of its competition.
Brake Front (in.)
Brake Rear (in.)
Curb Weight (lbs.)
60-0 MPH (ft.)
108 (With optional tires)
The Ford Explorer scores an impressive stopping distance of 108 ft. This feat is achieved with the optional summer tires. However the Toyota Highlander with its estimated stopping distance of 126 ft.
When properly equipped the Honda Pilot can tow 5000 lbs. of cargo or equipment. The base LX trim is only available with FWD and this trim has a restricted towing capacity at 3500 lbs. If you are new to trailering equipment, then the Pilot provides upside-down camera feed to aid in attaching your trailer.
3.5 L V6
3.5 L V6
2.4 L H4
2.7 L I4
2019 Honda Pilot Fuel Economy
Pilot’s V6 engine does surprisingly well for its size and returns a combined mpg of 22. Considering the power available on tap (280 hp), the 3.5-liter engine gets the best of both the worlds – performance and healthy gas mileage.
The higher trim models have an improved idle-stop function which improves the fuel efficiency. It has been improved in this edition. Now, this feature starts the engine more quickly.
Looking at the competition, the newly introduced Subaru Ascent delivers a segment-best of 21 mpg which is followed by Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.
2019 Honda Pilot Interior
“The Pilot exhibits typical Honda efficiency and build quality. Use of space is very good, with lots of storage. Practical features such as the easy-entry third row and flat load floor with the second and third rows lowered make a difference when hauling cargo and people.”-Edmunds
Seating and Comfort
Honda Pilot offers seating for eight people. The pilot was one of the first crossovers to design third-row seats that were actually usable for adult passengers. The seating room in all the 3 rows is well distributed. Getting in and out is easy due to the long doors. Beyond the EX trim level, access to the third-row seats can be done via a push of a button. The seats slide and make enough room for passengers to enter or exit.
The 2019 Honda Pilot comes with a new 7-inch TFT instrument cluster. The graphics have been tweaked a little. The air-con vents come with nice trim. The cabin offers lots of spaces to store small items. The center console is bigger now and offers an extending storage tray.
The seats have nice cushioning and offer heated and ventilated seats at higher trim levels. The second row has a completely flat floor that helps a lot when seating people for longer journeys. The top Elite trim comes with standard 10.2-inch screen rear entertainment system and a panoramic roof.
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
40/ 60.3/ 38.6
Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)
The base LX trim is equipped with a basic 5.0 –inch LCD screen and higher trims get the 8.0-inch touchscreen display that supports Android Auto and Apple Carplay. This updated unit is more responsive and offers bigger icons. The system offers snappy performance. The material used on this screen keeps it from smudges. Finally, Honda has offered a physical knob for volume control.
Honda Pilot offers a decent list of interior equipment. Some of these features are mentioned below:
Air Conditioning with Air-Filtration System
Push Button Start
Power Door and Tailgate Locks
Tilt and Telescopic Steering Column
Multi-Functional Center Console Storage
Lockable Glove Compartment
Remote Fuel Filler Door Release
Rear Window Defroster with Timer
Rear-Seat Heater Ducts
Cargo Area Light
Honda Pilot’s cargo capacity behind the third row isn’t the best in this comparison. At, 16.5 cu-ft. behind the third row the Pilot ranks third amongst this comparison. Folding the third row will yield a space of 46.8 cu-ft. and when both the rows are folded (second and third) the maximum cargo space increases to 83.9 cu-ft.
Cargo Volume (cu-ft.)
2019 Honda Pilot Exterior
“Honda knows that ever since it said goodbye to the blocky design of previous-generation Pilots, it has appeared soft. While its overall shape remains predominately rounded, for 2019, Honda has tried to toughen it up with more aggressive front and rear styling. Our eyes find the results something of a mixed bag. Yes, it looks more aggressive, especially in front, but there’s no getting away from its rather bulbous rear. Roof rails come standard on Touring and Elite trims to add utility and further the SUV image, and they’re optional on other trims.”-KelleyBlueBook
Dimensions and Weight
The mid-cycle update brings a more aggressive look. The 2019 Honda Pilot has a revised front and rear fascia. LED lights are standard across the range. The front has a broad chrome grille with piano black inserts below. The tail-lights have been redesigned. The design comes off as edgier now. Honda has inserted subtle elements to freshen the Pilot’s looks.
Curb weight (lbs.)
Ground clearance (in)
Track width (in) F/R
Dimensionally, the Honda Pilot has an average standing. The only figure that comes out different is its curb weight. At 4036 lbs., the Pilot is one of the lightest vehicles in this segment. The competition has an edge over Honda here, the Ascent offers a whopping 8.7-inches of ground clearance and also offers a larger wheelbase which translates to more passenger volume.
2019 Honda Pilot Safety
Honda plans to offer (Honda Sensing) suite of driving aids as a standard feature on all its models by 2020. With this mid-cycle update, 2019 Honda Pilot gets standard Honda Sensing which takes it safety ratings to a higher level. 2019 Honda Pilot receives TOP SAFETY PICK+ from IIHS. The federal testing agency, NHTSA gives an overall 5-star rating.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM)
Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
2019 Honda Pilot Competition
Honda Pilot vs Ford Explorer
The Explorer is the vehicle that started this segment. In its base trim, it is equipped with a V6 engine that belts out 288 horsepower. The Explorer is one of the heaviest vehicles in this segment. It has a lot of positives like a spacious cabin, mild off-roading capacity and the option to choose from a lot of three engines. The Honda has a single engine on offer – a 3.5 Liter V6. Ford Explorer offers similar features as the Honda Pilot but does that a bigger price tag. Honda benefits from clever pricing and a decent spread of features across the trim levels.
Honda Pilot vs Subaru Ascent
Newly introduced Ascent is powered by a four-cylinder boxer engine. Transmission duties are taken care by a CVT automatic transmission. Ascent is one of the driver-oriented three-row SUVs available in the market. Wait, it won’t carve corners but even for its size, it feels smaller and nimbler to drive. The turbocharged engine really gets this vehicle moving. And when it comes to standard features, Ascent wins the game by an unfair margin. Unlike its competitors, it comes equipped with standard AWD, Subaru’s eyesight safety system and offers the best in segment passenger volume.
Honda Pilot vs Toyota Highlander
The Highlander is equipped with a 2.7-liter inline-four engine that makes a meager 185 hp and 184 lb-ft. of torque. The power output isn’t good for a three-row SUV. With a full load of passengers and cargo, the Highlander in this configuration struggles to do basic things like merging with traffic at the freeway. The Highlander is priced at $31,330. The competition becomes fair when the Highlander is equipped with the larger V6 engine. The Highlander loses to Pilot’s value for money appeal in the lower trims. Considering the available options and value for the base model. We believe that your money is spent well someplace else.
2019 Honda Pilot Final Verdict
Honda Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Pricing for the Honda Pilot starts at $31,450. Honda Pilot has been one the better selling vehicles in this segment. With the updates received, the 2019 Honda Pilot comes off as a more contemporary vehicle.
Not everything works out for this Honda, the competition offers better cargo space and third-row seating. The Pilot also missed out on a standard 360-degree camera which is a great feature for a vehicle of its size. It isn’t nimblest 3-row crossover out there. The Pilot is bulky and won’t respond well to enthusiastic handling.
Most buyers in this segment wouldn’t mind to trade off the sporty nature in favor of comfort and utility. And Honda Pilot checks the right boxes. It offers a well-built cabin, plush ride and a powerful V6 engine that is very adept at munching miles. The pilot comes with well-known Honda reliability and offers a good resale value.