Mountain Wheels: Honda’s sizable Pilot gets glossy with a new Black Edition
Back to back with my recent time in the impressive Acura MDX, the new edition of the Honda Pilot shows that ample doses of the Acura DNA travel between the vehicles — to a certain degree.
The biggest member of the Honda family got a significant refresh last year, and for 2020 the needle is moved even further in the style department with the release of the Black Edition trim package.
Pilot is a pleasant, mid-sized, three-row SUV that does not feel ponderous or bloated, and with the additional style and pizzazz of that darkened-out trim option, owners also can push themselves in an even classier direction. Pilot remains a bit of a rarity as it can be configured as an eight-passenger vehicle or seven with the more comfortable second-row captain’s chairs. And access is made easy with Honda’s One-Touch Walk-In system, which provides simple entry.
What’s most interesting overall is how Honda’s original mission statement for affordable, long-lasting vehicles translates into the largesse of this Alabama-made automobile. I got to drive the somewhat smaller Passport earlier this year, and Pilot is indeed a lot more vehicle to handle.
While I felt a tangible dose of lateral dance in Pilot’s step while driving a more standard version on messed-up pavement in Texas this summer, I was equally delighted how the vehicle demonstrates poise and credible handling characteristics. It doesn’t feel heavy, just significant in its height and breadth, though visibility is impressive from the driver’s seat.
Power is provided by a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 — 10 horsepower less than a similar engine configuration in the MDX — and felt quite adequate for local and highway cruising. My summertime drives earned me just over 20.4 mpg, though local drives in the AWD Black Edition were somewhat closer to the 22 combined mpg, and it’s rated as high as 26 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive provides the vehicle with Honda’s i-VTM4 torque-vectoring system, emulating the improved cornering and ground-hugging spirit of Acura’s Super-Handling AWD.
The AWD Black Edition I drove was priced at $50,715; you can go basic and still get AWD on an LX edition stickered at $33,550. For those extra dollars, you get lots of badging, some stylish black paint and blacked-out trim everywhere, from the door handles and the window trim to the grille and sides.
There’s additional red accent trim on the seats, doors and wheel, and special red accent lighting in the front cabin. A nice set of darkened 20-inch wheels also rounds out that blacker than black appeal.
Inside, you get a tasteful blend of functionality and larger vehicle usefulness, with lots of soft-touch, animal grain-styled rubber, a load of leather and then a reasonably large percentage of plastic surfacing, as well.
The deep console box will hold a small backpack or regular-sized purse, and upright, multi-level door inserts hold a zillion bottles and road trip junk.
I am now adapting to the horizontal pushbutton transmission offered throughout the Honda and Acura line, so it clearly becomes intuitive after a few days.
Displays are very bright, with a gloss-black navigation screen providing easy and colorful displays and data.
Maybe the biggest thing about the bigness is the sheer ease of entries and exits from the Pilot. Rear doors are very broad and both sides of the captain’s chair setup slid effortlessly to access the far rear seats. You’ll also enjoy the light from the pair of front and rear sunroofs.
The basic suite of Honda Sensing safety equipment is included on even the most basic models, and the higher-end Pilots I drove had the whole pile, plus an in-vehicle public address system (yes, it’s that big) and multi-device Wi-Fi access. The HondaLink system also provides everything from remote start and teenage driver controls to the wonderfully creepy Amazon Key In-Car delivery routine, whereby strangers can place packages in your ample trunk while you are away.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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It was your typical ranch truck that stopped next to us — dirty, dented and hauling a horse trailer. Inside, silhouetted by the sun, were two cowboy hats and a gun rack.