2019 Honda Pilot — Competent and Versatile

2019 Honda PilotModel tested: 2019 Honda Pilot AWD Elite

Engine: 3.5-liter VTEC V6

Transmission: 9-speed automatic with paddle shifters

Horsepower: 280

Torque: 262 lb.-ft.

EPA ratings: 19/city, 26/highway, 22/combined

Base price: $48,020

As tested: $48,020

Overview: The Honda Pilot is among the most versatile full-size family crossovers. Seating up to eight, it does everything well. Styling was updated for 2019, with active safety equipment now standard on all models, plus new wheels, a new available infotainment system and improvements to the nine-speed automatic transmission.

Walkaround: The Pilot’s profile showcases soft corners and rounded fenders, avoiding rugged looks and opting instead for a vanilla appearance befitting a soccer mom better than an off-road enthusiast. While evolutionary styling changes aren’t dramatic, upgrades like new LED headlamps, new grille, added chrome and tweaked taillights don’t go unnoticed.

2019 Honda PilotInterior: The roomy cabin is neatly organized, very well finished and airy. It boasts generous amounts of glass and an optional huge panoramic roof. An 8-inch touchscreen features Garmin-based navigation and handles the somewhat clunky audio and infotainment systems — making Apple CarPlay or Android Auto interfaces preferable. Controls and storage are well-arranged and conveniently located, including a high-power USB port. The steering wheel has audio, cruise and smartphone controls. Comfort is excellent, with well bolstered seats. A high-driving position affords even shorter drivers a commanding view. Second-row seating is a split-folding bench or captain’s chairs on upper trim levels like our top-of-the-line Elite test model. The floor is low, with room to climb back to the third row, although it’s tight for adults. Once back there, there’s abundant head and leg room. There’s 18.5 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row, 55.9 with the second row folded and a gigantic 109 with both rows down.

Under the Hood: All Pilots feature Honda’s smooth 3.5-liter V6. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available — and standard on the Touring and Elite trims. There’s no hybrid powertrain available. The Pilot can tow up to 5,000 pounds with AWD. The basic LX, EX and EX-L trims use a smart six-speed automatic, while Touring and Elite models use a nine-speed automatic.

Behind the Wheel: Its smooth ride might be the Pilot’s marque feature. Utilizing an independent suspension, it takes bumps in stride. The Pilot uses its brakes to help corner better, applying an inside front brake in tighter corners. Steering is quick and responsive but still relaxed.

Bottom Line: Finding more value, versatility, features and mechanical refinement in a full-size family crossover outshining the 2019 Honda Pilot? One tall order.