Model tested: 2020 Honda Pilot AWD Black Edition
Engine: 3.5-liter VTEC V6
Horsepower: 280 • Torque: Not available
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA ratings: 19/city, 26/highway, 22/combined
Base price: $49,620 • As tested: $50,715
Overview: The Honda Pilot is perhaps the most vanilla full-size family crossover available. However, the 2020 Pilot Black Edition is focused on erasing that vanilla image, but not what makes the Pilot a great vehicle. With all black everything, it’s successfully captured that trendy black monochromatic look. The midsize SUV segment is quite crowded, and competitors include the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Chevy Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent and Nissan Pathfinder. Honda has positioned the Black Edition as its absolute top luxury crossover. There are no factory options, and as the top-of-the-line Pilot, just about everything is standard equipment — including all-wheel drive.
Walkaround: Although the Pilot received styling and evolutionary equipment updates for 2019, Crystal Black Pearl paint and black leather interior define the Black Edition — and help set this Pilot apart from the rest of the segment. In addition to the paint, this Pilot boasts a black grille, headlight surrounds, window trim, door handles and exterior mirrors. Finishing off the look are black 20-inch alloy wheels. The only chrome is the Black Edition badging front and rear.
Interior: The Black Edition theme inside features black leather and piano black trim on the dashboard and center console. Red accents are found throughout the cabin — red stitching on the steering wheel, front and second-row seats and door panels, as well as red ambient lighting. The words Black Edition are embossed on the front seatbacks and floor mats. Instrumentation is usefully arranged with a centered 8-inch infotainment screen that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The steering wheel has controls for the driver’s smartphone and the audio system. A shallow bin holds a smartphone right next to a high-power USB port.
Behind the Wheel: The Pilot features a 3.5-liter V6, putting 280-horses to the highway, with AWD standard on the Black Edition. There’s no hybrid powertrain available. The ride is comfortable — even on rough pavement — and the seats well-bolstered. The Pilot delivers crisp handling, with steering that’s quick and responsive, while the 9-speed automatic is smooth, but not exactly decisive.
Bottom Line: The Black Edition is Honda’s badass version of its flagship full-size family crossover — delivering traditional Honda value, versatility, features and mechanical refinement.