Honda Pilot — Loaded with new features

By David Finkelstein

The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot Sport Utility Vehicle offers a host of new technologies and features, the flagship in Honda's expanded lineup of SUV's and the third generation of the popular three-row mid-sized people mover.

According to Pilot's management team, it was designed and developed in America, and is being manufactured at Honda's world-recognized plant in Lincoln, Ala.. Since the first generation Pilot's arrival back in 2003, it has been a mainstream product. Then, like now, it's engineered on a car-like uni-body platform.

Besides fuel efficiency, it's also featured with a spacious and well thought out interior. Benchmark safety innovations and dynamic handling and steering also help to frame our thoughts in respect to this vehicle.

Virtually every component within the new 2016 Pilot has been redesigned to better accommodate the needs of the driver as well as its occupants. The end game was a vehicle that now offers up more family-friendly advanced technologies, added premium attributes and welcomed amenities. And the product mix is impressive, available in a number of trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and the top end Elite.

Among the lengthy list of standard items are alluring LED taillights. Optional are features such as LED projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, an attractive 20-inch tire and wheel package and for the first time-a panoramic glass overhead viewing roof.

Under the heading of styling; its outer body design is quite a bit more modern when compared to the out going version. It tends to be commanding and muscular in its stance.The body design gives the appearance of the Pilot being confident and athletic within its silhouette — almost as if a sports car was the vehicles inspiration in its design.

Its now longer, lower and slightly narrower than the previous model. The hood and front fenders have sharp character lines. Extensive wind tunnel testing was focused on every inch of the exterior surfaces. This helps to ensure that the body design is as aerodynamic as possible, helping to make the interior passenger cabin quiet and further helping to improve fuel efficiency.

The "class above" premium yet refined interior also has quality improvements. There are newly added standard comfort and convenience features on all trims.The new center console features a cavernous storage compartment, capable of accommodating items as large as a full-size iPad, small lap top computer or a purse.

The addition of a new, top of the line premium Elite version is a Honda first in this segment. Its loaded with high end luxury features. Under the hood on all versions is a direct injected V-6 3.5-liter engine. Its of overhead cam design and rated at 280-horsepower. Its comes with Variable Cylinder Management and it paired with one of two new advanced automatic transmissions — one a six speed and the other a nine speed, depending on the model.

It's also available with an all new class-defining all-wheel-drive system with intelligent variable torque management. It's a seamless and well defined system overall.

Together, these features make this the most powerful, refined and capable Pilot Honda they've ever offered. These technologies, combined with reduction in vehicle weight further make this the most fuel-efficient midsize SUV in its segment. For example, the Limited version with 2-wheel-drive gets an EPA rating of 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.

Under the heading of safety, it comes equipped with a comprehensive suite of Honda Sensing advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies. The vehicle's body structure helps to manage crash situations whereas the driver and passengers have a high degree of safety surrounding them. In part, this is due to the use of ultra high strength steel found within key body components.

The Pilot's inviting interior has high quality soft-touch materials throughout the cabin plus best-in-class cargo space. Now used are LED map lighting and a welcomed/standard 4.2-inch color driver display screen.

Available heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats are also offered. The top-of-the-line Elite model includes second-row captain's chairs which allow for easy walk through between the second and third rows. To help further define the on-board technologies and user friendly features, the new Pilot includes connectivity and power access at your demand. This includes up to five USB ports that provide power for recharging and operating iPads or smartphones, even while they're in use.

Additionally, an auxiliary jack for audio player's, an HDMI port for a gaming console, two headphone jacks and up to three 12-volt power outlets coupled with a 115-volt AC outlet is included. Also offered is Honda's Satellite-Linked Navigation System. The new feature is designed with improved graphics and new capabilities on a large viewing screen. This includes 3D renderings of terrain, buildings and road signs, improved lane guidance, live search function and more.

A 9-inch rear entertainment system with DVD and new Blu-ray disc capability is also available. The base LX model has an MSRP price point of $30,875, which includes shipping and destination charges.

American consumers have purchased more than 1.4 million Pilots over the past 12 years. And that number should rapidly rise as customers discover the newest Pilot.