The new-for-2016, third-generation Honda Pilot is a sign of the times, and itself, is also full of signs of the times.
Honda’s big, trucky-looking family hauler is now bigger, but less trucky-looking and more minivan-like instead. It’s longer. Overhangs are stretched. It’s belly is an inch lower to the ground. A shift has been made from off-road capability to more car-like attributes, which leave the Pilot more aerodynamic, better handling, safer, roomier, and easier to enter and exit.
And that’s exactly what shoppers in this segment want. Nissan did a similar trick with the Pathfinder a few years back, and turning that nameplate from an off-road-ready ute into a friendlier soft-roader saw sales grow by hundreds of percent.
So, Pilot’s shift to a more car-like product is a sign of the times. Others are on board.
Virtually everything that could be touch button, touch pad or electronic, within the Touring grade tester, is. From the glossy central command screen to the engine start button to the electronic gear selector, many common functions, including shifting gears, operate with a button press or tap. The central command system even accepts the same pinch, slide and swipe functions you’ll have been tapping into your Smartphone all day.
You have a Smartphone. Probably, so do all of your passengers. So, as another sign of the times, Pilot offers up a number of supercharged 2.5 amp USB ports, suitable for high-speed juicing of your electron-chugging mobile gizmos on the go. In fact, no fewer than eight power outlets, including a household plug, are within reach of the front seats.
You access these with a subtle step upwards, and then, once seated, two key attributes of the latest Pilot bop you one, right in the kisser.
First? The driving position. Even with the seat set low in the cabin, you sit up high. The dash is low in front of you. The console sits below knee height. Your writer, who is 5’11 on a good day, had inches of headroom to spare. It all generates a strong sense of sitting up high and in command and being surrounded by space. The Pilot is huge inside, and the way the cabin is arranged makes it feel even bigger.
Second? The manual outward visibility, that is, the kind that relies on the driver’s eyeballs, is excellent. Tall windows, a low beltline, thin pillars (thank the lighter, stronger high-tensile steel used for their construction), and even a properly wide, tall and square rear window make the Pilot easy to see out of. Sure, there are blind spots, and you’ll have to set up your mirrors properly, and a back-up camera is there to assist. But, as far as outward sightlines from a great big family ute go, this one has its stuff together. You can see the very forward edge of the hood, too, which helps make Pilot easy to park. Ditto the relatively tight turning circle.