Ten years ago if you walked into a Honda dealership and demanded to see the brand’s most expensive model you’d be presented a racy little roadster, one that continues to be revered to this day, long after production has ceased.
The S2000, as it was known, embodied so much of what Honda had excelled at over the years that it is destined to be a future classic. It featured an exhilarating engine that chased revs to the moon; offered but one transmission: a six-speed manual; and earned endless accolades for being one of the best handling cars ever.
Times have changed, though, and Honda still makes some mildly entertaining cars, but the focus has been redirected to comfort, efficiency and competency in the family realm beyond anything else. The flagship model now is a little different than it used to be since Honda’s most prestigious offering (excluding the Acura brand of course) is now a crossover SUV.
If the suitability of a vehicle with “Utility” as its middle name seems a bit askew for a halo model, look only as far as the new 2016 Honda Pilot’s levels of technology and luxury to make a case for it. Our test vehicle, a top-trim Touring model, features navigation via an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, adaptive cruise control and a suite of active safety functions that were little more than science fiction a decade ago.
Everywhere you look inside the new Pilot, the investment in passenger comfort and safety is obvious. From front seats that feature heated elements and cooling fans, to a pair of second row captain’s chairs, multi-zone climate control and greater passenger space for all three rows compared to last year’s model.
Honda has also taken what it’s learned in terms of maximizing interior space efficiency from their successful Odyssey minivan and applied it here. Nooks, crannies, cubbies and pockets abound throughout, ensuring an entire family’s worth of important items are kept in place during road trips and errand runs.
And it’s easier for the family to reach that third row of seats now that Honda has fitted the second row with simple push-button flip-and-slide action to allow access to the real back seat. It’s a slick system that works well.
Read more on autoTRADER.ca: 2016 Honda Pilot: 10 things you need to know
The new Pilot is longer, lower and wider than last year’s model, if only incrementally adjusted in each case. More dramatic is the fresh styling for the Pilot that looks sleeker than before, thanks largely to the sweptback lights and shorter side glass profile. Despite losing some height, the new Pilot actually delivers greater overall interior passenger space, and more notably, cargo capacity at over 3,000 L of volume with both second and third row seats dropped. A quick look at the maximum cargo volume of the Pilot’s key competitors puts the Honda on top in this regard.