Out of the Box: 2016 Honda PilotJun 9th, 2015
Designed for the Runway.
Engineered for the Challenge.
People movers. If you need space and the ability to move a lot of people, you’re usually looking at a minivan, a big yellow school bus or a three row SUV. Over the past decade there has been a steady decrease in the minivan market with some manufacturers jumping out of the pool completely and admitting defeat at the hands of the mighty Honda Odyssey. Big yellow school buses don’t fit in the average garage and have a scandalous lack of colour choice. That leaves us with the mighty SUV to load up, take us where we need to go, and do it in all the road conditions that Canada throws at us.
When looking for new insights on their vehicles, Honda has always had a reputation for taking their cue from their customers. After all, the rubber hits the road with the driving consumer. Honda surveyed current Pilot drivers and discovered they were looking for more safety features like new blind spot and pre-collision warning systems but also looking for the luxury comforts like heated steering wheels and cooled seats.
Enter the all new 2016 Pilot which is 90mm longer and with the help of new advances in high tensile steel, an amazing 300lbs lighter than the out going model. This all new Pilot is set to launch on July 31st in Canada and brings with it a whole new level of refinement and available content to the segment. Front row seats are proving to be extremely comfortable and second row passengers can expect to share in that comfort with either a second row bench or for the first time: two captain’s chairs. They’ve made the access to the third row much easier with the addition of a button that not only easily slides the seat forward an extra 2 inches but cleverly lights up (“Bonsai Engineering” …thinking of the small things). Comfort for the “Back-Seaters” doesn’t stop there; it has up to 5 USB outlets 4 of which are 2.5 amp charging slots for cell phones and tablets. The Touring Edition also includes a panoramic sunroof which is (wisely) independent from the front row sunroof, since two minds aren’t always alike. There’s also a new infotainment system with eight-inch capacitive touchscreen and integrated Garmin navi system. It’s android based but supports iPhone. The Garmin system is the best in the business with 3D maps and (as soon as Canada allows) live traffic updates and real-time traffic re-routing.
Safety has been amped up with a whole host of “new to Honda” and “new to the industry” equipment. These fall under the moniker “HONDA SENSING” technologies designed to “sense” the dangers of the road early and either do something about it or alert the driver to action. These include: Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, LaneKeep Assist, Road departure Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning. The Touring model will also add Rear Cross Traffic Monitor to the standard back up camera.
Refinement doesn’t end with styling…how does it perform? Both power and efficiency have been increased in the direct Injection SOHC 3.5L iVtec Earth Dreams V6 which delivers 280hp (up from 250hp on the previous generation) and 262lb/ft of torque out of a new 6speed transmission or a 9speed transmission with a space saving, push-button gear shifter and paddle shifters on the Touring Edition. With that many gears, fuel efficiency has increased in the 2016 Pilot and is complimented by the cylinder deactivation and slick auto start/stop. Rumour has it that Pilots in Canada will also include a standard remote starter to help with those early hockey practices on especially chilly Canadian mornings.
Providing outstanding dynamic handling are a new Intelligent Variable Torque Management (I-VTM4) AWD system which reacts 46 per cent faster and Intelligent Traction Management System that allows you to choose your driving preference for any terrain: normal, snow, mud or sand. This all new all-wheel drive system has an electronically controlled rear clutch that transfers torque to the outside tires if say, you like aggressive cornering. The competition typically uses a braking system to slow down the inside tires to maneuver around corners, whereas Honda appreciates performance and the ability to power through.
From it’s 2nd generation (2009-2015) utilitarian “box on wheels” styling, this third generation Pilot has morphed into a sleek, sophisticated, luxury vehicle. Smoothing over the edges of the box, it could easily be mistaken for a pampered-entourage-full-chariot as it cruises along the “Hills of Beverley”. Alternatively, you could throw in a few buddy’s, their hockey bags, and hit the road before the snow plows do and you’ll hear it purr…“you can love me for my sheet metal…but you’ll respect me for my performance.”
Now if only we had red carpet at the hockey arena!
“Flexible and roomy rear seats; comfortable ride; fuel efficient for the class; sophisticated all-wheel-drive system; high-tech safety features available on most trims.”
“Hopefully the competition enjoyed the head start, because that’s over. The new Pilot addresses every conceivable deficiency of the outgoing model while building on its inherent strengths”
Alex Nunez – Road & Track
“No question that the Pilot’s redesign reestablishes it among the big players in this popular market segment. It does a great job of providing near-minivan utility in an image-friendly SUV wrapper”
“Honda generally offers vehicles that age well and the new Pilot looks like it should stand the test of time… This major overhaul will put Honda back in the lead not only thanks to the Pilot’s new, more contemporary look, but also because of its engineering.”
–Vincent Aube, Autofocus