2019 Honda Pilot Elite Review: A Luxury SUV For Adventurers

2019 Honda Pilot
The Honda Pilot easily handled the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Photo: Shannon Entin.

Your family needs space and comfort, especially when fun is on the agenda.

When my family takes a ski vacation, we have a system. We like to park at the base near a ski lift. We pop open the back and change into our ski boots right there in the parking lot. Then we carry our skis directly to the lift. No messing with the lodge or lockers.

This requires two things:

  1. We need to get up early because those parking spots near the lifts fill up fast!
  2. We need to have a car that can fit four pairs of skis, poles, boots, and helmets in the cargo space, but still leave enough room for everyone to ride comfortably.
Honda Pilot By Lake Tahoe Shore.

The Honda Pilot Elite in Lake Tahoe. Photo: Shannon Entin.

The Honda Pilot Elite delivered all that and more on our recent ski trip to Lake Tahoe, California.

My family – me, my husband, and our two teenagers – took a spring skiing vacation at Heavenly Mountain Resort. It’s been a record-setting year for snow in Lake Tahoe (it’s still snowing in late May!) and we enjoyed February conditions in April. The Honda Pilot Elite was the perfect car for our mountain adventures.

Related: This is why you love Honda’s SUV’s: Lara Harrington, Honda’s chief engineer, is building them for you! 

Rear Of Honda Pilot With Skis.

Ready for a day on the slopes! Photo: Shannon Entin.

Who This Car is For

  • Families who want a luxury SUV.
  • Parents looking for a stylish minivan alternative.
  • Families who take frequent road trips.
  • Adventurous couples or families that need serious cargo space for sporting equipment.
  • Drivers who need an SUV capable of hilly, snowy or challenging roads.
Cargo Space In The Honda Pilot.

We had plenty of room for four pairs of skis, poles, boots and helmets. Photo: Shannon Entin.

What it Costs

The Honda Pilot offers a wide range of trim levels, with pricing starting at $31,450.

  • LX at $31,450: Includes multi-angle rear-view camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, hill start assist, and push-button start.
  • EX at $34,330: All LX features plus intelligent traction management, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, one-touch 2nd-row seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, remote engine start, and Cabin Control remote.
  • EX-L at $37,760: All EX features plus power moonroof, leather-trimmed seats, navigation, 2nd-row passenger sunshades, power tailgate, two-position memory for driver’s seat, available 115-volt power outlet, and available Blu-ray rear entertainment system.
  • Touring at $42,520: Includes all features available on the EX-L plus heated front and rear seats, LED headlights with auto-on/off, 9-speed automatic transmission with idle-stop, mobile hotspot capability, hands-free power tailgate, 20-inch alloy wheels, and roof rails.
  • Elite at $48,020: This is the model I drove for this review. It offers all the features of the Touring trim, along with all-wheel-drive, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, LED front-row map lights, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row captain’s chairs, wireless phone charger, and auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors.

Related: How does the Honda Pilot compare to the Volkswagen Atlas?

Honda Pilot In Front Of Waterfall.

Quick pit stop to check out a waterfall! Photo: Shannon Entin.

Minivan Features in a Luxury SUV

If your family is like mine, you want a car that offers plenty of space for your gear while offering a luxury feel for your passengers. I’ve always loved the interior experience of a minivan, but not the exterior “van” look.

Moonroof View Inside Honda Pilot.

Atrium-like interior of the Honda Pilot Elite. Photo: Shannon Entin.

The Honda Pilot Elite is the answer to that dilemma. It’s got seating for seven, and, like Honda’s Odyssey minivan, the Pilot features some fantastic family-friendly options.

  • Captain’s chairs: I can’t say enough about my love for the option of captain’s chairs. They are comfortable, they feel luxurious, and they keep your kids separated! Families who need that extra center seat in the middle row can opt for a bench that seats three.
  • Rear entertainment system: The Honda Pilot is equipped with a Blu-ray/DVD player and wireless headsets for back-seat passengers, with a drop-down screen between the two back seats.
  • CabinTalk: This feature puts the driver in a true “captain” position. Just like on an airplane, if you need to get the attention of your passengers who are wearing headphones (wired or wireless) and using the rear entertainment system, you can simply tap an icon on the touchscreen. Your voice will then override the sound system in the car. Now if they could find a way to interrupt my kids’ AirPods connected to their iPhones…
  • Cabin Control remote app: Passengers can download an app and control climate and radio from their smart phones.
  • Third row: We didn’t use the third row since we needed all the room for our skis. But I loved that there is a button that easily slides and tilts the second-row seats forward. That makes it super easy to access the third row if you need it.
  • And, of course, all the safety features you’d expect from a new car including front, side and curtain airbags, back-up camera, brake assist, blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring, lane-keep assist, auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, and child seat LATCH system.

Related: See how the Honda Pilot stacks up against the Toyota Sequoia

Backseat Of The Honda Pilot.

Backseat passengers will love the view and the rear entertainment system. Photo: Shannon Entin.

Super Comfortable Ride and So Many Cupholders!

Sitting in the driver’s seat of the Honda Pilot is a treat. First, there’s the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel that feels substantial and powerful when you put your hands on it. Then you’ll notice the bright, airy feel of the cabin. The windshield is large and, combined with the double, panoramic sunroof and big windows, gives a wonderful, atrium-like experience.

Honda Pilot Cockpit

The Honda Pilot Elite is a super comfortable ride. Photo: Shannon Entin.

Next, you’ve got the cozy, heated and ventilated, 10-way power driver’s seat. And finally, the dash and infotainment display is customizable, clear and accessible. It was simple to sync my iPhone and just as easy to use the car’s navigation system.

Related: SUV or minivan? See how the Pilot compares to the Honda Odyssey

Honda Pilot Infotainment.

The infotainment screen and climate controls in the Honda Pilot are intuitive and accessible. Photo: Shannon Entin.

The ride is smooth in the Honda Pilot. It’s a large SUV, so it’s not super peppy, but it handled the climb into the Sierra Nevada Mountains just fine. And it’s got great towing capability – another plus for adventurous families!

I Love The Space And Convenience Of A Minivan, But An Suv Is What Our Family Adventures Demand. The Honda Pilot Elite Answers With Space, Luxury And Tech.

The other thing any family car needs is ample cupholders. I am absolutely in love with the cupholders in the Honda Pilot Elite. My family always has several beverages when we travel – water bottles, coffees, iced tea, sodas… And we often have trouble fitting them all. No problem in the Pilot.

Drinks In Cupholders.

We LOVED the cupholders in the Honda Pilot! Deep and upright to secure any type of beverage. Photo: Shannon Entin.

The cupholders in this car are all upright! That might sound silly, but so many cars have “angled” cupholders, especially in the doors. This car had multiple, deep, straight-up holders in the door so we could easily secure our Starbucks Venti Pink Drink AND an iced tea for later. And I was able to keep an open can of seltzer in the driver’s side door without any spillage!

Open Can In Cupholder In Car.

I was able to keep an open can in the driver’s side door cupholder – no angle and no spilling! Photo: Shannon Entin.

State of the Art Technology

I’ve already mentioned some of the tech in the Pilot, including the rear entertainment system, CabinTalk and the Cabin Control app. It also has Wifi hotspot capability, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The wireless phone charging pad is another great feature, though it was slow to charge my iPhone XR.

There are plenty of USB plugs and three-zone climate control to make all your passengers comfortable. Another feature I loved was the customizable touch screen that allows you to organize your touch screen to your liking!

Backseat Controls In Honda Pilot.

Second-row passengers have lots of control in the Honda Pilot! Photo: Shannon Entin.

Read More: Need more luxury in a minivan alternative? The Acura RDX sports a new look and more luxury than ever.

What We Loved

  • Abundant and perfectly-placed cupholders.
  • Large windshield and panoramic sunroof gives the car an atrium-feel.
  • Tons of cargo space.
  • Captains seats.
  • Easy-to-use tech with plenty of charging ports.
View Through Sunroof.

Another gorgeous backseat view of the mountains! Photo: Shannon Entin.

Cargo Space With Skis.

TONS of cargo space and a third row option. Photo: Shannon Entin.

What You Should Know

  • Seats 7 passengers.
  • 3-year / 36,000 mile basic warranty.
  • 5-year / 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.
  • Takes regular unleaded gas.
  • Average fuel economy is 19 MPG city and 26 MPG highway.
  • 9-speed automatic transmission with a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 197″ L x 79″ W x 71″ H
Honda Pilot Monroney

2019 Honda Pilot AWD Elite Monroney.

Disclosure: Honda loaned me the 2019 Pilot AWD Elite for our Lake Tahoe ski trip. All opinions are my own.

Feeling most at home when on the road, Shannon Entin grew up under the impression that the highest form... More about Shannon Entin