8-seater SUV has all-wheel-drive, rear entertainment system
Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) launched on February 23 the third-generation Honda Pilot sport-utility vehicle (SUV) at EDSA Shangri-La in Mandaluyong City.
Speaking before members of the media, HCPI president and General Manager Toshio Kuwahara said the United States-developed SUV promises to deliver more utility, more advanced technology and more premium attributes and amenities than ever before. The first two iterations of the Pilot have been sold in the Philippines since 2006, with this new model debuting at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show in February last year.
Longer, sleeker body
The new Pilot loses the chunky off-roader look of the previous model, instead having a lower and longer form reminiscent of rivals like the Ford Explorer and Subaru Tribeca. Indeed, this new model adds 79 millimeters in length and loses 30 millimeters in height compared to the old model, although width almost the same.
Up front, the Pilot looks like a giant CR-V with its sculpted hood leading down to the huge, three-bar, chrome front grill. The top bar extends into the pointed LED projector headlights with LED daytime-running lights. Below are additional cooling vents containing the turn signals and further down is a small, black, plastic front spoiler that holds the fog lights.
Down the side is a clean profile, accentuated by the character line running through the door handles and along the bottom of doors. The black plastic trim under the doors complements the front spoiler and the lower rear bumper, which holds the reversing lights. Meanwhile, the all-red LED taillights and turn signals mounted on the electric tailgate reveal the Pilot’s American origins.
Kuwahara said the Pilot will be available with accessories like a running board, front and rear lower garnish, roof rack crossbars and door visors.
3.5-liter Earth Dreams V6, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive
Under that vast hood is a 3.5-liter, single-cam, 24-valve, direct-injection Earth Dreams V6 engine producing 280 horsepower and 353 Newton-meters of torque, which is paired to a six-speed automatic gearbox. The Pilot sold in the Philippines will only be available with all-wheel drive, called Intelligent Variable Torque Management or i-VTM4.
Kuwahara said the system includes: Intelligent Traction Management with four driving modes – Normal, Snow, Mud and Sand; Agile Handling Assist; and front-rear, left-right torque vectoring.
Kuwahara said the Pilot is intended to be the Japanese carmaker’s luxury SUV. As such, the plush, eight-seat cabin is lined with soft black leather. Although faux-aluminum trim abound, the lack of real wood or metal trim does make the cabin feel a little drab.
Making up for this are the toys, which really do enter the realm of luxury vehicles. For the basics, there is three-zone climate control, an electric moonroof, second-row window sunshades, a 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory function and a 4-way electrically adjustable passenger seat. In addition, the Smart Entry System not only has push-button start, but also has remote engine starting.
But it’s the Pilot’s seven-speaker, in-car entertainment system that really astounds. Up front is an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that uses an Android-based operating system. This has a CD and DVD player, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, USB, AUX and HDMI connectivity. At the back is a nine-inch, roof-mounted screen with a remote control, two wireless headphones and a DVD player, with additional USB and HDMI ports installed under the climate-control panel on the center console.
In addition, the sliding and tilting second-row seats have a One-Touch function, which allows these to be moved forward at the press of a button to allow easy access to the third row. However, the third row is really best for kids or shorter adults because the seats are set quite low and although these do fold flat, these aren’t electrically adjustable like the Explorer’s.
Active and passive safety features
In lieu of an electrically adjustable third row, Honda has decided to stuff the Pilot with a plane-full of safety features, short of installing overhead oxygen masks and inflatable life vests. It has front, front-side and curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, a tire-pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, Trailer Stability Assist and hill start assist.
More advanced safety systems include Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information, Cross Traffic Monitor, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning.
“No direct competitor”
The Pilot will only be available in top-specification EX-L trim and will cost P3.38 million. In an interview with Fast Times, Kuwahara said the company does not plan to bring in a lower-specification model like the ones available in the United States.
“Some people looking at this car may compare it to the Ford Explorer Sport,” he said. “But this car has no direct competitor. Also, our market research showed that people buying an SUV at P3 million and above would rather get a fully loaded model.”
For comparison, the recently introduced Ford Explorer Sport costs P2.819 million and has a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter, twin-cam, 24-valve EcoBoost V6 engine producing 365 horsepower and 475 Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters. Although it only has seven seats and has sports suspension, it has nearly the same infotainment and safety specifications as the Pilot, except for the Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist.
Kuwahara also said he doesn’t expect the Pilot to contribute much to the company’s sales this year, pegging it at only 1 to 2 percent.