2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition: Overview
Pilot, Honda’s 3-row SUV has been on the market since 2016 and a replacement is due. However, this reliable, spacious and family-friendly SUV keeps its allure especially with the fully-loaded Black Edition we tested. The design is outdated, yet still functional without drama. For some industry observers, the current generation Pilot is actually a minivan, which is categorized as an SUV. Considering the engineering quality and reliability of Honda, the Pilot remains a wise choice in its segment.
2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition: Engine and Powertrain
The origins of the 3.5-litre V6 engine delivering 280 hp and 262 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm, go back into the nineties. It’s a smooth and linear unit. This powerplant is very solid and extensively tested. Over three decades, Honda continuously improved this engine. What you have under the hood today is the latest version with direct injection.
Due to the lack of turbocharging this engine gives its torque at higher revolutions than a turbo-engine. The VTEC system kicks in at around 5200 rpm and remains effective until around 7000 rpm. However, the economy-focused shift map intervenes with upshifting as the revolution drops to around 4600 rpm thus off-setting the VTEC effect at every gear. In our opinion, calibration of the VTEC system to kick in at 4500 rpm or updating the shiftmap would be very good. By the way, to us, this is the best sounding V8 engine we tested so far. In the Eco mode, it feels a bit sluggish and uninspiring to drive. But, for a family vehicle transporting up to six people and cargo economically, this is not a disadvantage.
VCM system deactivates the cylinder and the average consumption remains at around 11 litres which is good for this weight class.
The 9-speed ZF transmission is another factor for reducing consumption. While Honda now uses a 10-speed transmission developed in-house, Pilot and Passport still have the ZF transmission after a successful tune-up.
2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition: Interior
The range-topping Black Edition has practically every feature of modern safety and comfort technology. Front seats are heated and ventilated, with the driver’s seat 10-way and the passenger’s seat 4-way power-adjustable. The sliding and reclining second-row captain’s chairs are heated too.
The Black Edition has a 600-watt premium audio system with 11 speakers (including subwoofer) and 5.1 surround sound. Also standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, navigation, and, for the kids, a 10.2-inch ceiling-mounted entertainment screen with a Blu-ray player and embedded media streaming apps. Another nice feature (definitely with kids in mind) is the in-car PA which makes your voice heard through the Pilot’s speakers or headphones.
Power outlets include three 12V hookups, one 115V, and four USB-A ports. The touchscreen is undersized. However, remembering that the Pilot is a bit aged, this is not a surprise.
The interior of the 2021 Honda Pilot black Edition is spacious, with generous shoulder and hip room. The Black Edition is a seven-seater, with a pair of second-row captain’s chairs. These chairs slide forward for access to the third row. Unfortunately also the Pilot, like many other SUVs, has a bit tight in the third row and makes you miss a minivan. It is fine for kids, and two adults can travel relatively comfortably once you forget the tight entry and exit.
In the cabin, you have the luxury of 16 cupholders, four USB ports, and a 115-volt outlet. Upfront there is no shortage of storage areas. The wireless charging pad ahead of the shift buttons is very convenient. I could charge my phone despite its thick protective cover. With the bi-level door pockets and a big centre console bin with a sliding inner tray and retractable cover, the Pilot offers sufficient space for a family with kids and a lot of stuff to carry.
The cargo area with a hands-free power tailgate is spacious: 510 litres behind the third row, plus the extra storage under the floor. The double-sided floor panel, carpeted on one side and textured plastic on the other is a smart solution to transport different items. The third-row seatbacks easily flip forward with a tug on a couple of straps, and the cargo volume increases to 1,583 litres. And you’ll have a total of 3,072 litres when also the captain’s chairs are flipped forward.
Roof rails are standard and the maximum towing capacity for the Pilot is 2,268 kg (5,000 lb).
2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition: Driving Impressions
The smooth drive on the highway and in the city is relaxing and comfortable. The communication between the engine and the transmission can be improved as we mentioned in the engine section. The Steering feel is natural, but not sharp and sporty. The long-wheelbase makes your drive more enjoyable but a bit less engaging. Honda adopted SH-AWD from Acura. It is called i-vtm. Compared to other AWD systems this one sends the torque to the inner wheel, especially in the rear. This feature gives more dynamism to the curves.
On the highway, the Pilot turns to an FWD vehicle which also helps to save fuel.
Our average consumption at the end of one week, mixed-mode test drive was around 10 litres, which was very good for a vehicle of this size. But this average was also the outcome of our soft driving style.
2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition: Pricing and Conclusion
The MSRP of Honda’s Pilot model range starts at C$ 42,905 for the base model, LX. The range-topping Black Edition model is C$ 56,805. With C$ 100 A/C tax and C$ 1,870 destination fee, our tester’s price was C$ 59,425
Honda means Japanese engineering excellence and reliability. The Pilot is a mature product in a very popular market segment. When you are shopping for a three-row SUV, this model will definitely be on your shopping list.
For more detailed information about the prices and equipment, please visit: http://www.honda.ca
You can also read our review on the 2020 CR-V, Honda’s most popular SUV