It had been far too long since you’d spent any significant time with your three closest friends from college. Plans to get together with greater frequency were always stymied by more pressing commitments.

The four of you agreed that an old school road trip should go on the books. With schedules finally sorted, it would be just the thing to rekindle the camaraderie you once shared. You volunteered to do the driving.

You took the gang in your family hauler, a 2019 Honda Pilot Touring with seating for eight. You’d never spent significant time in the Pilot, but it had taken you to little league practices, music lessons, weekend markets and to umpteen hockey arenas. This was was to be your first highway trip with it.

It was comfortable from the beginning. The two electronically adjustable armchair seats in the front provided heating and cooling ventilation and yours had already memorized two of your favourite driving positions. You struggled with the slight reach required to change tunes on the central touchscreen display and were reminded multiple times (with a lack of tact you’ve always expected from a friend you call ‘Dweeb’) that you’d always been the shortest of your gang.

Your three friends rotated seating positions and at no time did anyone endure hardship in the middle row. There was excellent shoulder and leg room in the outboard seats, more than adequate for adults who had evidently continued physically ‘maturing’ since school days. Comfort notwithstanding, an argument over which movie to watch on the shared high resolution screen was grudgingly settled with a ‘time out’ to stare at the scenery through the tall cabin’s windows.

Baggage (the literal kind) was easily relegated to the space behind the third row. There was no shortage of room left over on the unused back seats for day packs, jackets, several family-size bags of Doritos and a case of Diet Coke.

Honda’s 3.5-litre, 280 horsepower V6 engine worked decently with the 9-speed transmission and the highway miles were easy. Fuel consumption on the highway worked out to just under 10L/100km. The Pilot needed to stop and fill up less often than your four ageing bladders needed to stop and empty. You didn’t tell the gang about the miserly fuel consumption but you did let them repeatedly pay for your coffee and snacks to assuage their guilt over not pitching in for gas.

Given the Pilot’s large profile it was susceptible to a little wandering in excessive cross-winds. At one point (partway through an aggressive Hotel California air-guitar solo) the safety system encouraged you to stay in your lane. While you could feel the wind on the broadsides of the Pilot you were hard-pressed to hear it, even when giving the eleven speaker sound system a rest. Such low ambient noise in the cabin encouraged and enabled heartfelt adult conversation (while Dweeb was asleep).

Variations of highway traffic speed were easily recognized by the adaptive cruise control, which maintained your chosen following interval. When traffic inevitably slowed more quickly than expected, the brake pedal brought you to a stop with consistent and predictable feel. Leaning back on the gas to resume highway speed didn’t smoke the Continental tires down to the aluminum-alloys but it did get you back to higher speed with appropriate aplomb, for a three row crossover. Alas, you did have to remind yourself that you’d left your sports car at home.

Pulling off the road after a few days and navigating through urban traffic reminded you of the Pilot’s overall heft. It felt significantly larger in town than on the open road. However, you quickly readjusted to urban driving without clipping curbs or needing to saw at the wheel to park at a mall.

Your road trip eventually came to an end. Old jokes were told, new stories were shared and an agreement to get together again soon was struck. You volunteered to do the driving.

2019 Honda Pilot Touring 8P
Base Price: $41,290
As Tested: $52,690
Drivetrain: 3.5-litre V6, 280 horsepower, 9-speed automatic transmission.
Performance: 11.2 litres per 100 km in a balance of city and highway driving.
VVUZZ Recommended: For those looking for full family comfort across town or across country.


Images courtesy of the author.

Published on Nov 06, 2019