Sunday, August 9, 2015

Should you look back? | 2015 Honda Pilot SE Review

Every five or so a car model gets redesigned. It doesn’t matter the make, the model or the type; there’s a new generation that gets launched after a certain period of time. Whether it be a Ferrari, a Ford or a Fiat, like clockwork you can expect something shiny and new.

That transition period can tend to put consumers in an odd position. The last year of a generation may be outdated in technology and design, but it will probably be more reliable. Because they’ve had five years to work the production bugs out. And once the new models arrive at dealer lots, they’re eager to get rid of the old ones. Which means discounts and negotiating power.

The new model though, has all the latest gizmos and engines. It’ll be a bit bigger, a bit more powerful and maybe even a bit safer. But is that enough to disregard the old model?

2015 is the last year in the second generation of the Honda Pilot. And you can probably still find some of the company’s venerable three-row crossover SUV in dealer lots standing next to the brand new 2016 models competing for your attention. So how does it stand?

The outgoing model is notable for its very boxy and utilitarian styling. It appears like a Japanese interpretation of the Hummer H2. It’s remarkably wide, yet surprisingly short and somehow forgettable.

Inside, however things are much different. The two front seats are separated by a wide centre console which is attached to a very vertical dash. The buttons and switches are well laid out. Except the small display for the climate should probably be near the climate switches and not above the radio buttons.

The width of the car pays dividends when it comes to rear seat space. It allows the Pilot to be a true 8 seater. Though, with all the seats up pack light because there isn’t much trunk space.

The Pilot is smooth in both engine and ride. The 3.5 Litre V6 glides up the rev range to produce about 255 hp. A low number in the class now, but still one that is able to tow trailers up to 5000 lbs (only in 4WD models).

On bumpy logging roads the ride is remarkably complaint. There are no rattles or shakes, just buckets of composure from the solidly looking and solidly built structure. Be it known, however, that despite the Pilot name, the Pilot isn’t built for piloting real off road tracks. The 4-wheel-drive system has only a simple locking mechanism, and no low range – great for snowy days or roads leading to campgrounds. But despite the wide approach angles this won’t be happy on serious trails.

Not that it should be. This is a minivan for people in denial about buying minivans. The steering tracks in a very similar manner to the system found in the Honda Odyssey. And for 2015 there’s a Special Edition that is equipped with a Rear Entertainment DVD System to keep children happy.

Also like the children that will occupy the seats, the Pilot isn’t cheap. The base two-wheel-drive model costs $37,251 and the top Touring $51,001. That is of course at full asking price. Which at this time in the year, you shouldn't have to pay. That neatly brings me back to the question of whether or not this is a car worth looking at despite the new ones on the lot.
Well the only compromises I can think of is that you’ll miss out on some available cruise control technology, this model is less spacious inside and I averaged 12L/100km. Good, but I expect the new one is slightly less thirsty.

I was left pleasantly impressed by the old Pilot. Despite being five years old in design, it still was a good car to drive. If you can save money looking back, it's definitely worth it.

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