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Honda Pilot: Redefining the limits

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer

Friday, July 14, 2017

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LEAVE it to Honda to set the pace with the 2017 Honda Pilot. Given its price point, having seven-seater capabilities is rare enough. However, the Pilot seats eight.

If you're going to seat one more than most full-sized sport utility vehicles(SUV), and three more than most class rivals, then there's no getting around size. The Pilot is big. There are enough styling enhancements to give it a premium up-market feel. That size puts it in a class above all upon entry. Slipping into the optional leather front seats feels as if you've stepped into your own domain. The cabin trim is a mixture of soft-touch material and hard-wearing plastic that will stand up to the familial demands the Honda Pilot is likely to encounter during its lifetime.

Passengers in the second row of seats will feel like they're in a small private jet, especially given the standard built-in sun shades in the rear doors. The third row folds out of the floor of the trunk area and is accessed by a one-touch function. While not the magic seats from the HR-V, they might as well be, as whatever size item you put into the Pilot will probably be easily swallowed up by its massive configurable cargo space with both rows down. The second row has a 60/40 split and the third row a 50/50. Even with all seats engaged, there's still enough space. Press a button and the tailgate opens electronically, offering even more tricks like a reversible dual-level floor.

It doesn't stop there, as littered all about are small storage areas and cup holders galore. Between the interior volume and the cup holders, one could host a mobile dinner party. And party you could as the Pilot's infotainment system runs from an eight-inch touch-screen with plenty of connection options, from simple USB, Bluetooth, and HDMI, allowing owners to stream their entertainment over the seven-speaker sound system. More significantly, the standard GPS navigation works on Jamaican roads and can be updated as time goes by for even finer, error-free directions over even online-based options.

On the road, the size of the left-hand-drive Pilot becomes less of an issue. From the driver's seat, the view is commanding and access to a suite of safety features makes sure one can motor along. It never feels slow as the 3.5-litre V6 pumps out 280bhp and 262lb/ft of torque. It can cruise comfortably in ECO mode, sipping fuel, or accelerate with an authoritative growl when prodded in SPORT mode. Front and rear sensors constantly monitor distances between objects around the vehicle with audio and visual warnings. LaneWatch automatically places an image of whatever is on the right of the Pilot on the main screen, but can also be triggered manually with a press of a button. The ride is comfortable and yet never soft enough to diminish confidence during cornering, which is aided by the intelligent variable torque management all-wheel-drive system. If the Pilot does need to go off-road, owners can do so in one of the four intelligent traction control modes.

The new Honda Pilot can be yours for $10.2m.

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