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2020 Honda Pilot Black Edition Rocky Mountain Review by Dan Poler +VIDEO

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2020 Honda Pilot Black Edition Review
By Dan Poler
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

Following a minor facelift last year, Honda’s Pilot comes into 2020 essentially unchanged. Honda has, however, added a new top-of-the-line trim, the Black Edition.

The formerly top-dog Elite trim carries luxury features such as auto dimming and folding side mirrors, a huge second sunroof for the folks in the back (it doesn’t open), heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a wireless charging pad. The Black Edition is equipped exactly the same, but adds black exterior accents and trim, “BLACK EDITION” badging (ironically, in chrome), black wheels, and red interior accents.

The Pilot Black Edition is available - naturally - in only black on black, with, of course, those red interior accents. The rest of the Pilot line all the way down to the base LX uses chrome for its trim; the black used here looks good and adds a hint of aggressiveness, but can’t help to seem a little out of place - a Honda Pilot is a big, imposing vehicle, checking in at over sixteen feet long and six and a half feet wide. Simply updating trim doesn’t convey any greater sportiness or luxury. As well, I have to question the wisdom of thigh-singing black-on-black in the dry heat and strong sun of Summer in Colorado.

In the cabin is where the Pilot shines. Throughout, there’s clear, unwavering focus on the utility of what the modern family needs, without the sacrifice of style. USB charging ports? Check. Rear-seat entertainment with a drop-down screen? Of course - in fact, standard on all models with the Touring trim and up. Storage? Plentiful, including a cavernous space between front seats with a cleverly-designed lid. A fully modern infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto? Yup, no problem. Seating configurations can be switched in just seconds, and the third row can accommodate three kids or even two adults in relative comfort. Cargo space has seemingly endless configuration options, including storage space under the rear floor.

Cabin updates that come with the Black Edition are tasteful - the red accent to seating surfaces is far from garish, and various ambient and storage lighting is updated to red. Honda could have done more here to differentiate the Black Edition trim - I’d love to have seen, for example, an update to switches and buttons to red backlighting from their standard white.

For the driver, the seating position is high, with great visibility. The cabin is generally quiet - quieter than some luxury SUV’s carrying much higher price tags - although there is some road and wind noise on the highway.

Power comes from Honda’s 3.5 liter V6, good for 280 hp. Acceleration is just OK - the Pilot feels composed when pushed, but you won’t easily forget you’re hauling around a curb weight north of two tons. There’s significant lean in the corners, and the 9-speed automatic transmission is reluctant to downshift without really putting that right foot into it. This is another area where Honda might have considered differentiating the Black Edition by adding some more sport: A sport-tuned suspension, tighter steering, or more aggressive transmission tuning would be welcomed. We had an opportunity to drive the Pilot in a decent amount of snow; handling was predictable and capable. There’s a snow mode for winter driving which dulls throttle response, if that’s your thing. We averaged a respectable 23mpg with the Pilot - not bad at all for a vehicle of its size.

All Pilots carry an impressive suite of safety features, including three-row airbags and advanced front airbags, collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, lane keeping assistance, and lane departure warning.

There’s little doubt that the Honda Pilot is a great people-and-stuff hauler. Not much matches it in utility and comfort, and clearly a great deal of thought has gone into making it one of the best vehicles in its class. But there’s one thing not yet discussed: The price. The Honda Pilot Black Edition checks in at $50,715. This represents a more than $1,000 premium over the Elite trim with which it shares all of its features and functions, and approaches $20,000 over a base 2WD Pilot LX. That’s a lot of money for a facelift. The reader will need to decide whether all the toys and the updated styling is worth the investment.


2020 Honda Pilot Black Edition

Engine Type: VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management

Engine Size: 3.5 Liter

Horsepower: 280 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (ft-lb): 262 @ 4700 rpm

Transmission: 9-speed Automatic

Wheelbase / Length (in): 111 / 196.5

Curb Weight: 4,319

Pounds per HP: 15.43

Fuel Capacity (gal): 19.5

Fuel Requirement: Regular unleaded

Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport; 245/50R20

Brakes, front / rear: Ventilated disc / Solid disc

Suspension, front / rear: MacPherson strut / Multilink

Ground clearance (in): 7.3

Drivetrain: i-VTM4 All-Wheel Drive

EPA Fuel Economy - MPG

city / highway / combined / observed: 19 / 26 / 22 / 23

Base Price: $31,650

Base Trim Price: $49,620

Options and Charges

Destination and Handling: $1,095

Price as tested: $50,715