Reader Review: 2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition
Seven-passenger SUV proved the perfect vehicle for a Rocky Mountain road trip
Having always wanted to pilot a Pilot, Nitin Garg of Toronto recently got the opportunity to check that box. And he really put the seven-passenger midsize SUV through its paces. Traveling with his wife and four other family members, they loaded up a 2021 Honda Pilot Black Edition at the Calgary International Airport and set off on a touring journey of the Rocky Mountains.
“I liked the vehicle immediately,” Garg says of his first impression of the Pilot waiting for them at YYC Arrivals, and adds, “In the Black Edition trim, there were black accents and black details all around the vehicle, including the lower front fascia, grille and wheels. Those touches made the Pilot look aggressive – and if you can make a seven-passenger vehicle look aggressive, that’s a plus.”
Garg observed that Honda might have missed an opportunity, however, towards the rear of the vehicle to further highlight the Black Edition branding. That aside, even if his Pilot hadn’t been a Black Edition, he feels the vehicle overall is “really good looking, and it doesn’t look huge outside. Inside, it’s large and comfortable, and that’s a very fine balance.”
First-generation Pilots were introduced in the fall of 2002 as 2003 model year vehicles, and second-generation examples ran from 2009 to 2015. Third-generation Pilots became available in 2016, with a refresh in 2019. Available in six trims, from base LX to fully loaded Black Edition, all are powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 engine. The powerplant is good for 280 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission is in every Pilot, and each model also comes with all-wheel drive, or as Honda calls it, Intelligent-Variable Torque ManagementTM4. All Pilots are equipped to carry eight passengers, except for the Touring and Black Edition trims – they’re designed to seat seven.
Garg’s test vehicle cost $58,805 with freight and PDI but before taxes; that includes the $300 Platinum White Pearl paint. The group managed to stow five carry-on size bags in the cargo area. The sixth went between the second row bucket seats. Several backpacks also went into the hatch. There’s a sunroof over the driver and passenger seats, and then a split, followed by a large sunroof over the second and third row seats.
“There was good depth with the third row seats up to carry lots of luggage,” Garg says. “The first impression of the full-leather cabin was that it’s very plush and premium, and the second major thing was the sunroof. We all thought that was amazing.”
Before getting underway, Garg took a moment to familiarize himself with the Pilot’s controls, including the push button transmission functions. “I was at home with most of them very quickly,” he says, and adds, “The dashboard and console were very well laid out ergonomically, and well designed. Everything was easily accessible, and the gauges were easy to see.” Immediately, Garg appreciated the ease of entering their destination into the navigation system and then following the highly visible instructions displayed in the instrument cluster screen.
Garg and family headed west out of Calgary to Canmore. The V6 engine, he says, had good horsepower and great acceleration.
“It was very responsive for a car that size, and at speed, when you asked for more, it still had some grunt,” he says. “The transmission was smooth with hardly noticeable shifts and the adaptive cruise control worked great.”