Preview: 2016 Honda Pilot

Honda simultaneously debuted its all-new 2016 Honda Pilot at the Canadian International Auto Show and at the Chicago Auto Show on the very same day. The Pilot, in its third generation, has been redesigned and re-engineered, and will be manufactured here in North America. Scheduled to be in Canadian dealerships this summer, Honda says the third-gen Pilot boasts new technology, class-leading safety features and improved fuel efficiency, with a new focus on driving dynamics wrapped in a modern and stylish design.

It's not exactly a lust-inspiring machine, then again, nothing in that price range and segment really is.

Dave Gardner, senior vice president of operations, Honda Canada Inc., says: "With looks that command attention and the powerful presence of true functionality, the 2016 Pilot sets a new benchmark in the intermediate SUV class with an unmatched combination of advance technology and utility. This means the all-new Pilot will provide family comfort, entertainment and assistance to active Canadians in all aspects of their lives, whether it’s an evening out for two, a road trip adventure for all or just the chores of everyday life.”

Real-world translation: They're going after the highly competitive "Soccer mom and dad" market and have put a heavy emphasis on safety and utility features.

Let's start with the style, interior and feature department. Design-wise, the Pilot looks a little beefier and more muscular but nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd in its segment. It's not exactly a lust-inspiring machine, then again, nothing in that price range and segment really is. So, nothing major to report in styling department.

Projector LED headlights with auto high-beam tech and LED daytime running lights and tails are available as an option. Panoramic Roof option is a available for the first time and is a welcome addition to any road-going vehicle. For all your baller wheel needs, 20-inch wheels are also available.

Updates to the interior now include high-quality, soft-touch materials throughout the cabin and LED map lighting, otherwise known as "where the heck did I drop my phone or keys" lighting. Heated seats come standard (#becausecanada), while heated steering wheel (if you've never tried one, you need one) and heated second-row seats are available.  For the first time, top-trim Pilot models will have second-row captain’s chairs, providing for easy walk through between the second and third rows – okay, maybe "easy" is stretching it – in addition to the standard second-row three-person 60/40 split seat for eight-passenger seating capacity on all other trims.

More on autoTRADER.ca: 10 things you need to know about the 2016 Honda Pilot

Now let's move on to the technology department. As this is a family-oriented vehicle, Honda has to get this right to be competitive. Up to five USB ports are available, four that provide quicker recharging with a 2.5-amp output. Useful to charge iPads or smartphones while streaming YouTube videos or taking selfies for social media. Additional ports and plugs include an auxiliary jack for nearly any audio player, an HDMI port for a gaming console, two headphone jacks, two 12-volt power outlets and a 115-volt outlet to power just about anything. Modern-day road trip for a modern-day family ready, for sure.

The new Pilot ships with an upsized eight-inch capacitive touchscreen Display Audio telematics interface powered by a new operating system and more powerful processor, along with an available all-new embedded Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System. Translation: 8" touchscreen with an updated OS and processor and Navi.

The new navigation system features improved graphics and new capabilities, including three-dimensional renderings of terrain, buildings and road signs, improved lane guidance, live search function, 911 emergency services and more.

The Pilot’s multimedia system claims to enable simplified smartphone connectivity, making for easier access to all the features and connectivity options of the HondaLink connected-car system.

A nine-inch rear entertainment system with DVD/BluRay player is available as an option, presumably with capability to plug your video game console or media player into. Presumably.

As for cargo specifications and utility, the Pilot adds on 90 mm of length to enable a larger cargo area. Apparently, as a segment-exclusive feature, you can put a 78L or 82-quart cooler into the cargo area while retaining full use of the third row. Getting into and out of the third-row has been made easier by a power slide and tilt button for the second row seats. Width of the third-row entryway has been increased by 65 mm.

The Pilot’s new centre console features a massive storage compartment capable of accommodating items as large as a full-size iPad or large purse. With its cover slid into the closed position, the console provides a non-slip surface for items that the driver or front passenger may need close at hand. Translation: your smartphone. Obviously, operating your smartphone while driving is dangerous and isn't recommended for any reason, but those pads are great for resting your phone on an easily accessible surface.

Powertrain-wise, we're looking at an Earth Dreams 3.5L i-VTEC V6 with cylinder deactivation technology for fuel savings and economy. Stop/start is also available. Depending on the trim level, there are two transmission options. The lower trims ship with a new six-speed automatic box. Upper level trims make use of the nine-speed autobox we've been hearing about. As for drivetrain options, a brand-new all-wheel-drive system is available. If you prefer 2WD, the front-wheel-drive configuration will be available.

Honda have managed to shed almost 135 kg from the last generation Pilot by way of a lighter body and lighter powertrains.

To keep your family safe, Honda have gone to town on the safety features. The new Pilot is expected to deliver the highest safety ratings in its class and targets a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the U.S. NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including a Good rating in all crash modes.

Pilot will feature the most comprehensive set of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies ever offered on a Honda vehicle. Available with pretty much every acronym available, including  LaneWatch display, Blind Spot Indicators, a standard Multi-Angle Rear View Camera, and available Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control and a Honda-first Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) system.

Honda has your family covered with the introduction of the new Pilot. It'll slot in nicely as the king of the heap in their family utility segment. Joining the new-for-last-year CR-V, and the upcoming HR-V crossover, it's high time Honda updated the Pilot.

Honda simultaneously debuted its all-new 2016 Honda Pilot at the Canadian International Auto Show and at the Chicago Auto Show on the very s 2/13/2015 5:49:03 PM