Making sure the “Year of the Honda” continues at the Chicago Auto Show, Honda has unveiled the 2016 Honda Pilot and Acura RDX, offering a glimpse into the future of their SUV line. The all-new Pilot and refreshed RDX benefit from a host of new features and options designed to increase safety, fuel economy, and, most importantly, sales. Both SUVs are in highly competitive segments, and Honda has gone to great lengths to make both cars even more attractive in a crowded marketplace.
To make the Pilot and the RDX as appealing to American buyers as possible, both SUVs were designed in Honda’s American design studio and will be built in Honda’s American plants. The third-generation Pilot is a leaner, safer, and less-thirsty SUV. It’s 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, with an added emphasis on safety and fuel economy. Honda’s new 3.5 liter VTEC V6 engine with cylinder deactivation and an optional stop/start function will help the big SUV save fuel, as will the optional nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Pilot also benefits from the Honda Sensing system that includes new safety features like a revised navigation system, hill start, stability assist, new side airbags, lane departure warning, collision warning, and a multi-angle rear camera. While full performance and economy specs aren’t available yet, the Pilot should prove to be a worthy competitor against other mid-size SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander when it reaches showrooms this summer.
While Honda praises the new Pilot’s “modern, sleek, yet commanding and muscular form,” inside the eight-passenger SUV is more entertainment center than people mover. On top of luxury options like a panoramic sunroof, heated first and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and LED accent lighting, there are five USB ports, and an HDMI port for gaming consoles, two headphone jacks, two 12 volt outlets, and one 115 volt outlet that all come standard. To further illustrate the the Pilot is the vehicle of choice for the family on the go, Honda mentions that the center console large enough to swallow a full-sized iPad, and the rear cargo area can now comfortably hold an 82-quart cooler.
For the luxury and performance-minded SUV buyer, Honda is hoping its freshly-redesigned Acura RDX will be as successful as the last one. The RDX is coming off a record-setting sales year, and this marks its first comprehensive refresh since its 2012 release. Outside, the RDX gets fresh design, the brand’s new Jewel Eye projector headlights, and LED taillights. Beneath the sheet metal, the five-passenger crossover gets a host of new safety features and tech. The RDX has the same 3.5 liter VTEC V6 as the Pilot as the sole engine choice, and the nine-speed transmission comes standard. With the new engine’s cylinder activation system, the new powertrain increases fuel economy by one mile per gallon, with a 20 and 29 mile per gallon rating for the front-wheel drive version, and 19 and 28 for the all-wheel drive version. Eager to put the new SUV to the test, the 2016 RDX will hit showrooms this spring.
With the new Pilot and the RDX, Honda has strong contenders in the competitive crossover and SUV segments. The RDX benefits from a more muscular look and new engine that should help it compete against the Lexus RX and BMW X3. In contrast, the softer-edged Pilot is closer in design to a Honda Odyssey than it is a Range Rover. This is no coincidence – Honda knows that the Pilot needs to be a successful family car, not an off-roader. And with a modern, tech-centric interior, it should appeal to that demographic of parents who want to avoid driving minivans at all costs. With the 2015 CR-V as Motor Trend’s reigning “SUV of the Year,” and a record-setting sales year for Acura built on the late-model RDX’s success, Honda is on the right track with their SUVs. If the 2016 Pilot and Acura RDX are successful, they could ensure that the “Year of the Honda” runs well into 2016 and beyond.
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