SUV Spotlight: 2016 Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot 5

2016 Honda Pilot ©Honda Motor Company

The all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is the third generation to be designed and manufactured in America since the Pilot’s debut in 2003, as the first three-row mainstream SUV developed on a car-like unit-body platform.  Year over year the Pilot has set the industry standard for fuel efficiency, spacious interior, safety performance and dynamic handling performance within the mid-size SUV segment.  With the debut of this latest model, Honda is poised to set the bar even higher.

2016 Honda Pilot 6

2016 Honda Pilot ©Honda Motor Company

Honda has completely redesigned the Pilot from the ground up for 2016.  It’s goal: to better accommodate the needs of it’s passengers by providing more family-friendly utility, advanced technology and a wealth of premium amenities unavailable until now.  Major upgrades have been made to the interior quality with more standard features available on each trim, along with the arrival of the new top end Elite version, offering many Honda-first features including 20 inch wheels, ventilated front seats, headed second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic glass moonroof.

2016 Honda Pilot 4

2016 Honda Pilot Interior ©Honda Motor Company

 

Honda has also equipped its new family-friendly SUV with many new tech features.  Each Pilot comes equipped with up to five USB ports, four of which provide enough power to charge iPads or smartphones while they are in use.  An auxiliary jack, HDMI port for game consoles, 2 headphone jacks and up to three 12-volt power outlets are also included.  While all of these features provide for keeping the kids entertained in the back seat, the upsized 8-inch touchscreen Display Audio interface with available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ will keep adults on the right path in the front.  The new system comes with updated graphics and capabilities including 3D renderings of your surroundings.

2016 Honda Pilot 9

2016 Honda Pilot Engine ©Honda Motor Company

Under the hood you’ll find an all-new engine from Honda’s EarthDreams Technology powertrain series.  The direct-injected 3.5 liter SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 engine, along with two all-new 6-speed and 9-speed transmissions, and intelligent variable torque management system (VTM4™), turns out 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.  With a 19.5 gallon gas tank on each model, combined city and highway gas mileage ranges from 21-23 mpg.

2016 Honda Pilot 7

2016 Honda Pilot Interior ©Honda Motor Company

Finally, the new Pilot boasts additional cargo space in the form of 3.5 inches of added  length.  This allows for an inch more of tandem seating space and 1.3 additional inches in the cargo area.  Accessibility to the 3rd row has also been made easier with the inclusion of the one-touch second-row seat available on EX-L and above models.

2016 Honda Pilot 8

2016 Honda Pilot Cargo Space ©Honda Motor Company

From an exterior and interior perspective, the redesigned Pilot is a win for Honda.  The look of the vehicle is more streamlined and looks much sportier than the previous boxy models.  The interior looks much more comfortable and many more features are available.  The fact that there are so many trims available makes the Pilot a versatile choice for families looking at all price ranges in the mid-size SUV segment.  In truth I’ve never been a huge fan of Honda.  I’ve often found the engines sluggish and the finishes lacking.  However, my husband and I recently moved and borrowed a friend’s Pilot to help transport some of our larger items.  My husband found the engine to be quite exceptional, given the size of the vehicle.  He also said it felt roomy on the inside, but he didn’t feel he was driving a massive car.  He said it handled well, particularly given its size and the amount of cargo we loaded it with.  And when we went to the pump to refill the gas tank and return the car to our friend, we received no sticker shock.  It got great gas mileage, especially given its size.

I would have to drive the new 2016 to give the engine and handling a proper review, but based on our experience with a slightly older model, I would say I would be pleasantly surprised.  In a time when costs seem to be going up everywhere and quality seems to be going down, with the 2016 Pilot, Honda is delivering a quality product at a very competitive price. MSRP on the 2016 Pilot ranges from $30,145-$46,570.

Jeep Cherokee: “River in the City” Ad Campaign

Jeep 'River in the City' Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Media Group

Jeep ‘River in the City’ Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

Just after the New Year, on January 4th, Jeep launched a new commercial, “River in the City”.  In the :30 spot, Jeep turned an ordinary street block in Vancouver into a forest-like setting, complete with a mountain river, snowbanks, boulders, rocks, moss, trees and gravel.  They even had two wolves hanging out on set.

Drivers were then directed, via their navigations systems, through downtown Vancouver to the man-made mountain driving course.  They then took part in an unequaled Jeep Cherokee test drive.  They were given the opportunity to navigate the Cherokee through the rough terrain set-up and fully test the SUV’s capabilities in a unique urban setting.

“We wanted to bring to life the real world capabilities of the Jeep Cherokee in a unique approach,”said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer, FCA-Global. “So how do you do that?  By taking what is essentially an experiential event where unsuspecting drivers are being filmed navigating a busy metropolitan street that has been turned into a fully functional mountain river and let them experience the capabilities of the Jeep Cherokee for themselves.  Our ‘River in the City’ takes an untraditional approach to create a powerful statement that the Jeep Cherokee can handle anything a city throws at it.”

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

I find this new campaign by Jeep not only innovative, but a great example of thinking outside of the box.  We’ve all seen the obligatory shots of SUV’s off-roading, climbing mountains and tacking large boulders, but a huge percentage of SUV drivers never get to experience that type of driving.  In fact, the only adventure typically experienced by the everyday soccer parents that drive these vehicles is the thrill of successfully navigating the traffic laden roads in order to get their kids to respective sports practices on time and in one piece.  With this unique experience, Jeep gave everyday city dwellers the chance to experience what the vehicle can really do right in their own backyard, the downtown of a metropolitan city.  For that I applaud them.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

2015 Jeep Cherokee Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

Backing up Jeep’s innovative new campaign is a pretty kick ass ride.  I had the opportunity to test drive a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk model and was quite impressed with what I found.  The ride felt more like a smooth sedan than a mid-size SUV.  It also had pretty good pick-up for a vehicle in its class.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the 9-speed transmission, however.  The Trailhawk ran through the gears way too quickly, which made the engine performance feel choppy.  I felt I wasn’t getting everything I could out of the engine.  I much prefer a 6 or 8 speed engine configuration to the 9.  I found the fuel economy to be impressive at close to 31 mpg on the highway.  The safety and security features, such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and ParkSense rear park assist were also top-notch, as is the towing capacity of 4,500 lbs, quite a bit of weight for the mid-size SUV category.  Consumers also get the choice between two engine types, the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6, or the 2.4-liter MutliAir2, which earns a Partial Zero Emissions Engine classification in 14 states.

2015 Jeep Cherokee Interior Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

2015 Jeep Cherokee Interior Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

The interior is also very appealing, especially in the Trailhawk, which is focused on a rugged and sporty feel, everything a Jeep should be.  It features an 8.4-inch touch screen media display, seven-inch full color instrument display and plenty of storage and cargo flexibility not available in other vehicles in its class.

Overall the 2015 Jeep Cherokee is a great mid-size SUV option for those looking to buy in this segment.  It offers great features, plenty of options and several different models to choose from, ranging form affordable to slightly less affordable.  Even at its highest price-point, the Cherokee offers huge bang for the buck.  I highly recommend readers test drive it, if only to have some fun behind the wheel.  You won’t be disappointed.

To check out the new Jeep ad, visit http://www.jeep.com/cherokeedetour.

Jeep Cherokee 'River in the City' Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media

Jeep Cherokee ‘River in the City’ Ad Photo Credit: Chrysler Group Media