Despite early reviews featured on this site, ones that surely didn’t please Honda PR, the Honda HR-V subcompact crossover is a hit, has always been a hit, and that’s really all that matters to the automaker. American buyers quite enjoy the HR-V, so Honda felt the little ute deserved a mild makeover for the 2019 model year. It isn’t the only Honda-branded crossover to enter 2019 with a new face, however.
The three-row Pilot, always an upright, strong-selling foil to Toyota’s Highlander, sees its own refresh for 2019.
To sum it up, the Pilot now looks more like the Odyssey minivan when viewed from the front, and the HR-V now looks more like the Fit. It’s up to the viewer to determine if that’s a good or bad thing.
The Pilot drops its horizontal grille bars in favor of a tighter, more modern visage. Foglights migrate from the lowest levels of the bumper basement up to the wide, faux mesh-filled side vents, while the lower grille opening is now underscored in shiny plastic. It’s a slightly more aggressive look, and slightly more rugged, as well. The crossover’s flanks remain unchanged, with an upward-sweeping character line breaking up the expanse of sheetmetal.
As for the HR-V, it’s a minor but meaningful change. Like Honda’s stable of passenger cars, the wee crossover adopts a bulky chrome crossbar near the top of its grille, while the lower opening grows in width and, seemingly, depth. The side vents shrink to match the narrow, horizontal LED running lights.
Honda’s keeping many details secret until both models go on sale towards the middle of July, but it did reveal some content changes. The Pilot’s nine-speed automatic transmission, available on upper trims, receives a refinement upgrade, as does the continuously variable unit found in the HR-V. The smaller crossover’s AWD system sees its own unspecified upgrade.
For power, we’re left wondering if there’s any engine changes afoot.
As part of Honda’s effort to shoehorn its Honda Sensing suite of driver assist features into all models, the system is now available on all HR-V trims, and standard in the Pilot. Honda Sensing (which bundles together automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping, and adaptive cruise control) becomes standard kit on EX and higher HR-V trims. Both the Pilot and HR-V open their arms to embrace the return of the volume knob, which joins a new Display Audio touchscreen.
Other Pilot upgrades include available 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, a larger rear-seat entertainment system (with Blu-Ray), CabinTalk PA system, and CabinWatch — a feature you’ll recall from the new-for-2018 Odyssey.
Sales-wise, the existing Pilot’s doing quite well this year, with May volume up 36.1 percent, year over year. Over the first five months of 2018, Pilot sales rose 40.8 percent compared to the same period last year. The HR-V, suddenly finding itself with more competition in the subcompact crossover field, posted an 8 percent year-over-year sales decline in May, with volume over the first five months of the year down 2.3 percent.
We’ll have pricing and powertrain details closer to the vehicles’ launch.