4 Reasons New Honda Pilot Is Perfect Vehicle For The Times – Forbes

Posted: Thursday, June 04, 2015

Honda Pilot dazzled a dazzling U.S. auto market in May with a 17-percent sales increase over a year earlier, extending an early-2015 streak that saw Pilot sales surge year-to-date by nearly 47 percent. And that was the old model!

When the substantially overhauled new, 2016 Honda Pilot goes on sale this month, expect it to do extremely well in the U.S. market. It is appearing at a time that is highly auspicious for four main reasons:

Heavy contenting: At prices beginning at $30,875 when Pilot hits Honda dealerships on June 18, the line will include Honda’s priciest U.S. vehicle even though the price of the lowest trim level rises only slightly. The fully loaded Elite trim level of the third-generation Pilot will carry a sticker price of $47,300, including shipping. With a forward-leaning package of amenities including a panoramic glass roof, LED headlights, and a heated steering wheel, Pilot Elite will outstrip the price of a loaded 2015 Honda Odyssey minivan by $1,820, according to Automotive News.

And that’s a good thing, because Honda executives are playing masterfully into Americans’ appetite for heavily contented versions of just about every vehicle these days — a remarkable and remarkably consistent pattern as U.S. car-sales growth has continued even against a highly erratic backdrop of overall economic growth. In fact, transaction prices for the industry grew by 4.3 percent in May over a year ago, Kelley Blue Book estimated, easily outpacing inflation. Low interest rates and increasingly attractive deals by car makers have been contributors to the trend.

Associates at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC in Lincoln, AlQuiescent gasoline prices: Clearly the second-generation Pilot lately has joined other mid-size and large SUVs as a beneficiary of lower and relatively steady U.S. gasoline prices, after a sales drop for the nameplate in 2014. So there’s reason to think that the next-generation Pilot will gain even further.

The new model is about 300 pounds lighter than the previous version and includes a fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation feature as well as a stop-start engine, a new standard six-speed automatic transmission, and an available nine-speed transmission. All told, Pilot will improve its fuel economy by as much as two miles a gallon combined, which Honda says makes it the most fuel-efficient midsize SUV available.

Meanwhile, it’s expected that U.S. gasoline prices will continue to cooperate for a while. Gas prices this summer ought to be significantly lower than they were a year ago, according to new Purdue University research. And some analysts believe prices will ease to around $2 this fall after leveling off for the summer at around $2.50 a gallon. This in spite of how U.S. producers have been quickly easing production lately in the wake of the precipitous drop in oil prices that also allowed gasoline prices to fall.

Brand new vibe: Honda has lost about a half-point of U.S. market share this year so far, down to about 9.8 percent, according to Automotive News figures. But led by Pilot, times are about to get better for the brand that has tended to get a bit lost lately amid the booming American new-car market and a plethora of exciting and interesting product launches by competitors.

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