Honda Pilot Elite next to tap premium market – USA TODAY
How high is up? Quite lofty, when it comes to auto pricing.
Honda’s redone 2016 Pilot three-row SUV will get an Elite model that has, Honda says, “a premium look, feel and experience with highest level of standard features.”
No price announced yet — that comes closer to the on-sale date this summer — but whatever it is it’ll be more than the $42,000 or so sticker price on the current high-end model, Pilot Touring.
Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell says, “As auto sales growth levels off, automakers will look toward larger margins to squeak out additional profit. Car buyers already are paying the highest prices in history, so it seems like a fitting time to offer these luxurious options.”
And regardless of the Pilot Elite’s specific pricing, it’ll fit right into the price jumps coming at buyers of trucks and SUVs generally, luxury brands specifically.
“Higher-end trims and option packages are becoming the norm. Manufacturers know that there is great margin to be made when consumers are willing to spend money on vehicles regardless of segment,” says Akshay Anand, analyst at price and auto researched Kelley Blue Book.
“A $30,000 car can actually end up being $50,000 out the door with features (buyers) may want,” Anand notes, citing as an example the new Kia Sorento Limited V-6 SUV starting at $41,300.
Most dramatic recent examples of a very high ceiling, if there is one, come from the New York auto show that wrapped up April 12.
•Jaguar Land Rover’s Range Rover SVAutobiography, $199,495 and up. It’s a long wheelbase version of the Range Rover upmarket SUV and it’s two-tone, first time Range Rover’s done that.
Rover’s buyers are well-off, to say the least, but even so, other automakers were a bit taken aback by the price. They’ll watch the model closely. If JLR can get that much for a modified version of something it already was building, other car companies might ape the move.
•Aston Martin Vulcan, a very limited production model that can’t legally be driven on the street, only the race track, is 1.5 million British pounds, about $2.2 million today.
Aston Martin, like JLR, is a high-dollar brand, but multiple millions, U.S., still staggers credulity.
Only 24 are being built. Buyer’s get driving lessons on a track, progressing through several horsepower levels available in the car until they can flog the machine decently with all 800-plus hp unleashed.
Closer to reality — at least a little closer — General Motors’ Cadillac Escalade is the poster SUV, with a sticker price around $81,000 and a real-world price around $78,000, says Truecar.com
Ford’s aluminum-body 2015 F-150 pickup got price boosts of more than $3,000 on the two top models as part of the switch to the new design. The highest-end model, Platinum, starts at about $56,000.
Honda’s Pilot will be a softer touch, but should demonstrate that stiff prices are rolling downhill into mainstream models.
Highlights of the 2016 Pilot:
•The 3.5-liter V-6 engine has more power: 280 hp and 262 pounds-feet of torque.
•”Significantly upgraded” display and navigation systems.
•The four-wheel-drive system, like premium SUVs, allows the driver to adjust among normal, mud, sand, and snow modes. The front-drive version even has a choice between normal and snow.
Such modes typically adjust the throttle responsiveness, transmission gearing, application of the traction control system.