As brands seem, more and more, to only care about “autonomy” and “cars as technology,” it’s nice when more driver-oriented features show up in even the most utilitarian of people haulers. Enter the 2019 Honda Pilot, which can animate its torque-management system in real time in front of the driver.
(Full disclosure: I asked Honda if I could drive a Civic Type R, but the company didn’t have any in my state and sent me a 2019 Honda Pilot Elite to review instead. Even still, I’m rather enjoying being an SUV lady for a week.)
Like most cars with digital displays, the Pilot has several options a driver can choose from where their gauge cluster would typically be tucked in behind the steering wheel. One of those display options is showing what Honda calls its Intelligent Variable Torque Management, a fancy name for the automaker’s all-wheel-drive system. It comes with an animation of the torque going to all four wheels—or just some of them—in real time.
The torque-management system has been around and in the Pilot for a few years now, and according to Honda, it “distributes optimum torque between the front and rear axles and ... distributes engine torque between the left and right rear wheels using the new, lightweight rear drive unit.”
The animation shows it doing just that.
The system makes the torque and the variability of how it’s dispersed easy to see and understand—it distributes almost evenly to the four wheels upon initial acceleration, before tapering off to just the front wheels at cruising speeds when there’s little input on the gas pedal. The animation also shows when the torque leans more toward one rear wheel or another, depending on the position of the car going around a corner and such. It’s simple to follow and fun to watch.
Crossovers and SUVs like the three-row Pilot might be people haulers with a main focus of getting people and stuff from one place to another comfortably, but they’ve still got interesting things sometimes to get that job done.
Being able to watch those underpinnings in real time, instead of just focusing on the seat air conditioning, touch-screen radio and armrests, is a welcome touch.