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Every Colorado family needs these two cars

Executive Wheels: Reviewing the Honda Pilot AWD Black Edition and the Lexus UX 250h AWD


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I put these two vehicles together – the 2020 Honda Pilot AWD Black Edition and the 2020 Lexus UX 250h AWD – because of a simple fact: I loved them both.

The Pilot is classified as a mid-sized SUV, but with seating for six in three rows it is a rather large vehicle. The UX from Lexus is a luxury subcompact crossover SUV and is quite small. I had them back to back during the November snow storms in Denver and I would be hard pressed to pick one over the other, I wanted them both.

I wanted the Pilot as a people carrier, snow vehicle and road car. I wanted the UX – my test-drive vehicle a hybrid – as my commuter vehicle, snow car and wonderful run-around-town car. Either car would be an ideal choice for a family (or both).

2020 Lexus UX 250h AWD

The Lexus UX is a revelation. New in 2019, the UX – which stands for “Urban Explorer” –  is all Lexus, with wonderful bold Lexus styling inside and out, a very quiet ride and all of the Lexus high technology for safety and entertainment.

The styling in this Lexus has come up a notch – with a bold, full throttled grill and front end with a wonderful lighting package. It’s handsome and then some. Plus the interior is just a step up. The perforated leather seats here, designed to accommodate both a wonderful heated seat and a cooled seat package, are simply beautiful, in wonderful tan with black accents.

I won’t go into all the technology, but everything is here – cameras, blind spot monitoring, a wireless charger for a smart phone, hookups for your phone and apps, voice command and more. It all operates through the Lexus mouse, that is easy to use. One of the coolest things I have ever seen on any vehicle is here – next to the mouse pad are dials for tuning the radio, adjusting the volume and switching radio bands and adjusting your media settings. This was easy to operate and much less distracting than any other control I have used. 

This vehicle, while small, drove bigger and felt completely safe. It handled very well and was truly a “driver’s drive” – fun with a bit of sportiness. The best thing about this UX is the 250h hybrid engine package with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). While called a 250h, these numbers don’t really mean anything anymore, as here the gasoline engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric hybrid motor. Like most hybrids and electrics, this powerplant is very quick and even powerful at speed on the highway. Plus, rated at 181 horsepower combined and with a mileage rating of 41 mpg city/38 mpg highway/39 mpg combined, you get all of this performance and top-notch economy.

This new UX also comes in a normally aspirated gasoline engine, again the 2.0-liter engine, and this time rated at 169 hp. In both the hybrid version and the gas-only version the UX comes in standard, F Sport and Luxury trims, with the hybrid base price at $34,350 and the standard at $32,300. The standard base model is the only Front Wheel Drive version, so at these prices I recommend the hybrid for a variety of reasons, All Wheel Drive being one of them.

The test drive model had a few added features: around $6,000 for things like blind spot monitoring, a windshield deicer, triple beam LED headlamps with fog lamps and cornering lamps, an upgraded tech system with navigation and premium sound system, a rear liftgate with a hands-free kick sensor, a moonroof and heated/cooled seats. Add in the $1,025 destination charge and the bottom line here was $42,050.   

That is a great price for all that’s here. This Lexus is a wonderful smaller SUV, maybe the best I’ve driven.

RATING: 4 WHEELS PLUS THE SPARE (OUT OF FOUR).

2020 Honda Pilot AWD Black Edition

The Honda Pilot is a totally different vehicle, a mid-sized SUV with three rows of seating, but to be honest I couldn’t decide whether I wanted the Lexus UX or the Honda Pilot more. That’s when I came up with the idea that, while most Colorado families are two-car households, the best idea would be to get them both. The UX for the around-town commuter, and the Pilot for the kid’s carrier and road/ski vehicle.

Today, you can get a Pilot, with a 3.5-liter engine, for a base price of $31,550, with All Wheel Drive (AWD) available for an extra charge. Then there are a total of 6 trims that rise in price to the $48,220 Elite trim, with standard AWD. And then there’s the black edition with AWD standard, every bell and whistle imaginable, at a base price of $48,620. I use the term “base price” in jest as there were no options added, just a destination charge of $1,095 for a full sticker price of $50,715, but I’m telling you – the Black edition is the way to go.

This vehicle is simply badass. It is all black with a crustal black paint job, black wheels and a black interior, a look that got thumbs up everywhere I drove.

It is comfortable, quiet and as solid of a car as I have ever driven. And, it was a beast in the snow, I felt safe and completely in control at every turn. I drove it throughout the city, on the highways and into the mountains, and it never wavered or disappointed. The handling was excellent, the shifting – a 9-speed automatic transmission – was smooth and always seemed to be in the right gear for any challenge, the power was quite impressive.

It helped that it came, standard, with 20-inch black alloy wheels, with great all-season tires that made it ride smooth. The front seats were captain’s chairs, of course, but so were the second row seats, which made access to the third-row bench a breeze. And with mileage ratings of 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/22 mpg combined, it is among the leaders in economy for this class and size of vehicles.

One of the great things for this vehicle is a huge, panoramic roof that gives you the benefits of a sunroof up front that opens up and a glass roof that goes all the way back to the third row for passenger star gazing. And the Pilot has all the entertainment and safety tech available – and it is very easy to use.

Here were some of my favorite things: A huge cubby in the middle armrest, with power controls included, for plenty of storage; wonderful mirrors inside and out that offer great views; a wireless charger on the lower dash with power/USB ports; a very roomy passenger seating area; excellent black leather interior with red undercurrents/stitching and red interior lighting; a sound system with 10 speakers; an unusual linear tachometer like I have never seen, but it was easy to read; and a rear entertainment system.

I wrote in my notes that the car had everything – and I mean everything – but that the “onus was on the driving,” which was great.

RATING: 4 WHEELS PLUS THE SPARE (OUT OF OUR). 

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Jeff Rundles

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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