No. 960
August 22, 2018

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Surface


JULY 18, 2018

LONGER! LOWER! WIDER! Not really, but Honda has introduced a refreshed 2019 Honda Pilot, which arrives at dealers this week, and, as you might expect, it's better in every way, according to Honda PR minions. Honda has made a long list of upgrades to their 8-seat SUV, including more interesting exterior styling, an available new hands-free power tailgate, powertrain refinements, major upgrades to available connected-car technology, an available new Display Audio touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ integration, and - ta-dah! - a volume knob. The 2019 Pilot also adopts the Honda Sensing® suite of advanced driver-assistive and safety technology as standard in all trims. All 2019 Pilots are available with intelligent Variable Torque Management system (i-VTM4) with true torque-vectoring. Standard on all AWD trims, i-VTM4 uses an electronically-controlled, hydraulically-actuated rear differential to apportion engine torque between the front and rear axles, and dynamically distribute torque between the left and right rear wheels. In addition, the 2019 Pilot's 9-speed automatic transmission, available in Touring and Elite trims, gets new tuning for enhanced drivability and smoother shifts, while Pilot's Idle Stop system now provides quicker restarts and more seamless operation. The 2019 Pilot LX with standard front-wheel drive carries a starting MSRP of $31,450 (excluding $995 destination and handling). The top-of-the-line Pilot Elite with AWD starts at $48,020.
(Audi images)

25 Minutes With the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

By Tom Pease

Beverly Hills. For some reason I got an invitation to preview the Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV. How or why I do not know since I would be able to afford a Rolls shortly after I accepted my Oscar for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, but the invitation came so I accepted. The place was some studio on Cahuenga in Hollywood, all cool marble, granite and reflecting pools down the street from the DMV and a small homeless tent city. Rolls did get one thing right- they hired people as greeters who were not only attractive but who welcomed people with genuine warmth; nothing says "nouveau" more than haughty help. As is my wont (and because it was going to be hotter than hell) I arrived smack on at 10am when they opened. It wasn't too crowded so I was able in my brief time to take a fairly decent look at the beast.
And a beast it is. The styling somewhat manages to belie the sheer mass of it; I am sure that it's at least as large if not larger than an Escalade, an SUV that almost gleefully revels in it's own corpulence. Except for the upright grill and the (I am sure retractable) Flying Lady there isn't much that screams "Rolls" to the uninitiated. But I guess when you're piloting a $325,000.00 invitation to class warfare, it's best to keep it somewhat on the down low.
I was only briefly in the interior, which is covered with the finest of the finest and everything is finest, etc. etc. However the thing is that everyone from Audi to Hyundai has raised the bar so much on interiors that to justify stratospheric prices you're going to have to have to get stratospheric materials. Leather? Try Ostrich. Try Alligator. Wood on the dash? Ha! I can get that on a Veloster. Try Marble. Try Granite. Maybe asteroid.
I did look at the rear compartment on both cars. The red one was I suppose the standard one. It was just carpeted (no doubt with something terribly expensive; it looked far better than my rugs at home.) I was there with a couple who looked as if they could afford one and the man showed me that there was a button that folded the front fourth of the floor up like a ramp. The rear seats fold down, but do not create a flat floor so the ramp is there I suppose so that Sneaves the butler can slide those extra cases of Bollinger onto the folded back seats. We joked that it was there for the trips to Home Depot. Polite laughter all around.
The other one had the picnic seats (which a nice young man swooped in to show me as I was pressing buttons and looking clueless.) Apparently this is a module which, when the correct button is pressed, extends out a platform with two little seats, the backs of which can be folded up and an almost comical little table that powers up to extend perhaps and inch and a half. I suppose the idea is that one would be taking this to say, Ascot to sip the Bolly Sneaves stocked the (shockingly not cooled) storage with. The Prole in me thought "Massive overkill for a Brewers game." The nice young man told me that the catch I was blithely releasing was to remove the whole magilla; he proudly stated that one, on their own could remove the whole assembly without going to the dealer and store it if it was not going to be used. I could not help but think that at that price point not only should I (or Sneaves) not have to remove it, but the Dealer should store it for me, like Mercedes dealers did for SL Customers in the 70's and 80's.
All kidding aside, it is a beautiful piece that I think lets it down in certain areas, at least ones I saw in the 20 minutes I was there. Now the people at Rolls could chime in and tell me I am wrong, but I would expect if you are going to have the trick picnic seats (whatever Rolls calls them) that they would include storage that is heated or cooled, so that while you are watching the ponies run or the sunset over wherever your perrier is chilled or your hot chocolate is warm. If seats are going to fold, they should fold flat to the load floor so that barn find Klimt can lay flat on the way to the restorer.
But of course this is so not me. Even with PowerBall winnings, if I was going to get an SUV it would be far more for picking up mulch than a Manet. I would love to spend more time with the Cullinan to understand it more, but I am sure the previous six paragraphs of snark will put paid to that, as well as any further invitations. So it goes.