Somewhere around middle school (junior high, middle form or whatever your system calls it), if you are taking part or have taken part in any English literature class, you've probably run across the writer George Orwell and his surprising novel 1984 – written in the 1930s as a prediction of future life; a mix of science fantasy and fiction – where one of the author's favorite terms was tech-speak.
Put simply, it's Orwell's way – or his character's anyway – of saying that if you say something long and enough and loud enough and make it technical enough, people will believe it as a matter of course. It's not a hard concept to grasp and, truth to tell, it looks like some of the best practitioners of tech-speak right now are the PR guys at Honda.
Here's an example, right from their website! In describing the new Honda Pilot and its restyled front end (last year it took its styling cues from its upscale sibling Acura and made the Pilot perhaps the worst-looking SUV on the road – the front end was practically all brushed aluminum and it looked as if the Pilot had a weird, silly smile on its front end all the time. The smile was so silly, in fact, that many of us in the car world wondered if the Pilot had escaped its keepers and its meds when it was released. The 2011 Pilot had perhaps the lousiest front-end we've seen on an SUV in a long, long time; time that stretches back to the original Ford Bronco II and Jeep Grand Cherokee, neither of which set any any styling watersheds in the 1970s when they were introduced), the PR guys described it as a “sleek new grille for more upscale appearance.”
To translate the tech-speak, here it simply says that if the design team valued its continued employment they had better not only cook up a new front end (which they did and which turns what could have been quite the worse-looking SUV on the market into a real winner) and the PR guys picked up n the new front-end styling, which saved myriad jobs, and came out with that “sleek new … appearance” stuff.
To be sure, the 2012 Pilot is head and shoulder better looking that its predecessor. The design team actually had a chance to meet in one integrated conference room, apparently, instead of sitting in two or three or more competing shops, trying to find just the right lines to improve what had to be the drunken dreams of some designer (or maybe some other recreational pharmaceutical, who knows and who cares? The new styling is absolutely flawless.)
Here's what we mean – and no we're talking about the usual bunch of modern electronic goodies like streaming audio (true statement from expert author – author is also radio enthusiast and hobbyist with 30 years of experience on bandwidth and other radio issues and can speak with authority on this – wait until several Pilots are caught in the same traffic jam and then wait until they try to start streaming video from the same wireless Internet node – usually a cell tower – via 3/4G technology or WiFi;
(The result will be bunch of unhappy campers whose right to stream is being severely abridged by the people in the Pilot next door – no Congress can't do anything about it and neither can applications of technology. Technically, there is only so much bandwidth available for all devices on a frequency and there are only so many shared frequencies (there is a rather long and involved quadratic equation that will prove that the amount of bandwidth used is proportional to the amount demanded that will show this to be a true situation) available.
(The normal answer of the users would be to give them all the bandwidth at the expense of services that are already there – whether public safety, fixed, mobile or aeronautical mobile – so the demand for all bandwidth available is unlikely to occur. The result then will be unhappy kids in the back who are all complaining about buffering and slowdowns and dropouts. Really, there's nothing at all you can do about this, so you'll have to live with it. This is really a topic for another day, it's really about how tech-speak and real-speak have become accepted and have come together to produce a Honda Pilot.)
For example, where last year's Honda Pilot looked like the nightmare on Brushed Chrome street, this year's grille looks fantastic. Yes, there's still a portion of the grille that is chromed, but the bars are rather thin and the blacked-out grille in between looks just right. Indeed, the design team fared the headlight module, fenders and hood into an organic shape that seems to naturally sweep up from the valance below the bumper, through the grille and on through the narrowed, but sloping hood. The fenders are flared and work well with the overall front end design so that the Pilot now comes standard with 18-inch tires and wheels. The body is also subtly flared as it moves from a relatively wide A-pillar through the passenger section of the cabin to the nicely finished rear end.
This year, though, instead of just relying on the Odyssey as the eight-passenger vehicle, the Pilot offers an EX-L model with a third row of seats that disappears into the floor (ala the Odyssey) for carrying capacity.
Like all Hondas, the 3.5-liter V-6 iVTEC engine is at the cutting edge of technology delivering and average of 22 mpg city/highway. The engine, by the way, is one of the most flexible powerplants we have driven in a while. It will lug right down there in the lower gears of the five-speed automatic and the move out flawlessly when it comes time. The 250-horsepower/253-foot-pound of torque engine has a nice even – and flawlessly broad – powerband that enables the five-speed automatic to make the best use of the speed and power available.
Like all Honda Pilots – except the low-end LX – you have your choice of front-drive or SUV and most people choose the SUV model with its advanced traction control system and – now mandated – electronic stability system. This means you will be able to get through in conditions that would have other all-wheel-drive system slowly – or rapidly – spinning all four tires as they strive for traction. The Pilot uses an intelligent traction system that shifts power rapidly from the wheels losing traction to those with traction and brakes slightly at the same time time for control.
We found on a very wet highway recently that this is a nice feature. We also found that there are many features you can certainly live without, although they are offered in upper-end models such as Bluetooth device integration and real-time satellite display that you can easily do without. Well, maybe not the nav display as it doubles as the climate control and radio control interface, so you'd probably better order yours with the system and if you have kids the rear entertainment system is almost mandatory.
As you can tell, we liked the Honda, despite its now nearly $40,000 regular price. You'll probably lease yours for 48 months which isn't a bad idea, either.
However you choose to view it, it's time that tech-speak and real-speak come together as the “sleek new grille for ...” simply means a nicely designed front end. Actually, the way the PR crowd has put it together, it's rather nicely done.