2009 Honda Pilot Photo

2009 Honda Pilot - Review


Boxy urban utility vehicles have a strong following in many Asian countries, and have been around for many years. The theme is slowly beginning to catch on in the U.S. and Europe - Scion’s xB has made some inroads, the Ford Flex appears to be floundering and Nissan’s upcoming Cube hopes to expand the field further - but to date most of the entries have all been relatively small in size. Honda’s Pilot, while sharing a lot in terms of looks, is an order of magnitude larger, both inside and out. Whether that helps place it in a different and more broadly acceptable category or dooms it to outcast status is a question for some debate.

At first glance the 2009 Pilot is nothing new or groundbreaking, but a closer examination reveals some interesting traits. Its basic form is of two rectangular boxes stacked neatly, like a child’s vision of a school bus. Some chamfered edges and a very bulky grille give the Pilot a modern look, but the shape is decidedly uninspired. It is, however, a great shape for maximizing the interior space in a given set of exterior dimensions. The paradoxical largeness of this very car-like SUV makes for an intriguing blend of handling and practicality, but inspires little confidence in off-road or towing capability.

Part of the less-than-confident feel of the Pilot can be traced to its rather anaemic 250hp (183kW) 3.5L V6 engine. Certainly the power would be adequate if backed up by a suitably large torque figure, but this engine needs to be spun at 4,000-5,000rpm before it feels like it’s doing any real work, and by then it’s gone past sipping, drinking, and slurping fuel directly to chugging it. Watching the fuel-economy gauge under moderate-to-hard acceleration or while going up a steep hill will routinely cause ratings in the 3-5mpg (78-47L/100km) range - hardly in keeping with Honda’s ‘green carmaker’ image. Peak torque is rated at an uninspiring 253lb-ft (342Nm) at a lofty 4,800rpm, however, a dual-stage intake manifold and variable valve timing and lift keeps over 90% of this twist between 2,000 and 6,000rpm.


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Comments (8)
  1. 3 to 5 mpg? You've got to be joking.

  2. Great review.

    I wonder how it compares to a Ford Explorer. I used to own one of the newer styles (2002 model) with a V8 that had mountains of torque, but I had a big boat to tow, and an airplane trailer (5,000 pounds and 30 feet long) which the Pilot could never come close to. But the Pilot at that time felt more carlike.

  3. One nice thing about this Pilot: the undercarriage has been sorted out. The previous one had that Honda Fit sized muffler sitting in plain view, a clear sign Honda just didn't give a damn.

    And of course Honda has gone and done another world class interior. The aesthetics of it are faultless judging by the pictures.

    And then you step to the front of it and get a kick in the balls with that absolutely disgusting fascia that screams *we're Honda and we could so *F**K YOU!*.

    Lucky for you the blinding lights of the Honda DRLs will keep you from seeing the horrific front end for long. Or much of anything if you stare at them too long.

  4. I finally saw 2 of these on the road & they weren't as bad as I thought. Granted, very plain looking but I like that they went the boxy route instead of the trendy swoopiness found on Mazdas. I am sure there is a lot more interior space w/ this design ...

  5. I liked the styling of the previous Pilot better.

    And Hector will never let go of the DRL issue... :)
    (I admit, I have never owned a vehicle with them, and may never buy one that at least doesn't have the ability to switch them off if I choose to).

  6. Never Gus! I don't think I've hated anything in my life like I hate DRLs. I'd rather drive a Yugo than buy a car that has them.

    And let me give you a little tip: even if you manage to turn off the DRLs on Honda vehicles a light in the dashboard will tell you there's a problem with your DRLs. That light will be on ALL.THE.TIME. It's Honda's way of saying *who the hell do you think you are turning off our incredibly annoying and useless lights in a vehicle you own!?*

    Makes you think, doesn't it?

  7. True enough, I guess I'll get the Explorer as my next mid size SUV...

    My opnion is that the Pilot probably drives better, and the Explorer tows harder.

  8. Too bad Hector and Gus don't realize the safety value of DRL's. No motorcyclist would be without a headlight on these days, day or night.

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