2009 Honda Pilot Review | The Truth About Cars

10 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Honda Pilot Review | The Truth About Cars

Honda Pilot

2009 Honda Pilot Review

Honda was the first automaker to offer Americans a car-based SUV with a third row of seats. It didn#8217;t matter that an Odyssey minivan was more fun to drive. Families wanted a third row without the stigma of a minivan or the bulk of a conventional SUV.

The Pilot outsold all other midsize car-based SUVs. Then new competitors piled into the segment: Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Mazda CX-9 and more. Honda lost its place at the head of the class. For the 2009 model year, Honda has responded with a fully redesigned Pilot.

Have they done enough to reclaim their supremacy?

The original Pilot was a blandly inoffensive box on wheels. The new Pilot sports a bulkier nose, a higher beltline, more Hummeresque side windows (let us not speak ill of the dead) and a chrome butt strip. The formerly cute ute looks much more like a conventional SUV#8211; except for the clunky grille. (Honda designer Dave Marek says the new design will grow on you; so can fungus.)

The same, more massive aesthetic has been applied to the Pilot#8217;s interior. The center stack, the center console, and the door panels all have the chunky forms typical of a conventional full-size SUV.

If this were a Chrysler, we#8217;d be saying that the interior plastics look cheap. Since it#8217;s a Honda, we#8217;ll say they look #8220;affordable.#8221; As in cheap. Surfaces display the sheen you#8217;d expect from budget grade rock-hard polymers, while the instrument panel includes far too many prominently located cut lines. Want something nicer? Honda invites you to pick up an MDX.

Alternatively, you could buy a competitor#8217;s product.

Like a conventional SUV, the Pilot#8217;s windshield is downright upright. The instrument panel isn#8217;t minivanishly deep and visibility is excellent. Although the Pilot#8217;s front seats are larger and cushier than those found in smaller Hondas, there#8217;s less lateral support than Hillary Clinton affords Barak Obama.

Also on the downside, the Pilot#8217;s shifter has moved to the left side of the center stack. It#8217;s an improvement over the old column shifter, but the cog swapper#8217;s positioning isn#8217;t ideal for anyone who likes to drive.

The new Pilot has all the width of a full-size SUV. In terms of length and wheelbase, both dimensions have increased by about three inches; remaining about ten inches shorter than competitors. Legroom in the second row is up an inch, third row limb accommodation is up nearly two inches.

The second row adjusts a few inches fore-and-aft, but adults will want it all the way back.

Humans up to six feet tall can now fit into the Pilot#8217;s third row, with little room to spare. The wayback seats are positioned above the first two rows, providing occupants with a pleasantly unobstructed view forward. But the chairs are still too close to the floor to provide adults with enough thigh support to prevent Restless Leg Syndrome.

Honda Pilot

The Pilot#8217;s relatively short exterior length also compromises cargo volume. The Honda can carry eight people or their luggage, but not both at the same time. As with the third row, you#8217;ll find more room elsewhere.

Honda#8217;s secured an extra six horses for the Pilot#8217;s 3.5-liter V6, for a total of 250. The i-VTEC system makes the most of what#8217;s there, stumping-up 253 ft. lbs. of torque. Unfortunately, there#8217;s no noticeable difference in performance. Why would there be?

The Pilot#8217;s curb weight has increased to 4500 lbs. (with all wheel-drive). To compensate for the heft#8217;s effect on gas consumption, the powerplant now runs on three or four cylinders while cruising. The resulting 16/22 EPA numbers are competitive, but hardly qualify as a unique selling point.

The Pilot#8217;s automatic five-speed gearbox remains. (Most competitors have a sixth ratio, which enables a shorter first gear for stronger acceleration off the line.) The Pilot#8217;s steering feels a bit firmer than before. Thanks to improved suspension tuning, the Pilot no longer leans like a boat through the turns. But the not-so-cute-ute is about as much of a sporting machine as the [only slightly less expensive] Panasonic EP3005 massage chair.

Disappointingly, the Pilot#8217;s new underpinnings don#8217;t deliver markedly improved ride quality or a vast reduction in noise levels. If you#8217;re looking for a bargain-basment alternative to premium-branded products, this ain#8217;t it.

The new Pilot doesn#8217;t change the game the way the original did. There#8217;s not a single area in which it excels, in a field crowded with excellent products. Of course, the same could be said of the old Pilot, of which Honda sold quite a few. Much like the previous model, the new Pilot is a vehicle for those who will only consider a Toyota or Honda, and want something roomier than the Highlander. Honda bunted.

The Pilot#8217;s a base hit.

Honda Pilot
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