2009 Pilot New Car Test Drive
While the name and a minute number of parts remain the same, the 2009 Honda Pilot is a new vehicle. Every piece of sheetmetal and glass, every mechanical component, and every feature has been gone through yielding a just slightly larger Pilot that put all the space to use inside. And unlike many similar designs it didn't gain too many pounds.
An eight-passenger Pilot can handle four adults and four kids easily, or four infant seats if you have the earplugs. It has useful cargo space beyond the third-row seats so you needn't fold one to fit a cooler or week's worth of groceries. And with six cupholders in the second row alone, eight door cargo pockets and the ability to carry a 4x8-foot sheet of building material flat inside, finding a place for everything isn't an issue.
Apart from perhaps flexibility and fuel economy for like vehicles the Pilot doesn't strike one as superior in any given aspect, but rather feels like a well balanced vehicle that maintains average or better performance in any number of areas; the utility moniker is apropos. Good carrying space, road manners, and comfort are now wrapped up in a much better looking box.
The majority of Pilots are all-wheel-drive models that allow another 1000 pounds in tow rating and provide better acceleration and climbing in snow; with the same tires and brakes, they don't stop or change direction any better than the front-drive version. If you don't tow near the maximum and live in temperate climes, Honda's Odyssey offers more room and similar flexibility and features for about the same tab as an equal-level Pilot.
Potential Pilot shoppers include all those Honda car owners who may have outgrown their sedan, Odyssey owners who bought a bigger boat or have a legitimate need for the added traction of all-wheel drive, and anyone looking to replace a traditional truck-based SUV with 95 percent of the ability for 95 percent of the owners 99 percent of the time while saving fuel and society's glare.
In footprint and operation the Pilot is one of the most efficient eight-seat crossovers around, and offers models suitable for hard-core outdoor adventurers who define camping as a sleeping bag to those who wouldn't consider adventuring unless there's a Four Seasons within an hour's drive. And if you ever get tired of it, 95 percent of a Pilot can be recycled.
The Honda Pilot comes in four variants with few options. Each model is offered with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (4WD). All mechanical and safety components and systems are identical across the range. Navigation only comes on top-line models, and the rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available only on the top two trims.
The LX comes with cloth upholstery, front and rear climate control, steel wheels, five-speed automatic, Hill Start Assist, flip-up hatch glass, intermittent rear wipe/wash, power windows/locks/mirrors, tow hitch, tinted rear windows, automatic headlamps, cruise control, center console, visor extensions and illuminated mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering column, four front seatback pockets, six reading lights, reconfigurable cargo area, 60/40 split-folding second and third row seats, trip computer, seven-speaker system with 6CD changer and MP3 jack. There are no options on the LX.
The EX upgrades with three-zone climate control, alloy wheels, security system, heated body-color mirrors, roof rails, fog lights, chrome exhaust tips, HomeLink, conversation mirror, eight-way power driver seat, XM radio, and exterior temperature indicator. No options.
The EX-L, the EX with leather, adds enough features to qualify as a separate model. These include leather upholstery and wrap for steering wheel and shifter, heated front seats, four-way power passenger seat, moonroof, a noise-reducing laminated windshield, and an auto-dimming inside mirror with rearview camera display. A rear-seat DVD system with 115-volt AC outlet is optional.
The Touring model tops the line and further trims out the EX-L with a power tailgate, driver memory system, chrome side trim, signals in outside mirrors, trailer pre-wire, parking sensors front and rear, voice-recognition navigation with rear camera/Bluetooth/interface jog-dial control, second-row window shades, 512-watt 10-speaker audio system and USB port, and time/speed functions added to the trip computer. Rear-seat entertainment is optional.
Safety equipment on all Pilots includes front and front side airbags, three-row side curtain airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (electronic stability control), daytime running lights, four child-seat LATCH positions, active front head rests, and eight adjustable headrests and shoulder belts.