2009 Pilot, Largest Honda Yet On 4 Wheels

pilot headerFor fans of SUV in North America, rejoice! As Honda has unveiled a new iteration of its successful large SUV, the Pilot with all the advancement demanded by the customers. With bigger interior, bolder (Boldest) styling, coupled with more powerful engine and more efficient in fuel consumption, really, what more could you ask? More pictures and witty comments after the click.

The one thing that people immediately noticed about the car is how huge it is… Really, it’s so big, this car rivals Toyota Land Cruiser in size, and Land Cruiser is a huge car. For comparison sake, here is a brief round down for the data.

Toyota Land Cruiser (9th generation 200 series)

Length 4950 mm
Width 1970 mm
Height 1880 mm

Honda Pilot (2nd generation)

Length 4849 mm
Width 1994 mm
Height 1803 mm

As you can see, on paper, the Pilot is now wider by a hair compared to Toyota’s largest car. So why the size increase? It is very different with Honda philosophy of making everything more compact and practical. Even the new Stepwagon and Odyssey decreases in size (externally). Well, this is because Honda listens to their customers, yup, they do.

Home Away From Home

One of the most asked feature from the old Pilot by its users is larger interior all around with extra seating capacity. Hence, Honda have to make the car a boxy as possible because geometry wise, a perfect box offers the optimum interior space. The results are mind boggling, the 2nd row and 3rd row seats now have more ample leg room, especially the 3rd row. As it is now, 2009 Pilot officially seats 8, 2 at front, 3 in the middle, 3 at the back.

The extra interior room is not just for show or an extra room for the kids to fight in, no… Honda make available a DVD entertainment system with built in 9″ LCD screen, complete with the built in 3 headphone jack for a little bit serenity for Dad whose driving. Now when the kids are gone with mom on the mall, or so happen you bring your friends along for the ride, the 10 speaker, count that… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 speakers, you can blast that pop rock or glide away with a classic, whichever you choose, the Pilot can do it all.

A Face Only Mother Would Love? Not Really

The other thing that strikes people when looking at the new Pilot aside from its size is its front fascia. I talked about before how Honda have to utilize a box shape to satisfy the demand of 1st generation Pilot users. For conformity sake, Honda needs to attribute boxy design all over the place to make the car symmetrical… Well, there you have it here… At first I loathe the design wholeheartedly, I thought that the car was designed by somebody who just gotten himself an industrial design degree. It’s plain, it’s uninspired, it’s… Blargh!

Pilot front

But I have made mistakes over the years, as did I judge badly the design of the new Honda Inspire / rest of the world Honda Accord. Honda always designs something that is trivial and we need to take into the detail to appreciate it. At first I loathe the design of the new Accord, from the press pictures it looks like… I better not say it. But after further inspection, especially seeing it with my own eyes, the car is astounding… The details, especially the rear is inspiring to say the least. The subtle curves around everywhere is very pleasing. This new Pilot also have that kind of “special effect”. Looking at it carefully, you will find curves where it is supposed to be curved. The front of the car is not totally box shaped, it has subtle contour, this also applies to the rear of the car. I do admit the side profile needs a little more work, but all in all, the design really grows on me. For those who want to buy a medium size SUV, take a good look of the car in real life, not just based on pictures and some dude telling you not to buy it (probably works for Toyota).

pilot back

Same Old Engine, With New Life Breathe In

Powertrain wise, the new Pilot uses the same engine as its predecessor, a 3.5L VTEC with an updated Variable Cylinder Management system which deactivates cylinders depending on engine load. The updated engine receives an increase of horsepower, torque and more efficient in fuel consumption. The old 3.5L produces 244 horsepower with 243 lb-ft of torque, the new engine gets 250 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, to make matter more interesting, the car gets an estimated 17 MPG (urban) / 23 MPG (highway) a 1 MPG better from previous car. Didn’t see that coming, considering it’s a bigger car than the model the 2009 Pilot replaced.

Pilot cargo

The 2009 Pilot now comes with an integrated trailer hitch for those who likes to play outside with burly toys. Be warned though, the 4500 lbs towing capacity is done with the 4WD option, without it, the towing capacity drops to half. This is because without the 4WD option, the Pilot is a FWD car, where front traction is lost because when towing, it is the rear tires that takes the burden of the car and the towed mass, so the shifting of power from front to rear is crucial. Still, the 4WD version of the car receives an increase of 1 MPG over its predecessor, so for those light off roaders, the Pilot is still a viable car to drive.

What Others Have To Say

So the media has test driven the Pilot and they love it. Except for some negative commentary on the quality of the interior. Here’s some excerpt:


The 2009 Honda Pilot is not a truck (unless you’re the kind of person who thinks a Honda Ridgeline is really a truck), but it’ll tow a boat or a trailer of ATVs on a family adventure, and you can pick up a lot of stuff from a loading dock at the home improvement store. It’s not a car, but you can carry as many people as one of the full-size GM crossovers and still tote enough stuff to keep everyone happy on a vacation, plus there’s a new Touring model that delivers all the comfort amenities you might find in something wearing an Acura badge.

Car & Driver

The new Pilot gets a bolder front end—anything is bolder than the current wallflower—that doesn’t look as awkward in person as it does in some of the photos. But this ute is all about function. It forgoes the recent trend of sportier, on-road-only SUVs and retains a high roofline to maximize headroom and cargo space, and it has a blocky shape that enables the rear cargo hold to accept four-foot-wide sheets of plywood.

Motor Trend

Formal testing on production vehicles may yield a minor surprise or two, but our first encounter with these proto Pilots confirmed that Honda has redefined an already capable package in ways that should spike its desirability index with both core and conquest buyers. It’s still no MDX; but those who genuinely prefer comfortable, controlled cruising to high-intensity corner-carving will love the 2009 Pilot’s even more surefooted demeanor and improved ride.

What Do I say

Meh… I never liked SUV, gas guzzlers, hard to drive on the city… Especially in my country. I wish the car have a more edgy look though, the overall box shape can really make do with sharp edges, especially at the front. But I do nod to the fact that whenever I needed a family car, Honda Pilot is a very intriguing car. Roomy, choke full of gadgets, it looks very manly, and above all, it’s a Honda, nuff said.

P.S. If this car comes with Honda’s latest I-DTEC diesel engine, it will surely flies off the dealer lot.

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