What Changed for 2008:
- New Value Package (VP) model replaces entry-level LX
- VP has more standard equipment than the 2007 LX model
- New Special Edition (SE) model fits in between EX and EX-L
The Pilot is Honda's answer to the big SUV, a large vehicle using car-like unit body construction in place of its rivals' truck-like body-on-frame architecture. (Other big SUVs, including the GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and Mazda CX-9, are now starting to follow the Pilot's lead.) First introduced for the 2003 model year, the Pilot enters its sixth year in 2008 with two new trim models, the Pilot VP and the Pilot SE.
The 2008 Honda Pilot is available in VP, EX, SE and EX-L models; the entry-level LX has been discontinued. The Pilot VP includes seating for 7; power windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; front and rear air conditioning with an air-filtration system; rear privacy glass; alloy wheels; 6-disc CD changer with 7 speakers (including a subwoofer) and steering-wheel-mounted controls; body-color mirrors, door handles and rear spoiler; roof rails; and cruise control. The EX adds synchronized automatic climate control, fog lights, power driver's seat and HomeLink remote system. The new SE model builds on the EX with the addition of a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, XM satellite radio, moonroof, 115-volt power outlet and ambient console lighting, while the EX-L adds leather-trimmed seats with heat for the driver and front passenger. EX-L buyers can add either a rear-seat DVD entertainment system or a GPS-linked navigation system, but not both; there are no options on VP, EX or SE models.
The 2008 Honda Pilot can be had with either front-wheel drive (FWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). Power comes from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine featuring VTEC variable valve timing; FWD models get Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system. The engine produces 244 hp, which peaks at 5750 rpm for FWD models and 5600 rpm for 4WD models. Torque output is 240 lb.-ft. at 4500 rpm, and a 5-speed automatic transmission comes standard. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway (FWD) and 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway (4WD).
The 2008 Honda Pilot's safety resume includes front air bags, front-seat-mounted side air bags, and side curtain air bags that protect all three rows of seating, as well as electronic stability control (which Honda calls Vehicle Stability Assist) and anti-lock brakes. The Pilot performed strongly in both National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests. In the NHTSA tests, the Pilot scored a perfect 5 stars for front and side impacts and 4 stars in the rollover test. The IIHS named the Pilot a \"Top Safety Pick\" for 2008, thanks to its \"Good\" ratings (the top mark) in both front- and side-impact tests and by offering standard electronic stability control.
FWD Pilots feature Honda's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system, which deactivates three of the engine's six cylinders when power demands are light, such as cruising at moderate speeds, to save fuel. Operation of the system is completely automatic and transparent, according to Honda. However, a green \"ECO\" indicator light on the dashboard lets the driver know when the engine is running in 3-cylinder mode.