What Changed for 2009:
- The Pilot is completely redesigned for the 2009 model year
- New interior and exterior styling
- New topline Touring model
- Seating for 8 with more space in every seating position
- V-6 engine with improved cylinder-deactivation system
- Horsepower up from 244 to 250
- Torque up from 240 to 253 lb.-ft.
- Hill Start Assist newly standard
- Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link now offered
Hondaentered the midsize SUV market with the 2003 Pilot. With seating for 8 and a car-based platform that provided a smooth ride and decent handling, the Pilot became an immediate success, and U.S. sales topped out at more than 150,000 units in 2006. The Pilot is redesigned for 2009, with a revised cylinder-deactivation system, new safety features, and fresh styling inside and out. It continues to seat 8 with front captain's chairs and 60/40-split folding second-and third-row seats.
Built on a modified version of the Acura MDX platform, the 2009 Pilot is slightly bigger than the outgoing model. Wheelbase and length grow by almost 3 inches, width is up by an inch, and cargo volume remains about the same at 87 cubic feet with the second- and third-row seats folded down. Honda says passenger room is improved in every seating position, the second row slides further forward, and the third row has enough knee room for an above-average-sized adult male to fit comfortably. V-6 power returns, as do front-wheel drive (FWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD). Maximum towing capacity is unchanged at 4500 pounds when properly equipped.
The 2009 Honda Pilot is offered in LX, EX, EX-L and new top-of-the-line Touring models, each with FWD or AWD. The LX model comes with cloth upholstery; air conditioning; interior air filter; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; cruise control; height-adjustable driver's seat; power windows, mirrors and door locks; remote keyless entry; 7-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; auxiliary audio input jack; trip computer; variable intermittent windshield wipers; 12 cupholders; integrated class III trailer hitch; automatic headlights; rear cargo net; and P245/65R17 tires on steel wheels. The EX model adds 3-zone automatic climate control; theft-deterrent system; 6-disc CD changer; XM satellite radio; heated power exterior mirrors; steering wheel audio controls; 8-way power adjustable driver's seat; universal garage door opener; roof rails; fog lights; and alloy wheels. The EX-L gets leather upholstery; sunroof; acoustic windshield; leather-wrapped steering wheel; 4-way power adjustable front passenger seat; conversation mirror; and a rearview camera with a 2.5-inch LCD in the rearview mirror. The Touring model adds pressure indicators to its tire-pressure monitor; a power rear liftgate; memory for the exterior mirrors and driver's seat; programmable multi-information display; trailer wiring harness; front and rear park assist; second-row sunshades; 512-watt, 10-speaker premium audio system; Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link; and a DVD-based navigation system with 8-inch dashboard screen, voice recognition, and a rearview camera whose image is projected on the navigation screen. The EX-L and Touring models are also available with a rear DVD entertainment system with a 9-inch video screen, Dolby Digital Surround, remote control and wireless headphones.
The 2009 Honda Pilot continues with a 24-valve single overhead cam 3.5-liter V-6 engine. It produces 250 hp, up from 244 in 2008, at 5700 rpm and 253 lb.-ft. of torque at 4800 rpm. Honda says it has tuned the engine for better fuel economy and added the latest generation of the company's Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) cylinder-deactivation technology. The new VCM system operates in 6-cylinder mode when power is needed and 4- and 3-cylinder modes under light load conditions to improve fuel efficiency. (The 2008 Pilot's VCM system worked only in 6- and 3-cylinder modes.) The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. According to Honda estimates, the 2009 Pilot will get 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway with FWD and 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway with AWD, all of which are slightly improved over the 2008 model.
Honda says the Pilot's VTM-4 AWD system is meant for medium-duty off-road needs. The system sends power to the front wheels in normal conditions but can apportion rear-wheel torque as needed. It also includes a 4WD \"lock\" mode that locks the two rear wheels together at speeds up to 18 mph to help drivers get out of the mud or snow.
The 2008 Honda Pilot earned good marks from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), including the IIHS's \"Top Safety Pick\" award.
Honda says the 2009 Pilot will be even safer, thanks to its new Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure and greater use of high-strength steel. ACE enhances frontal collision compatibility with vehicles of different sizes and bumper heights and is designed to mitigate pedestrian injury. Standard safety features include dual-stage, dual-threshold front air bags; seat-mounted, torso-protecting front side air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags that cover all three seating rows and have rollover deployment; tire-pressure monitor; active front head restraints; anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution; traction control; and electronic stability control. The Touring model has front and rear park assist. Standard Hill Start Assist prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when the driver takes his/her foot off the brake on an incline. A rearview camera is standard on EX-L and Touring models.
The available navigation system uses satellite communications to provide Zagat ratings for restaurants and hotels. The system can also be used as an interface when the vehicle needs software updates. The 2009 Honda Pilot also has Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which uses noise-cancellation technology that emits a reverse-phase audio signal to reduce interior noise.