The newest Honda Pilot is something of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Honda dubs it a crossover utility vehicle due to its not having a ladder frame architecture supporting the unit, but I feel this is about as close to a true SUV as one can get.
Last year, Honda introduced us to a completely made over Pilot, one that offers eight-passenger functionality without sacrificing ability and agility. The new model is larger inside and out, boasts a stronger, more fuel efficient powertrain, is more stable on the road and offers all the latest comfort and convenience amenities as well as class-leading safety.
Highlights for the 2010 Honda Pilot include:
• 8-passenger midsize crossover SUV
• Unit body platform
• 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 with 250-horsepower and 253 lb-ft. of torque
• Honda-estimated EPA city/highway fuel economy of 17/23 (2WD) and 16/22 (4WD)
• ULEV-2 Emissions Rating (CARB)
• 5-speed automatic transmission (standard)
• VTM-4 four-wheel-drive (available)
• Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure
• MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension
• Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control and ABS
• Trim lineup – LX, EX, EX-L and (new) Touring
More than 10 significant and new features exist on the latest Pilot. Notable items include:
• Newest generation of Variable Cylinder Management on all models
• Tailgate with lift-up glass hatch
• Standard integrated tow hitch
• Hill Start Assist
• Humidity Control System as part of standard air conditioning
• Four Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), increased from two
• Driver’s and front passenger’s active head restraints
• Tilt and telescopic steering column
• Aluminum hood
• Interface Dial with Scrolling and Multi-Line Display (Touring only)
• Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (Touring only)
• Power tailgate (Touring only)
The Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure enhances frontal collision compatibility with vehicles of different sizes and bumper heights. A pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle is intended to help absorb energy in the event of a collision. Additional standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist, also known as Electronic Stability Control; side-curtain airbags; front side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System; active front seat head restraints; and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution. Four Lower Anchor and Tether for Children (LATCH) positions – more than any other SUV in the segment – provide room for four child seats compared to two on the previous Pilot and most vehicles in the segment.
A redesigned crossover SUV platform allows even more refined handling and ride comfort to exist seamlessly with all-weather and medium-duty off-road capabilities. To further enhance safety, the Pilot features the Honda-exclusive ACE body structure and the most extensive use of high-strength steel (52 percent) in any Honda product to date. An aluminum hood is used for weight savings.
With its wide and solid stance, classic SUV proportions and clean design treatment, the Pilot is designed to maximize utility and communicate traditional SUV character traits including strength, durability and off-road confidence. Honda designers used the three-dimensionally beveled lines of an ultra-rugged laptop computer as inspiration to convey an active and intelligent vehicle design theme.
As a design that Honda helped make popular in the automotive industry, the crossover SUV platform that underpins the Pilot is engineered to provide the best of the car and truck worlds by integrating the refined traits and efficiency of a car design with the utility, capability and packaging advantages of an SUV design.
Three rows of seats provide a high degree of adaptability for people and large cargo loads. The first row provides a commanding view of the road from two supportive and comfortable bucket-style seats. A wide center stack and center console form the styling anchor for the interior with a design that emphasizes spaciousness and power, while allowing for convenient access to navigation (available), entertainment and climate-control systems.
The 60/40 split second row, now more spacious, slides further forward for increased ease of access to the third row. The 60/40 split third row, now supplies enough knee room for an above-average-sized adult male to fit comfortably, making the Pilot’s third row among the most practical in the industry. Each side of the second and third row independently folds down for cargo. A flat floor is created when the second and third rows are folded down.
A 3.5-liter i-VTEC V-6 engine features the latest generation of fuel-saving Variable Cylinder Management technology that operates in 6-cylinder mode for power and 4- and 3-cylinder modes for efficiency, an improvement compared to the previous Pilot’s VCM system that works exclusively in 6- and 3-cylinder modes. A fully-automatic Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive system is designed to deliver decision-free all-weather traction and medium-duty off-road capabilities – while minimizing the weight and fuel economy drawbacks of a conventional four-wheel-drive system.
The 2010 Honda Pilot feels like a large mid-size SUV in our driving experiences. It offers ample power and acceleration, a stable ride in mixed driving situations and functionality almost to excess.
We tested the fully loaded, top of the line 4WD Touring model complete with navigation and rear entertainment technologies. From the oversized center console up front to the power rear liftgate, there was nothing left for want in our experiences, except for perhaps ventilated front seats.
MSRP at this end of the Pilot lineup begins at $40,245.