2009 Honda Pilot Test Drive: Great Family Hauler Gets Smarter, More Efficient
There are active engine mounts as well as a noise-canceling system to disguise any acoustic evidence of the Pilot's variable cylinder operation. We found the system far more transparent than the 3-6 system on the Accord we drove recently. And on our short trip near Palm Springs, power from the Pilot's new engine seemed entirely adequate for the task. A five-speed automatic transmission is still standard. Combined with various aerodynamic improvements and reductions in tire rolling resistance, the engine produces fuel consumption figures claimed to be 8 percent better....
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2009 Honda Pilot, Part One
Possibly the most unassuming car we've ever come across, and by that we mean it looks so bland we actually have no opinion on its design, it is nevertheless ridiculously practical. Here, in the footprint of a Highlander, you have eight seats, enough interior capacity to carry a stack of plywood sheets, enough cup holders to hold a week's worth of spilled coffee and skittles, and fuel economy that manages to creep above 20mpg,.....The new Pilot manages to make all other crossovers, and certainly every SUV ever look ridiculous by somehow actually delivering on the utility they've always promised but never delivered. It's safe, it tows, it carries eight, you could move house in it, and it drives well.
First Drive: 2009 Honda Pilot
The driving experience is vastly improved......Combined with the much improved structure, the interior environment of the Pilot is downright serene in everything from the base model up to the new, top-end Touring model. Another advantage of a stiff structure is that it allows the suspension to work more efficiently. The Pilot feels more compliant, soaking up the heavily patched pavement in a controlled and compliant manner. In transient maneuvers, the 4,500-pound Pilot feels lighter and more responsive than the GM Lambda crossovers......Acceleration feels adequate for the type of vehicle this is, but it certainly won't be confused with some of the more sporting crossovers like Audi Q7 TDI 4.2. On the other hand, the Pilot is skewed more toward the utility side of the equation and those looking for better performance might want to check out the Acura MDX that shares a platform with the Pilot.
2009 Honda Pilot
Active engine mounts and an eight-inch subwoofer cancel out any strange vibrations created when the engine isn't running on all cylinders. What Honda hasn't been able to cancel out, though, is torque steer - even on models equipped with optional four-wheel drive. That's surprising, because Honda boasts that its VTM-4 all-wheel-drive system sends power to the rear wheels under acceleration. It must not dispatch enough grunt rearward, though, because it's not difficult to squeal the front tires off the line or light up the inside front wheel when accelerating out of low-speed corners.
2009 Honda Pilot - First Drive Review
Behind the wheel the new car is better in just about every way. Gone from the steering is the slight dead spot on-center, and the ride has been stiffened appropriately, getting rid of the previous car’s somewhat mushy-soft behavior. Acceleration feels similar (figure on 0-to-60 mph in the mid-seven-second range), there’s still some torque steer when accelerating vigorously out of corners (even in 4WD models), and the steering isn’t nearly as quick nor the tires as grippy as in such sporty wannabes as the Mazda CX-9.
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First Drive: 2009 Honda Pilot
Despite its lack of a low range, the available Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) AWD system does function like a conventional locking rear differential. That, coupled with the Pilot's improved approach/departure angle specs, should grant access to-and egress from-even more challenging soft-roading venues. For pavement people, VTM-4's near-instantaneous torque-transferring capabilities simply impart a more confident feel in rain or snow conditions.
2009 Honda Pilot Photo Gallery
2009 Honda Pilot Spy Shots