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2010 Honda Pilot First Impressions Review

Thursday November 18th, 2010 at 11:1111 AM
Posted by: gmchan_66

By Gary Chan

Pros:

  • Quiet cabin
  • Velvety smooth engine
  • Lots of storage space for trips
  • Kick-ass A/C system

Cons:

  • Mediocre fuel economy (The ’11 Chevy Suburban has an EPA rating of 15/21 with a 5.3-liter V-8!)
  • Center stack from the Space Shuttle
  • Shift handle is too high
  • With 2nd and 3rd-row in use, rear storage is limited

In the Pilot Seat
My how the Honda Pilot has grown over the years! From its humbler, smaller beginnings to its current 8-person hauler, besides size, it’s grown in sophistication. As a driver that regularly takes long weekend trips with friends and family, functional space and features are very important to me. Loaded with tons of features, would this Pilot “be ready for almost anything” as the Honda website advertises? Would it be ready to swallow the camping and racing gear for two or three-people going to a triathlon as well as a Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

Performance and Driving
Equipped with a 3.5-liter, six-cylinder engine (250-hp, 253 lb-ft), a 5-speed automatic transmission and advanced 4WD system, the Pilot is powerful enough to accelerate smoothly from a standstill. Acceleration at highway speeds, however, is lacking with the engine seemingly tuned for lower speeds (where it is more than adequate). Braking is good, but there is a bit of dive under panic braking. I thought the steering was well-weighted and communicative. A bit of tire squeal exists during high speed sweepers, but the Pilot remains firmly planted and directed in the desired direction. Parallel parking is simple with the rear view camera and front/rear audible parking sensors.

Shhhhh!!! No need to tell that to the Pilot since it has a very quiet in the cabin. This is the first car I’ve driven that has active noise cancellation, and it appears to work well whether on city streets or the highway. Having conversations or listening to the minute details of a classical score from an XM channel is effortless in the cabin … even with the 245/65 17”-Michelin LTX’s rolling underneath. A very nice quality of this Honda SUV.

2010 Honda Pilot

Interior and Styling
With a center stack with the same number of buttons as the Space Shuttle control panel, you can do almost anything (if you read the manual) short of reaching the International Space Station. I found the many buttons and controls a bit tedious as I had to actually look down when making adjustments to ensure I was pressing or turning the correct knob/button. I love technology and features, but the growing amount of buttons is getting ridiculous.

Some things I did appreciate was the large storage area in front of the center section that included cup holders and an adjustable partition while under the arm rest, was more storage plus a 110v/100w outlet, 12v outlet as well as USB and AUX inputs. Open the glove box and you’ll find a 3-section shelf in addition to the normal storage area.

The steering wheel is well designed with buttons to control most audio, cruise and information features. The leather, memory front seats are power-adjustable and comfortable yet firm with the capability to heat your rear at the push of a button.

steering wheel controls and white instrument gauges Center stack with lots of buttons Honda Pilot interior

One of the best features I enjoyed (during our strange October heat wave a few weeks ago when it hit 92-degrees), was the HVAC system. It functioned flawlessly and pushed out cool air like a Sub-Zero freezer. At its lowest temperature setting, I even got the chills. At the highest fan speed, the noise is not loud – the fan in our 535xi is much louder!

A perfect car for families with kids, the wireless entertainment system allows the rear passengers to listen to or watch something completely different from the front passengers plus the user interface for the rear passengers is very intuitive. I was listening to XM radio up front while “How to Train Your Dragon” was playing in back.

Second and third row seats fold flat creating a large space to transport all of your large box purchases from IKEA, and there are plenty of tie down locations if needed. Comparing the interior space with the Highlander, I think fellow reviewer Twain and I could stuff the Pilot with all of our weekend tri gear rather than requiring an additional rooftop cargo box (needed with the Toyota). With both 2nd and 3rd row seats “up”, the rear storage area is limited but you do have a little under floor storage if needed accessed via a spring-loaded hatch.

87 cubic feet of cargo space Honda Pilot has a few storage options

Areas to Improve

  • Forward side visibility due to the now-common thick A-pillars. Night driving on winding roads was exciting.
  • Shifter knob location/height: Almost every time I moved my right hand from the steering wheel to make an adjustment on the center stack, my hand hit the shifter.
  • More mid-range horsepower and torque
  • Simplify/reduce the number of buttons on the center console

Hands Down It’s a Winner
I loved being in the Pilot’s seat. It’s easy to drive and provides a lot of functionality for the price ($41k). In my short drive time, I averaged 15.5mpg (below the 16/22 EPA estimates) even with the Variable Cylinder Management (VCM – able to run on 3, 4 or 6 cylinders based on the power requirements) engaging often while driving with cruise control on. Next time I have a Honda with the VCM V-6, I’ll take it on a longer highway trip to see how effective it really is. The tons of standard features (no options) on this model add up to a highly functional vehicle capable of satisfying the needs of many. If I had the money, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a Pilot for my trips to Tahoe, Home Depot and the Wildflower Triathlon as I have no doubt it could handle anything I put it through.

Honda Pilot 3.5L i-VTEC delivers 250 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque


MORE EXPERT REVIEWS
2009 Honda Pilot 2009 Honda Pilot Review – Honda’s 8-passenger SUV
Rating: 4.5 stars
By Holly R.

“The Pilot is a solid, well-performing SUV. The 2009 model has been re-designed, and while it’s squarer shaped than previous years, it looks a lot more bad-*ss. It’s comfortable, spacious, easy to see out of, and the features that came with it are very useful for drivers and passengers as well.”

PHOTO GALLERIES
2010 Honda Pilot | 2009 Honda Pilot
Honda Motor Company of AmericaHonda Motor Company of America: Cars, Sedans, CUVs, Trucks – www.autombiles.honda.com




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