Flash Drive: 2009 Honda Pilot
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2013.
By Staff of MSN Autos
Honda’s all-new Pilot receives a big dose of style while retaining all the smart utility and uncompromised functionality that it is known for. With a modded grille and more purposeful stance, the new Pilot looks sharp on the street, but ride and handling are definitely tuned more toward comfort than performance, and steering response is slow. The Pilot is a large, heavy vehicle that can haul seven passengers, and the interior delivers first-class ergonomics and functionality. The shifter has been moved from the steering column to the left side of the center stack, which still leaves the center console wide open for storage, and the armrest conceals an audio input jack, plus 12- and 110-volt outlets. – Mike Meredith
Honda has a knack for producing cars with too little heft and feel to their controls, but the Pilot feels just right to me. Inside there is lots of space and storage compartments, the materials are comfortable but sturdy, and the driving position offers good sight lines. The Pilot feels strong and safe, but not ponderous or overweight. The engine has the right amount of torque for this segment, and it doesn’t rattle like a diesel (some similar big-displacement SUV engines do). There’s even an “instantaneous fuel economy” display, which can help decrease fuel use by up to 10 percent just from a modified driving style. – Paul Hagger
The new Pilot looks much better in person than in pictures. The front seats are comfortable and there are a number of customizable storage areas. There are lots of buttons in the center instrument panel, but controls are quite intuitive. Unfortunately the large navigation screen is almost impossible to see when the sun is shining, and polarized sunglasses make it even worse. The second row is plenty roomy for three people, and access to the third row is made simple by the sliding second row. Both rows can be folded to provide a single flat cargo space. Power is adequate for most situations, and handling is much improved over the outgoing model. With the 17.5 mpg I averaged, even a great midsize SUV may be a hard sell in the current market. – Perry Stern
I own a Pilot, and can tell you the new one is a great improvement. The new body design is solid and looks even better in person. The V6 and transmission are smoother than before, and Honda engineers responded to consumers and made the car more spacious, yet were able to improve the fuel economy slightly. Other great features include the intuitive navigation system, DVD entertainment with wireless headphones, the power liftgate and back-up camera. My only real gripe: Honda shrank the glove compartment, allowing only enough room for insurance papers. – Joe Chulick