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Zero to 60: 2009 Honda Pilot Touring with Nav
Zero to 60: 2009 Honda Pilot Touring with Nav

by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer

•          Interior refinement
•          Powerful 250hp 3.5-liter V6
•          Drive

•          The grille: love it or hate it
•          Popular features only available on premium models

            Honda first debuted the Pilot, a midsize crossover SUV, in 2003, and based it on the same platform as its industry-leading Odyssey minivan. For 2009, the Pilot has been completely redesigned, with a focus on increasing functionality while adding personality and available luxury options. The wheelbase has been stretched 2.9 inches, adding second- and third-row legroom as well as additional cargo space. The Pilot has always had seating for eight, now it just does it more comfortably. New to the Pilot is Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which allows the engine to operate on six, four or three cylinders depending on engine load. This nets a one to two mpg improvement in fuel economy. After spending a week with the 2009 Honda Pilot 4WD Touring with Nav, I’ve assimilated, corrugated, encapsulated, conjugated, and insinuated my own observations, and here they are:

            Don’t get all up in my grille
            I first tested the Honda Pilot in 2003, when it initially came out. I always thought it had great exterior lines – sophisticated and modern – but when you got into it, it was cavernous and sterile. Highly functional, but sterile. Seat eight comfortably, but sterile. The inside didn’t match the outside. For 2009, the Honda Pilot is all grown-up; it’s modern and sophisticated both inside and out. But, um, what’s up with the grille?

            Out on the interstate, the 3.5-liter V-6 power plant provides more than enough get up and go with 250 hp, and for a crossover SUV of its size gets a respectable 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. You typically wouldn’t associate an SUV – well, an SUV priced south of $50,000 – as fun to drive. The Pilot feels a lot more limber than its boxy look; it also has one of the smoothest five-speed automatic transmissions on the market. For those city dwellers in need of an SUV, like those in the midst of the big Gay baby boom, the Pilot isn’t intimidating to find parking for in the city. The touring model comes conveniently with a rear back-up camera, which is great for parallel parking or not hitting those little tykes playing in the driveway. 

            The most significant difference esthetically is the interior of the Pilot. Where there’s nothing earth-shattering about the technical functions, the execution of the ergonomics and fit and finish is much better. For one, Honda uses richer materials and finishes, and touches like a center console take it a generation away from its minivan roots. The increase of leg and cargo room is also much more appreciated – not that the previous generation felt cramped – but a couple inches here and there, well, who doesn’t love a couple more inches if it’s available?

            Okay, for an MSRP of $39,065, what do you get?
            The 2009 Honda Pilot 4WD Touring with Nav conveniently has all the goodies you could want in a single pricing structure. Here are some of my favorites:
            Technical Features:
•          250hp 3.5-liter SOHC 24-Valve i-VTEC V6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM)
•          Active noise cancellation system
•          Five-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control
•          VTM-4 4WD system
•          Hill start assist
•          Front MacPherson strut suspension
•          Rear multi-link suspension
•          Variable-assist rack and pinion power steering
•          EPA-certified tier two bio

            Safety Features
•          Driver and front passenger dual stage airbags
•          Driver and front passenger side airbags
•          Three-row side curtain airbags
•          Vehicle stability assist
•          Anti-lock braking system
•          Electronic brake distribution
•          ACE body structure

            Interior Features
•          Leather trimmed interior
•          Honda navigation system with voice recognition and rearview camera
•          512 watt AM/FM six-disc in dash Premium Audio System with 10 speakers
•          XM Satellite radio
•          Bluetooth hands-free link
•          Driver’s eight-way power seat with power lumbar
•          Front passenger four-way power seat
•          Heated front seats
•          Automatic day/ night review mirror
•          Second row sunshade
•          Driver’s information center

            Exterior Features
•          Power rear liftgate
•          Power moonroof
•          17” alloy wheels
•          Auto on/off headlights
•          Privacy glass

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